Press Release, August 11, 2010
MEDIA VETERAN JOHN GENZALE ACQUIRES EUROPE’S FIRST FULLY COMMERCIAL SPORTS FRANCHISE
Genzale, founding editor of The Sports Business Journal and co-director of Columbia University’s Sports Management Program, To Run Italian baseball’s Milano United franchise
John Genzale, co-director of Columbia University’s sports management program and founding editor of SportsBusiness Journal, today announced that he has acquired majority interest in Milano United, an Italian professional baseball franchise created by four Milan-area teams, including Italy’s most historic professional club, Milan 1946. Milano United is established as Europe’s first fully commercial sports franchise and will begin competition in the Italian Baseball League in the spring of 2011. Genzale is an American who has Italian citizenship and lives a good part of the year in Umbria. Milan will become Italy’s largest baseball market.
“This will be both a great deal of fun and a great challenge, and maybe we have an opportunity to create a little history,” said Genzale. “With baseball’s expulsion from the Olympics, national funding for the development of the game has been drastically cut in Italy and elsewhere around the world and in some countries the growth of the game is jeopardized. We have to find a new way to support the game we love, and even though this is not a new idea elsewhere, it’s new here in Italy.”
“John and I have spent many hours discussing the path forward for baseball in Europe and I welcome his acquisition of a franchise. I look forward to closely following the path of Milano United,” said Clive Russell, Major League Baseball’s managing director of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “We believe that with the right support from the political and business community that the club can become a central part of the city, building a strong fan base with a family focused entertainment option.”
Milano United was the vision of four Milan-area clubs: Milan 1946, Italy’s oldest professional team with the country’s most championships, and three successful clubs from communities in the market footprint: Novara, Rho and Senago. The four club-run organizations will continue to compete independently and serve as United’s minor-league affiliates. Novara becomes the No. 2 team in the five-team organization.
Marco Giulianelli, the president of Milan 1946 who engineered the creation of Milano United with Elia Pagnoni and Senago president Mario Colombo, said, “Genzale put together a plan for the development of baseball in Italy’s most commercial market. The four clubs believe in the vision of commercial baseball. This is an historic occasion for baseball in Milan and baseball in Italy.”