Doug Logan might just be one of the most influential men in the world of sports for the past quarter of a century. But now 16 years removed from being the first commissioner of MLS, Logan is now working far away from the playing fields and the bright lights and a league he helped build from scratch. His sleeves are rolled up for what might be the greatest calling of his life.
Logan's name is intertwined in sports at the highest level. He was the first ever commissioner of MLS at a time when the sport of soccer was far from mainstream, ushering the fledgling league into respectability. Then was his nearly three years as CEO of USA Track & Field. He's touched sports at nearly every level in this country, usually with great success.
But now Logan is at an age where many would consider retiring or cutting back but he has gone from building stadiums and entire leagues to building homes for the homeless. He's doing so in the place he calls home, sun-splashed Sarasota, Florida.
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The city of Sarasota is experiencing issues with homelessness, the warm weather of Florida drawing homeless from all over and continued underemployment throughout the state exacerbating the issue. So a man who was adjunct teaching up until this past year as a sports management professor at NYU has now quit his consulting business to put a roof over the heads of the most vulnerable in our society.
"We're having a real problem here in Sarasota with homeless problems, all cities are throughout the country. The city asked me to come in here and put together a housing program for the homeless. It's something very different for my life," Logan told Metro.
"I was a rock and roll promoter, I ran USA Track & Football, I built arenas and stadiums all over the world. Now I'm trying to get some homeless people into homes.
"That's how I'm spending the twilight of my life.'
The story of his transition from sportsman to humanitarian began in 1961 when he was enrolled at Manhattan College and worked as a beer vendor at the original Yankee Stadium. From there, Logan's career, which was supposed to be in the engineering field took him as a lieutenant who served in the Vietnam War and then law school. From there, a successful career in corporate America led him to buy a franchise in the now defunct Continental Basketball Association. In 1995, he became the first commissioner in the history of MLS, a league set to kick-off in 1996, two years removed from a very successful World Cup hosted by the United States.
It was a great challenge he admits. Soccer was viewed as an oddity, a foreign sports. Kids loved playing it but somewhere along the line, they left soccer for other more American sports. If they continued to play, that was it, they never became fans. Starting a soccer league in this country 20 years ago was a huge risk.
But Logan got the 10-team league off the ground in 1996. He can point to national television deals in English and Spanish, an All-Star game in 1996 that, at the time, drew the most ever fans to a sporting event at the old Giants Stadium. He navigated some choppy waters and MLS is here today in large part due to his patience with the upstart league.
Now, 16 years later after he left MLS and after three years with USA Track & Field that ended in September, 2010, Logan is now building something other than fields. It might be the most important endeavor of his life.
His home of Sarasota needed a skillset honed with millionaire contracts and a worldwide audience to help those left in the shadows, marginalized and downcast.
"They wanted someone with a thick skin I think! They wanted someone with organizational ability – I've done start-ups before. I had some affiliations with the city, they knew that I loved here. I developed a friendship with the city manager," Logan said. "They wanted my help because I had given them some free advice over the years. Then they said 'We need you know.' So here I am."
So on June 8, he stopped the travels, stopped teaching and consulting. He's in Sarasota now full-time, working this good work.
"Someone once asked to comment on my career. I said three things and now I can add four: I had a career where I made some friends, made a little money and participated in a little bit of history," Logan said.
"Now I want to do a little bit of good."