Liverpool, AS Roma, and Big Business Collide
By Jedidiah Curtis
Throughout its prolonged history, Fenway Park has been host to a collective of dynamic events. It has been the home to 11 World Series Championships, professional football games, concerts, and ice hockey classics. Nestled into Boston’s dense Fenway/Kenmore neighborhood, Fenway Park has played an integral part in Boston’s entertainment history. Now the Park will host a soccer match with implications bigger than its “friendly” title.
On July 23rd, the English team out of Liverpool will try their luck against the AS Roma squad from Italy on the iconic Fenway pitch; the game will serve as the kick off for both teams’ pre-season tours. However, what is more historic than soccer at Fenway is the two big-name Boston business tycoons who will sit side by side as their teams clash for the second time in two years.
James Pallotta and John Henry are best known as American businessmen and investors in Boston. John Henry has been the owner of the Boston Red Sox since 2002, playing an important role in breaking the “curse of the Bambino” in 2004. Henry took over as the president of Liverpool in 2010, where the club has seen large improvements under his watchful eye. James Pallotta, who is an investor in the Boston Celtics, took control as the president of AS Roma in 2012.
Nowhere in the United States can you find two big name investors, in the same city, who own professional European football teams like we have here in Boston. What is even more exciting is that they are playing each other on one of the most iconic ballparks in America. We here at Scene Magazine were very curious about this and decided to reach out to James Pallotta to see how he felt about this historic coincidence taking place right in our backyard.
Upon meeting Mr. Pallotta it was easy to see why the AS Roma community is proud to have him as their “presidente.” Mr. Pallotta and myself began by speaking for a few minutes about Roma’s plans to create a state of the art football stadium in the city, which Pallotta stated, “Will be unlike anything in Europe. It will have the ability to host music festivals, events of all kinds, and most importantly, football matches.”
We also touched on his inspiration behind the purchase of AS Roma, as Pallotta felt Roma in 2012 was an “Undervalued brand, with big potential.” Pallotta went on to say how AS Roma has always been a premier club in the world, however he saw the potential to expand on the undervalued market.
As our conversation unfolded, I was curious as to why both Liverpool and AS Roma were promoting the clubs here in the United States. The U.S. has historically been on the back burner when it comes to soccer. We have only hosted one FIFA World Cup, and our professional league has only functioned since 1996. Pallotta describes the U.S. market as “a favorable demographic” for European soccer, as interest in the sport has expanded in the past 10 years. Mr. Pallotta described a scenario where Americans can be a fan of their hometown Major League Soccer (MLS) team as well as a fan of a European club team without experiencing the type of loyalty conflict one would find rooting for multiple American teams. Honestly, how would someone react if you were a Red Sox and a Yankees fan? It would be baseball blasphemy. However, a soccer fan would not experience this type of issue rooting for the New England Revolution, AS Roma, and Liverpool.
Pallotta explained further that Liverpool and AS Roma love playing each other, as the match-up against John Henry’s club is a type of “friendly rivalry that can’t be found anywhere but here in Boston. It’s just a fun thing that everyone enjoys.” Pallotta went on the say how the Roma players love coming to the United States, but really love Boston because of it’s European zeal. Again, this type of match is a great time for everyone, even the owners have the type of “friendly rivalry” Pallotta mentioned of the two clubs. With the excitement of the World Cup in full swing, crazy soccer loving Americans will line the rows of Fenway to cheer on these English and Italian titans.