BOSTON, MA - MAY 21: Fans wait for the gates to open before the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs on May 21, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. Tonight the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox are wearing replica uniforms from 1918. Before this series, the two teams haven't played at Fenway Park since the 1918 World Series. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
- New American Owners: Check
- Summer Tour of America: Check
- "Big Signing" in tow: To Be Determined
As expected, Roma have announced a three city U.S. tour this summer, with stops scheduled for Chicago, New York City, and Boston. The Boston date, July 25 at Fenway Park against Liverpool, is the only confirmed date so far. Interestingly enough, all three of these cities feature significant Italian-American enclaves and are sure to take place in their cities respective football or baseball stadiums, with all the requisite fanfare one might expect.
While a summer tour is not major news in and of itself, this represents the first prong in what will surely be a concerted effort to expand the Roma brand in emerging soccer markets, particularly the U.S. Coupled with their deal with Disney to make the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex the official winter training home of Roma, its clear that DiBenedetto & CO are hell-bent on making Roma a global brand, starting in the United States, focusing on the swarms of children that fill soccer pitches from Orlando to Oahu.
The timing of this tour is also rather fortuitous, as the Roma v Liverpool tilt is smack dab in the middle of Fenway Park's centennial summer. While the timing may or may not be profound, the profits will undoubtedly be substantial, more so if Giuseppe Rossi, a.k.a. the "big signing" is wearing the colors of the Eternal City.
Like or lump it, it appears this tour will be an annual event:
"As an ownership group we have made growing the Roma brand in the U.S. one of our top priorities and this is a big step in the right direction," said James Pallotta, chief executive of AS Roma Holdings. "I cannot think of a bigger stage for Roma to play on than Fenway Park, in my hometown, in what is hopefully just the beginning of an on-going derby between these two great teams."
In the Roma Universe, this news surely strikes one of two chords: excitement at the prospect of Roma being mentioned in the same breath as global heavy weights like Barcelona and Manchester United or fear that this is the first step towards Roma losing its very identity.
As two of Disney's most beloved characters, Princess Jasmine and Aladdin, once sang...It's a Whole New World.