Hans-Joachim Watzke, the chief executive of German soccer giants Borussia Dortmund, is confident the club can more than double its sponsorship revenue in the US after opening a first office in the Americas this week.

The Bundesliga side’s office will be based in New York City and headed up by Marc Lingenhoff, the club’s new managing director in the Americas.

Lingenhoff joins Dortmund from adhesive manufacturing company Avery Dennison where he spent almost two years, based in Portland, Oregon.

Before that, he spent nearly 16 years at sportswear giant adidas, both in Germany and the US.

Dortmund are taking significant steps to grow their global footprint and are strategically targeting the US market after establishing a presence in Asia, with offices already in Singapore and Shanghai.

Rivals Bayern Munich have had an office in New York since 2014, while the Bundesliga itself developed a presence in the city in 2018.

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Dortmund embarked on a pre-season tour Stateside last year, playing matches in San Diego, Las Vegas, and Chicago.

Watzke is keen for Dortmund to take advantage of the growing popularity of soccer in the country.

In an online roundtable with international media this week, he said: “There's a big momentum for soccer in the US because they have a lot of tournaments in the coming years. In 2025, there’s the Club World Cup and we [Dortmund] have a 90% chance to be there.

“Then there’s the 2026 World Cup in the Americas and maybe the 2027 Women’s World Cup too. The most important thing for German football and the Bundesliga is to be present in the US in the coming years.”

Watzke revealed that Dortmund generates around €4 million ($4.3 million) from commercial revenues in the US but is targeting a significant uplift.

He stressed: “We must grow our commercial revenues in the coming years to €10 million or more and it's possible because we’ve done it in other regions.”

The Bundesliga outfit has had several American players in its ranks in recent years, in the shape of Christian Pulisic and Giovanni Reyna.

Pulisic, who now plays for AC Milan in Italy, spent three years at the club between 2016 and 2019 before being sold to English Premier League side Chelsea. Although Reyna is still on Dortmund’s books, he was recently loaned out to Nottingham Forest.

Watzke does not believe it is bad timing to enter the US market, however.

He said: “When Christian Pulisic was playing for Dortmund, the momentum wasn’t as big as it is now. We must make a difference between our transfer policy and our strategic policy. I think now is the right time.”

The Dortmund chief, who recently announced he will be stepping down from the role in 2025, has ambitions to create a larger following for the club in the Americas through broader social media activity and the creation of up to 100 fan clubs, up from 33 presently.

Watzke is urging more Bundesliga clubs to join Dortmund in touring the US to enhance the league’s commercial appeal but this could now prove difficult after the German Football League (DFL) recently scrapped plans to bring in an outside investor after fan protests.

Private equity firms CVC and Blackstone, which pulled out of the process earlier this month, were vying to acquire a share of up to 8% in the broadcast rights of the Bundesliga and second-tier 2.Bundesliga over 20 years, for around €1 billion.

The Dortmund CEO revealed that plans were in place to use some of the funds to create a pre-season mini-tournament between top-flight clubs in the States as part of international growth efforts for the Bundesliga.

He said: “The plan was to make a tournament for Bundesliga teams nearly every year but for that we needed to get the money from the investors to make this happen.

“Now we have no investor, but we will try to look at other ways. For us, the Bundesliga must visit the Americas more and not only Bayern and Dortmund. We must try to finance it.

“I hope we’ll be able to create a tournament of four Bundesliga clubs in 2025, 2026, or 2027.”

Watzke stated that the failed investment deal would ultimately impact teams lower down the Bundesliga and in the second division – and questioned the ambition of those teams.

He added: “Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund will not have any problems growing internationally, it's a bigger problem for the middle clubs in the Bundesliga. But not every club has recognized it.

“That's a problem for Germany now to solve because it's clear that clubs in the second division do not have this ambition. The investment would have been perfect to let the entire Bundesliga grow. Bayern and Dortmund will take their own path which is necessary.”

The decision to involve private equity firms in the running of the league proved hugely unpopular with a large swathe of fans fiercely defensive of the league’s independence from large corporate interests.

Bar a few unpopular exceptions, German clubs adhere to a strict fan ownership model known as the ‘50+1 rule’, and German fans are among the most organized in Europe when protesting actions they deem as detrimental to the integrity of the league.

This manifested itself in recent fixtures across the divisions when fans of several clubs protested the DFL’s investment plans.

Most notably, the top-of-the-table clash between Bayern and Bayer Leverkusen on February 10 was delayed when fans threw items on the pitch in protest at the prospect of CVC or Blackstone investing.

This is despite the DFL sharing several guidelines – which it called “red lines” – for an investment deal in which it made it clear that it would not sell a share in its organization and that the 50+1 rule would not be impacted.

Watzke commented: “There are problems with the term investors in Germany unlike in other countries. Germans are very traditional, perhaps a little bit old-fashioned, and sometimes investor in Germany is not the best word.

“In our discussions with potential investors, we had clear red points that nothing would impact the interest of fans, but the problem was the fans did not believe us. It was a bad decision for the league.”

Read: In the Boardroom with Borussia Dortmund