Monday, April 24, 2017

Growing Attendance Problem in MLS

Early season MLS action can best be described as an exhibition. On the "Joe Sports sport's calendar," it falls right in the middle of March Madness, the start of MLB and the NBA and NHL playoffs. You could say that there just isn't time for regular season soccer games, but that's nothing but excuses. Soccer fans in the US are watching EPL games, Liga MX and La Liga and droves. "Joe Sport" is a casual fan, not a soccer fan.

MLS has a problem, in that regard. They just want to nestle into the regular sport's fan here in the United States yet try and play the world game. It's a fence that the league has always had a hard time straddling. And now that the league is launching into rapid expansion mode, there is a hyper focus on the actual health of existing teams.

Read more HERE
Fan engagement, attendance and TV ratings are key components of a successful league. MLS is failing on the latter two.

Highlighted in yellow below are the games of which there were barely 10k people show up. MLS, like other leagues in the US, uses tickets distributed number. The problem the league is having is that the distance between that number in butts in seats is ridiculously off.

Result...Home..v..Away : Venue
3-3...Philadelphia..v..Montreal : Talen Energy Stadium
2-0...Houston..v..San Jose : BBVA Compass Stadium
2-1...Portland..v..Vancouver : Providence Park
2-2...New England..v..D.C. : Gillette Stadium
2-0...New York..v..Columbus : Red Bull Arena
1-0...FC Dallas..v..Sporting KC : Toyota Stadium
1-3...Real Salt Lake..v..Atlanta : Rio Tinto Stadium
1-2...New York City FC..v..Orlando City SC : Yankee Stadium
0-3...Los Angeles..v..Seattle : StubHub Center
1-0...Minnesota..v..Colorado : TCF Bank Stadium

Here are a few more shots from the weekend. This is a problem for a league looking to expand into more markets. It's possible that these images could even be used by communities to argue against bringing a team in. Not to mention blowing holes into the $150 million expansion fee MLS is asking.

Things aren't adding up. At some point, just like announced attendance figures need to be closer to how many folks show up, MLS hype has to match their reality.

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I recently looked at how much MLS inflates attendance by market HERE.













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