Monday, August 13, 2012

Crew Crowds, Best Since '07

The Crew sales folks have been hittin' it hard this year and getting butts in seats. Their focused initiatives like extra emails, community involvement, social media initiatives, traditional advertising and plain old phone calls are paying off, but are those the main drivers to this years increased sales?

Nope, but I'll get to that in one sec. For now, let's take a look at what Crew attendance looks like by year according to Major League Soccer Fact and Record Book for perspective.

Year: Avg Attendance : Winning %

1996 : 18,950 : 34 %
1999 : 17,696 : 41
2001 : 17,511 : 50
2002 : 17,429 : 39
2004 : 16,872 : 40
2003 : 16,250 : 33
2000 : 15,451 : 34
2007 : 15,230 : 30
1997 : 15,043 : 38

2012 : 14,858 : 40

2008 : 14,662 : 57
2010 : 14,642 : 47
2009 : 14,175 : 43
2006 : 13,294 : 25
2005 : 12,916 : 34
1998 : 12,274 : 47
2011 : 12,185 : 38

Big jump over last year (2011 was the worst attended year in Crew history). Impressive increase? What gives? Well, lots of help from Don Garber, MLS Commish. A couple visits and a World Cup qualifier date announced. The Crew also made a baseball promotions hire in Clark Beacom halfway through last year. Just to name a few things.

But could it be more than that? What's the biggest driver to selling tickets? Winning? They say winning solves everything, right?

Well, winning helps but look at the list above, now back down here... lots of pretty bad teams above some really good ones. But, in fact (on average) less folks come out to winning years. 38% (low) winning percentage for years with ticket sales better then 2012, 42% for those less (even without 2008's 57%).

There are a lot of metrics one could pull for this sort of thing. I know that MLB and NFL have folks dedicated to figuring out and forecasting ticket sales in just about every major US city. Hell, they probably know your middle name and what your vice is. MLS though? Not so much. Maybe I could tie the success of Buckeye football teams to Crew attendance. How about unemployment rates? Weather?

It could be anything really, but what it comes down to is how likable the club is. Look at the Brian McBride years. Only one falls out (1998). This year's club has a group of players that are likable. And a bunch of them from the region.

Having popular players may not always satisfy the dedicated fan, supporter, reporter or blogger but it will put butts in seats (or on benches, as it were).

The picture above is from a Columbus Monthly piece by Taylor Swope. Photo credit goes to Tessa Berg. Excellent stuff.

Please note where current Crew coach, Robert Warzycha's teams sit. Eric Wynalda just moved to Atlanta to further his career in coaching (over broadcasting). He wants in. I say, let him in.

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