MLS franchise map (not yet a nationwide league)

Discussion in 'MLS: News & Analysis' started by emmettoconnell, May 19, 2008.

  1. emmettoconnell

    emmettoconnell New Member

    Jun 18, 2007
    Olympia, WA
    Worked on this earlier this morning. What is portrays is the current and announced MLS franchises as of right now as adapted from CommonCensus' sport fan maps. Seattle and Philadelphia are on the map. Toronto is missing because CommonCensus didn't include Canada (though it should).

    At CommonCensus people say what team they root for and where they live. This shows the geographic spread of a team's appeal. I adapted this map from CC's NBA and NFL maps. To get KC, I took in the NFL map and to get Columbus, I'm just assuming NBA Cleveland as a stand-in.

    [​IMG]


    Click image for larger version.

    OK, what I was trying to find was the geographic holes on the league. I started thinking about this because of the questions brought up by MLS Rumors and Kartik on the state of t.v. and MLS.

    Kartik points out that since 1999 the national t.v. deal for MLS has atrophied from 15 network airings to 2 network games and dozens of cable games.

    MLS Rumors points to a situation in San Diego where viewers can't seem to get a local news station to cover MLS.

    What I got out of those posts is that there seems to be a disconnect between how an MLS team is treated in its home market and how the sport is treated nationally. If there isn't a team (say like in San Diego) the league itself might not even exist.

    I think that reason (as portrayed by the map above) isn't yet a national league. The league is growing (I think at the right pace), but is missing across the entire south and the upper midwest. It seems to have saturated the Northeast, but there are sizable chunks of total midwest and southwest that haven't been taken up yet.

    I'm interested in what everyone else thinks. Am I off-base here?
     
  2. KansasFan

    KansasFan New Member

    May 6, 2008
    Interesting stuff...I think that the league is doing a good job of building. As for the midwest, I live in this 'region' and am a Wizards fan. I live two hours west of KC and even here people are aware of the KC Wizards...it's just tough with limited media coverage.
     
  3. jasontoon

    jasontoon Member

    Jan 9, 2002
    Seattle, WA
    Club:
    Seattle Sounders
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I've always said that the best way to create new MLS fans is to give people local teams to root for. Media coverage, TV ratings, merchandise sales, promoting recognizable stars: it's all driven by fans rooting for their local MLS teams.
     
  4. redcard1998

    redcard1998 New Member

    Apr 7, 2007
    Phoenix is in the same boat as San Diego, or rather a larger boat. We are the 5th largest populous metro site in the US, and MLS/soccer does not exist whatsoever in local media & newspapers. That said we have some fantastic, large, adult soccer leagues here, so the interest is around. Not to mention our enormous latino population. On Jan. 15th, 2007, US-Mexico *friendly* sold-out the new Cardinals stadium a couple Januarys past - something like 65k ... on a Wed. evening. Of course if there is ever to be a team in AZ, it would hold a covered roof, as its 110 deg. here today!

    As well as MLS has done with its local bases, you are correct in that we are a long ways from developing a significant 'nationwide' fan base - but I'm hopeful. :cool:
     
  5. Mr. Bandwagon

    Mr. Bandwagon Member

    May 24, 2001
    the Barbary Coast
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Cool map. What I want to know is what happened to "America's wang"? Looks like someone needs to take Florida to see the doctor.
     
  6. bright

    bright Member

    Dec 28, 2000
    Central District
    Club:
    Seattle Sounders
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Florida enlargement is not yet a proven science.

    - Paul
     
  7. Qrom

    Qrom Member

    Oct 26, 2007
    east bay
    MLS should, or should have concentrated on regions. Teams should be concentrated as close together as possible so there could actually be some real away support. People like their rivalries, but personally I think its a bit cheesey that your rival is like 600 miles away. I don't have the money or time off to be making trips like that and neither do most people I'd assume. Closer teams=more away support= more butts in the seats. I think Einstein said that.
     
  8. Bill Schmidt

    Bill Schmidt BigSoccer Supporter

    Aug 3, 2003
    Washington, DC
    Club:
    Real Madrid
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I think you're right. I also think Garber agrees with you, but won't put a team in one of those open spots until everything is in line.
    Also, just five years ago, the holes on this map would have been much bigger.
    If you look at the holes, it doesn't look like San Diego is the first place to put a new team for the purpose of national coverage. People there have a team within a three-hour drive. Start with the places without a team in a 10-hour drive. Phoenix, Detroit, Atlanta, and any of the larger Florida markets would make major impacts. Of course, if Billings, MT or Bismarck, ND could support teams, that would be great. The fact that they and other markets in that region probably can't is part of the problem with geographic coverage.
     
  9. Earthshaker

    Earthshaker BigSoccer Supporter

    Sep 12, 2005
    The hills above town
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    We are never going to be as nationwide as the other sports leagues because it is highly unlikely we will ever have as many teams as they do. I would think MLS would at least want each team to play each other home and away, so, I would guess we would not go that far over 20 teams.

    We should be less concerned with filling geographic bare spots and instead concentrate on putting teams in good soccer markets that have committed ownership.
     
  10. Bill Schmidt

    Bill Schmidt BigSoccer Supporter

    Aug 3, 2003
    Washington, DC
    Club:
    Real Madrid
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Just for general expansion information, that will be shot down in the first few sentences of any sports marketing study of any metro area on the subject of whether it will support a men's professional soccer team. Sports marketing recognizes two groups who have a connection to a sport: participants (players) and spectators (fans). Unfortunately, soccer is the classic example used to show that these two groups do not always overlap.
    Not everyone who plays soccer is interested in watching someone else play soccer, even for free. However, that doesn't mean the participants are less likely than people with no understanding of soccer to become soccer spectators. Unfortunately, I think the general agreement in sports business is that soccer participation rates are basically completely unrelated to the number of prospective spectators. There are just too many examples of that; the national one being quite obvious.
    Repeated good attendance at multiple men's professional soccer games in the area, and ratings for soccer games, particularly MLS games, on TV seem to carry much more weight.
     
  11. whiteisthecolour

    whiteisthecolour Moderator
    Staff Member

    Apr 10, 2007
    Miyazaki, Japan
    Club:
    Vancouver Whitecaps
    Nat'l Team:
    Canada
    I just think the map is fantastic and makes a great talking point. I've never thought about where, exactly, sports teams get their "foreign" (out-of-city/state) support.

    My thoughts:

    1. On a population note, that dark blue area around the Rockies would seem to be a lot better placed about one state further south.

    2. Agreed, northeast looks great right now.

    3. Southeast: Yikes! I want Vancouver in before anyone else, but even I have to admit that seeing such a gaping hole would seem to be a mind-blowing wasted opportunity. The map really opened my eyes to just how much the MLS is missing as far as national awareness.

    4. It's almost too bad that one club in the MLS hasn't experimented with being a Regional team, playing games between 3 cities in a major area, trying to build REAL home support in all three places. Cascadia FC (OR WA BC)? The Desert SC (NV AZ NM)? Atletica Florida (Tampa, Miami)? Great Lakes SC (WI IN MI)? Or maybe even The Prairie Po' Folk SC (ND SD WY)?
     
  12. morerapidsplease

    Apr 8, 2008
    Denver
    I think the pace of the league development has been fair, though I think we could be a little further along then we are now.

    As far as stopping at 20 teams, which seems to be the magic # b/c of Europe and Sepp Blatter I say we can do it baseball style and have 2 leagues ala national and american in b-ball. then have the 2 champions play each other in a final 2 leg final (I think it's silly to not let the home fans see the game in their house). This would promote more local/ area rivalries, easier for fan travel, and bring more markets. To stop at 20 and potentially leave out the Vancouvers, Montreals, Miamis, Atlantas, SanDiegos Detroits etc. seems kind of timid to me, the lcoal rivalries would be amazing. Can you imagine the PortlandVancouver/ Sounders games? Vancouver/Toronto/ Montreal? I;m stoked to see Philly/DC/NY&NY2 someday. I wouldn't mind seeing Arizona/Rapids/RSL too. Chivas really needs to rebrand and/or move-it was an interesting idea at first but it aint working, 5k at games this year is not good with those decent players.

    just my thoughts.
     
  13. KaptPowers

    KaptPowers Member

    Dec 29, 2003
    Astoria, NY
    Club:
    New England Revolution
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    As a fan of the only club with a regional name, I don't know if being a sort of nomadic team would even work. I can see doing occasional "home" games outside your actual home stadium (as the Revs have done in the USOC playing in Ludlow, MA and New Britain, CT for example) but not having a fixed home...you couldn't make all your fans happy. Putting the team nearest to the largest population center (or in an area easily accessible to it) would seem like a better idea.

    Isn't San Jose playing in multiple stadia this year in order to be a more "regional" team?
     
  14. due time

    due time Member+

    Mar 1, 1999
    Santa Clara
    I don't think that's even close to making the list of reasons. They are playing in a total of two venues, a small one and a big one. They use the big one when the big names that draw a lot of fans come to visit: Blanco & Beckham. So three games are at Oakland this year, the rest at Buck Shaw.
     
  15. emmettoconnell

    emmettoconnell New Member

    Jun 18, 2007
    Olympia, WA
    I used photoshop to erase the other NBA/NFL markets that don't exist in MLS, so some of the boarder of the map is messed up, such as Florida.

    Thanks for the feedback in general.

    Totally separate thought:

    One thing that makes me wonder about the local soccer coverage in markets outside of MLS cities is that many of these places have local USASA teams that play in the Open Cup. I'm thinking specifically of Banat from Arizona last year, but also Roma FC that beat Chivas in 2006. Do these teams get much coverage (or any at all) when they're qualifying or playing in the cup?

    I do media relations in my job (non sports related) and its amazing what a few persistent phone calls would do. The "giant killer" story line would probably be the best line.
     
  16. KaptPowers

    KaptPowers Member

    Dec 29, 2003
    Astoria, NY
    Club:
    New England Revolution
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I could swear I saw something about them playing in more than just Buck Shaw and Oakland (for the Beckham game, I knew that one) to gain more NoCal fans. You're obviously closer to the situation than I am but I was sure that was at least part of the plan.
     
  17. StarvingGator

    StarvingGator Member

    Jun 22, 2007
    The Hospital Bar
    I'm obsessed with all sports, so I read the newspaper/SI/ESPN/CBSSportsline/SN/Rivals/Scout etc, and MLS does not exist in the South. I don't mean the lack of a team, I mean the league is as unknown as it could possibly be. I always get pissed off when I go to an MLS city, pick up the paper and see a story about the league. You don't know how lucky you have it.


    Heck, for large portions of the South, the sport of soccer doesn't exist. I love the South, but it's as backwoods as backwoods gets for soccer (this doesn't mean a metropolis like Atlanta couldn't support a team, obviously).

    Florida on the whole is different, but if you've ever been to Gainesville (where I'm currently living)...................it ain't exactly South Beach.

    So what I'm getting at is the huge hole of MLS-less in the southeast-ish isn't as crazy as it seems. Alot of that doesn't, and won't follow soccer. Some will, and it'd be great to have a team in those locations. Besides, the NFL was seen as kind of foreign and strange for many years down here -- and football is a religion here. It's a very strange and unique sporting culture. If MLS can figure out how to tap it, it's limitless in fervor...but I wouldn't be surprised if that hole in the map stays that way for some time.
     
  18. Earthshaker

    Earthshaker BigSoccer Supporter

    Sep 12, 2005
    The hills above town
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I don't have to imagine it, since I was there to experience it during the NASL days.:) For one Seattle/ Vancouver playoff game it was estimated that 8,000 Whitecaps fans made the trip to Seattle. Hopefully we will see it again someday.
     
  19. Earthshaker

    Earthshaker BigSoccer Supporter

    Sep 12, 2005
    The hills above town
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Initially, there was some talk of multiple venues, and perhaps playing a game in Sacramento, but, it was then narrowed down to Buck Shaw and the Oakland Colliseum fairly early on.
     
  20. Saltenya94

    Saltenya94 Member

    Jul 29, 2003
    Brooklyn
    Club:
    DC United
    Yeah, but .....

    the "bottom-line" truth is news stations even sport sections cover:
    A) What already has a following
    B) How much of a following will determine the breakdown (50 % Redskins - NFL, 15% Wizards - NBA, 12 % Capitals - NHL, 20 % Nationals - MLB, 2 % Golf, Hot Dog Eating Contest, - .05 % DC United - MLS.) Now if you read the Washington Post, obviously the team is given a more helpful shake. But we do get highlights but there is no build-up, and we are always talked about last.
    C) ADVERTISERS pay to get the Redskins fans and Nationals then Wizards and then Caps then Golf... If you really want more soccer coverage... I recommend everyone here to start a successful company you can make money with - quit your day job - and then pay huge ads and demand the media TV / RADIO / PAPERS that you won't give them millions, thousands unless they step up the MLS coverage.... money talks
     
  21. Elninho

    Elninho Member+

    Oct 30, 2000
    Sacramento, CA
    Club:
    Los Angeles Galaxy
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Roma FC is from Dallas, so local coverage, while it would be nice, wouldn't increase MLS awareness any.

    Anyway, there are two schools of thought on locating expansion teams, both equally valid: having a "national footprint", and playing up local/regional rivalries. I would say the best policy should be to combine the two, and aim to put a pair of teams in any given region. A third consideration would be covering reasonably large markets that lack other big-league sports.

    In this regard, Salt Lake City was an outstanding choice for an expansion team, and RSL's attendance bears this out. Reasonably large city, only the NBA already in town, and a natural rivalry with Colorado. Although Phoenix is the larger population center in the region, it suffers from both already having all four major US team sports present, and having no natural rivalries with existing or potential MLS cities.

    For the same reason, I would expect to see a second Pacific Northwest team sooner rather than later.

    The South suffers from having few large population centers: Atlanta is the only true major market between DC and Texas. That said, the region is home to some of the better-supported USL teams, as well as many of the strongest NCAA programs. I would consider the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area as a possible location, because of good attendance for college soccer, but the USL got there first... so I suppose the best course to take now is to wait and see how the Railhawks do over the next few years. Another distinct possibility is Birmingham, Alabama: no other high-level professional sports, and strong support for the US national team. The only thing that's missing (and it's a big one) is a stadium, or someone willing to build one.
     
  22. emmettoconnell

    emmettoconnell New Member

    Jun 18, 2007
    Olympia, WA
    I hope so, it would be great if it were both Vancouver and Portland.

    I see what you're talking about, I was thinking of it being like poles holding
    up a power line. Space them too far apart, the line sags, get them close together, you create natural rivalries (like what I assume will happen on the east coast). With the map the way it is in the NE, there's hardly room for a fan to get lost between teams.

    Birmingham is intriguing, the WNT always seems to play one there.
     
  23. SideshowBob

    SideshowBob Member

    Jan 12, 2007
    Northern VA
    Club:
    Philadelphia Union
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Major pet peeve: Phoenix most certainly is not the "5th largest populous metro site". Not even close. It is the fifth largest city in the US, but that ranking is basically meaningless in terms of how important a media market. In terms of the metro area size -- which encompasses the city itself plus the surrounding population and which is key for determining the "market size" in terms of media value -- Phoenix ranks much lower. For example, in the MSA list, Phoenix ranks 13th, quite good, but below other non-MLS areas like Miami, Detroit and Atlanta.

    Just sayin'...
     
  24. equus

    equus Member

    Jan 6, 2007

    True. The Southeastern Conference doesn't even have college varsity men's soccer. The only schools in the SEC that still have men's varsity teams are Kentucky and South Carolina, and they play in Conference USA (UK played in the Mid-American Conference for a decade prior to that.) Vanderbilt had a varsity men's team, but was dropped a couple of years ago due to Title IX.
     
  25. TomEaton

    TomEaton Member

    Mar 5, 2000
    Champaign, IL
    If MLS was able to get significant media coverage in places that don't have teams, it would be very unusual. For professional team sports in the U.S. I think you really only see that for football and baseball. Where I live, just over 100 miles south of Chicago, the local newspaper barely covers the NBA or NHL, even in the playoffs. The local sports call-in radio show is mostly about University of Illinois football and basketball, occasionally other local sports, and occasionally the Bears, Cubs, or Cardinals. No one ever calls about the Bulls or the Black Hawks or the St. Louis Blues (or Rams for that matter). The Fire have no chance.

    Maybe things are looking up, though; yesterday I saw a kid at the local library wearing a Fire jersey, the first time I'd ever seen anyone wearing one here besides me.
     

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