MLS Playoff Attendance Troubling?

Discussion in 'MLS: General' started by DCU4Life, Nov 11, 2004.

  1. DCU4Life

    DCU4Life Member

    Jul 22, 2003
    Section 130 RFK
    In my opinion, the attendance figures for the MLS playoffs show a troubling statistic. In every market except DC, the average attendance at the playoff games was lower than the regular season average attendance. I think this shows a weakness in the level of commitment that exists in the MLS fan base compared to other major sports in this country. I cannot think of any other sport where you could find a similar trend. Here are the numbers:

    TEAM: Regular Season Average Attendance --> Playoff average attendance (% Change)

    Colorado: 14,195 --> 8,028 (43% decrease)
    Columbus: 16,872 --> 15,224 (10% decrease)
    DC: 17,232 --> 18,482 (7% INCREASE)
    KC: 14,816 --> 11,077 (25% decrease)
    LA: 23,809 --> 20,026 (16% decrease)
    NY/NJ: 17,195 --> 11,161 (35% decrease)
    New England: 12,226 --> 5,679 (54% decrease) OUCH!!!
    San Jose: 13,001 --> 8,659 (33% decrease)

    MLS: 15,559 --> 12,789 (18% decrease)
  2. Rocket

    Rocket Member

    Aug 29, 1999
    Everton FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I expect we' ll gradually see a boost in playoff attendance as the league develops and the MLS Cup gains more tradition and prestige. After all, the league is only in the 9th year of its existence.

    Also, the playoff format itself might hurt attendance a bit. The first match in the first round home-and-home series is in reality no more than the 1st half of a 180-minute long game. MLS would do better by making the playoffs strictly single elimination, IMHO.
  3. Revolt

    Revolt Member+

    Jun 16, 1999
    Davis, CA
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Group sales are a big part of the MLS ticket selling strategy. Unfortunately, group sales won't work for the playoffs. I suggest patience. Playoff attendance this year was in line with previous years, and a couple of attendances over 20,000 is actually pretty good.
  4. Colonial717

    Colonial717 New Member

    Aug 5, 2004
    Arlington, VA
    Well another large issue is that the seson attendence levels are padded with season ticket holders who don't go to every game. Your a DCU fan so you know what the first metros game looked like attendance wise, i thought it was 20,000 for sure based on the games i had been too. But it was only 15,000. That was because you didn't have all those season ticket holders not there but still buying tickets. Add to this the group sales problems and you see how hard it is to sell playoffs for an emerging major sport because of the unpredicatablilty.

    Btw, the Revs game was the same night as a home Sox world series game. Maybe not good planning, well who thought the Sox would win be in the Seires, but that number is that low for a legit reason.

    P.S. not sure if i made up unpredicatability but it gets my point across :confused:
  5. Bonji

    Bonji Moderator

    Feb 4, 2003
    Denver, Colorado
    Colorado Rapids
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    In Colorado the marketing for the game seemed to be non-existant and the numbers showed that. It was also a Friday night, which I don't think does as well as Saturday. We weren't going up against the World Series or any other local sport. I really think it came down to a lack of salesmanship by the team. They need to learn who to sell to.
  6. Chowda

    Chowda Member

    Sep 13, 2004
    Rhode Island
    New England Revolution
    Anyone think the season should be pushed up so MLS Cup is right before the baseball playoffs start? Some tweaking would have to be done, but I think it could work. It would definently help postseason attendance
  7. christhestud

    christhestud Member

    Jun 4, 2004
    I think that would definitely help some. The MLS postseason gets lost in the mix with college football, pro football, baseball playoffs, and the beginning of basketball season. There's only so much a currently niche sport can do at this time of year.
  8. Revolt

    Revolt Member+

    Jun 16, 1999
    Davis, CA
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Now, that's a problem we should be really concerned about.
  9. JMMUSA8

    JMMUSA8 New Member

    Nov 3, 2001
    New England Revolution
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Dont be concerned about New England, it was coinciding with Game 1 of the Wolrd Series.
  10. Minnman

    Minnman Member+

    Feb 11, 2000
    Columbus, OH, USA
    Columbus Crew
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Doesn't playoff attendance stink each and every year?
  11. uclacarlos

    uclacarlos Member+

    Aug 10, 2003
    east coast
    FC Barcelona
    Nat'l Team:
    LA's attendance was lower b/c they had a lackluster finish to the season again. If they were playing SJ, for instance (i.e. if SJ hadn't blown a 2-0 lead!!) there would've been about 24K round 2.
  12. The Big Ticket

    The Big Ticket New Member

    Jan 30, 2004
    MN -> UIUC
    Exactly. But what can MLS possibly do to "fix" this? Nothing. It's just something that's going to take time.
  13. greatscott

    greatscott Member+

    Dec 21, 2002
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    the difference has been explained above me soi wont go into in depth. but ill say this, its easier to get people to a game when the schedule has been known for a year. in my opinion a decrease from regular season UP TO 20 % is actually pretty good. seeing that they have a bit over a week to tell people about the game

    DC is fantastic when it comes to fans in my opinion. the 7% increase showed that.
  14. dice50

    dice50 New Member

    Oct 4, 2000
    Norman, Oklahoma
    This excuse can't work b/c in all of the other major sports the playoff attendance increases, they also have a limited amount of time to promote the games.
  15. Khansingh

    Khansingh New Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    The Luton Palace
    Well, you've got to be realistic about where MLS resides in the American sports landscape. You'll often find that playoff attendence is reduced from regular season levels in minor leagues. MLS is in that range between minor and major sports with the AFL and the WNBA. I once stumbled upon an AFL message board and it sounded ironically similar to this one. Just substitute "Dallas Desperados" for "Columbus Crew" and "David Baker" for "Don Garber" and they're otherwise identical. They complain about bad media, low playoff attendence, Arena Bowl coverage getting curtailed for gymnastics trials. If it's been discussed here, something like it has been discussed there. It's spooky.
  16. AndyMead

    AndyMead Homo Sapien

    Nov 2, 1999
    Seat 12A
    Sporting Kansas City
    You're missing the big picture.

    The big sports get media buy-in. The media promotes the games for free. How many hours of news coverage did your local stations give your local MLS team during the playoffs a couple of years back?

    How much time does it give the Cowboys, Mavs, Rangers, Stars?
  17. John L

    John L Member+

    Sep 20, 2003
    Alexandria, VA
    Yes - It is bad - And in some cities down right pathetic -

    But the basic problems are regular season-long sales and promotions VERSUS one (or two) week notice for sales for playoffs - Even in Europe, the next game for cup competitions have a few weeks advance publicity -

    And cities with poor attendance suffered the most - While DC always has good attendance - Boston's pathetic attendance can only be partially due to baseball at the same time - You mean there are 10-15K NE Rev fans who went to the baseball game instead of the game against Columbus?? - I think not

    Some lessons learned:

    1) Avoid Friday night games like the plague

    2) Have a strong season-long promotion in your sales office that can continue in high gear for playoffs

    3) Offer special promos for playoff tickets like DC United did for free "BLACK-OUT" t-shirts with a group order of 4 or more tickets

    4) Get your own stadium - That way you can always play your games when YOUR FANS will support you

    DON'T -
    1) Move the schedule up - World Series conflicts occur only in cities where the few teams are playing - If you move them up there will be more conflicts in cities where pennant races and playoffs have all the publicity - If anthing, move the schedule BACK one week - Heck - The Finals are all going to be in southern SSS from now on anyways

    2) Offer tickets at $5 a seat - This means you think you're product is a joke - And poor attendance makes it even look worse

    1) Moving KC to somewhere with more support for soccer - St Louis is a natural

    2) Ditto for Colorado
  18. bunge

    bunge BigSoccer Supporter

    Oct 24, 2000
    Other sports have definite dates and locations for their games well in advance. MLS teams don't know until the end of the season since they don't have control of their stadiums. You can't market a playoff game if you don't know when and where it's going to be.

    I'm in favor of single elimination because it's easier to schedule and easier to market. Plus, the current home and away is different than any other playoff format in this country.
  19. crusio

    crusio New Member

    May 10, 2004
    Attendance will improve when MLS focuses more on building their fan base. Now, they seem to be concentrating their efforts on selling tickets. When you just sell tickets, you have to sell them every single game. When you earn a fan, you only have to sell them once.
  20. Clint Eastwood

    Clint Eastwood Member+

    Dec 23, 2003
    Somerville, MA
    FC Dallas

    Yeah, we're going to move from Colorado now that they're building their own stadium. They need to improve the product on the field there, which hopefully the removal of Hanki will do. Build a great team and people will come, a la DC. The Rapids are going to be around for a long time.

    KC worries me a little more, but I'm still behind them.
  21. Rocket

    Rocket Member

    Aug 29, 1999
    Everton FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I disagree. October/November is one of the busiest times in the U.S. sports calendar, and having the MLS Cup in November means that the MLS playoffs are competing with the NFL, college football, the NBA, the NHL, and the World Series for attention.

    My suggestion: start the MLS season in mid-March; have the playoffs begin around Labor Day; and hold the MLS Cup in late September/early October.

    For instance, next year MLS could begin the regular season on March 19th, end it on Sept 3rd, and hold MLS Cup on Sunday, October 2nd. ((if regular season games were played each weekend, each team would only need to host 3 midweek home games)).
  22. JMMUSA8

    JMMUSA8 New Member

    Nov 3, 2001
    New England Revolution
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Explain that to fans in New England, New York, and Chicago who will still have snow on the ground. You want fans to go to games, make it so they will go to games where the weather is nice, not miserable.
  23. stucknutah

    stucknutah Member+

    Feb 14, 2002
    In the Office
    Real Salt Lake
    Don't forget Colorado and Salt Lake...March tends to be a bit chilly in the mountains.
  24. theodore

    theodore Member

    Nov 7, 2003
    Bingo. Now the follow up question. Who are those most likely to become fans? Those who already are fans of the game. Who does MLS target? White upper middle youth soccer America. Year by year we seem to lose some of the impassioned fan support groups, the soccer rowdies and immigrant communities. The rest of the people really don't give a damn about what happens on the field. They are more interested in their hotdog and chit chatting with the other parents.

    The two demographic groups, soccer rowdies and immigrants won't care about pointy ball conflicts, nor stick ball. Playoffs and finals will matter to them. I remember having to sit in the upper deck of the Cotton Bowl a couple of years ago for a playoff game, (KC v Dal). The two demographic groups used to be courted and served way back in the day. It was them, and not the kiddie market that is the backbone of a franchise. The kiddies are the future, but to bank on them alone is a project that has proven to fail, (WUSA).
  25. PZ

    PZ Member

    Apr 11, 1999
    Ipswich Town FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Of course, the ticket sales people might have been able to do more if they had known when teams would be playing prior to the final week of the season. (Just an inane arguement against the leagues parity) ;)

Share This Page