The WPS completed its first full slate of games this weekend with matches in New Jersey, California and Illinois. In our interview with WPS Director of Communications, Robert Penner, Mr. Penner stated that the League was hoping for game day attendance between 4-6,000 per game. During a weekend when MLS teams disappointed at the gate, all three WPS matches hit the mark with between 5-7k fans in attendance.
This weekend will be the first chance for ESPN2 to showcase its new game of the week strategy for MLS. After two years of Thursday night matches, the Worldwide Leader will showcase the “superclassico” between Chivas USA and the L.A. Galaxy at the Home Depot Center. These matches always provide the good atmosphere and big crowds important for “selling” MLS on T.V. (both were missing from the RSL//Columbus game last week), but the 11:00 start time does make it more challenging to capture viewers on the East Coast. The late start will do better on a weekend (in contrast to Thursdays), and may draw in some bar crowds filled with younger viewers. This will be a good test for ESPN’s new programming schedule.
Finally, the Galaxy are offering a massive discount on a range of tickets via their website. The drastic reductions ($25-$61 per ticket) are a great benefit to fans, but also suggest some real trouble at the gate for L.A. This is especially so in some of the higher priced areas of the Home Depot Center. Remarkably, the available games include a match against Chivas USA, typically a big seller. Not suprisingly, no such discounts are offered for the dates following David Beckham’s return from Europe. Many teams are struggling to sell higher priced tickets, and these discounts will help fill these seats. There is a downside, because the Galaxy risk offending season ticket holders who have already paid for their seats.