Expansion Update: Philly 2010

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Yesterday we took a look at  the expansion situation in Vancouver.  Today we thought we would take a look at how things are progressing in the City of Brother Love.  Click here for our previous post on the Union. The team website is up and running and established ticket prices and season ticket benefits.  The Union also have a name, a coach and sharp crest.  According to reports, the Team has sold just under 10k season tickets and will cap tickets at around 15k seats in its inaugural season in its 18,500 seat home in Chester.

The Union has a strong supporters group in the Sons of Ben, who have been omnipresent over the last couple of years at an array of soccer events including the announcement of the Team, MLS Cup 2007 and even at a US Open Cup game in Connecticut between the Revs and Harrisburg, PA (about 2 hours from Philly).  Its location between DC and New York should make for some good rivalry games that will bring supporters from out of town.

Yet there are doubts.  Last weekend, the US National Team drew just over 31k at “the Linc” for a Gold Cup Quarterfinal.  This was the first major soccer event in 4 decades in Philly and just months before the Union first kick.  While some are lauding the attendance, there is a good argument that the number was disappointing.  If soccer demand was so pent up in Philly, why weren’t more in attendance?  Efforts to sell the game to Eagles season ticket holders were generally unsuccessful.

At the same time, progress on the Chester stadium is progressing slowly, and there was a recent statement from team officials that the Team might need to start its 2010 season on the road in order to ensure completion. Will people be willing to travel to Chester to see the games?  There are also questions about how receptive Philly will be to a new soccer team.  Philly is a crowded sports city and the best team in town happens to play in the summer. There is some major mainstream media opposition to soccer in the City of Brotherly Love.

Ultimately, we think Philly will succeed, especially in year one.  However, we think it will be difficult for the Union to keep demand for season tickets in excess of 10k for long. A special confluence of factors have helped Seattle and Toronto succeed, none of which are present in Philly.  We hope for the best, and do believe that Philly will be a relatively strong franchise over time.  What do you think?  Vote in our poll.

Expansion Update: Vancouver 2011

bc-placeWith all the tumolt surrounding Portland’s 2011 expansion effort, its cousin in MLS expansion, Vancouver, has quietly slid under the radar.  With opening kick for Vancouver just 86 weeks away, thinks are quietly moving towards a successful opening.   Vancouver is well set up for success.  The ownership group seems solid.  Billionaire Greg  Kerfoot has long been a friend of soccer and Steve Nash adds glamor and splash to the ownership.  The Whitecaps have done well at the gate and the market is hungry for higher level soccer.   BC Place is well situated and funding is in place for a substantial renovation (well over $200 million U.S.) that will add a retractable roof.  Soccer capacity will be limited to 20k.

The team has set-up a slick website, that is unfortunately updated infrequently.  The site contains links to BC Place renovations, and a brief discussion of the hoped for waterfront stadium.   There were reports soon after the announcement of the franchise that more than 5k season ticket deposits had been received.

In the three months since the franchise was awarded, it has been very quiet in Vancouver.  However, with almost two years until Vancouver first kicks off in MLS, that is probably a good thing.  Portland’s bid has been in the news for all the wrong reasons, while stadium renovations in Vancouver are continuing without dispute.  Promoting a team that won’t play a game for two years is a delicate balance.  The Sounders did an outstanding job of building momentum up to their 2009 debut and avoided peaking too early.  Vancouver can quitely promote their MLS squad through the current Whitecaps, while quietly putting together the support system necessary to maintain and succeed in MLS.  We will continue to monitor developments in Vancouver.

Soccer Business Bits: Expansion in Portland, Friendly Fun and More

rslAnother weekend of soccer is in the books and it was another full slate for the Beautiful Game in the States.  However, before we get to the weekend, a couple of notes.  First, Michael Lewis of the Salt Lake Tribune weighs in with a detailed piece looking at the business side of MLS.  Lewis notes the importance of the internet in helping fans follow their teams when frustrated with the lack of soccer coverage in the mainstream media.  He includes some interesting anecdotes about the “old days” of MLS, when Brian Dunseth found out when his team was folding.  Lewis includes some interviews with Don Garber and others and includes some interesting financials.  The article is a good read and provides a nice summary of the League’s business growth.

In Portland, the debate over the Timbers’ effort to renovate PGE Park continues.  Last week, Justin Curzi published a piece entitled PGE Park: The Numbers Don’t Add Up.  Therein, he argues that PGE’s current capacity is sufficent for the Timbers and that a renovation is unnecessary.  He doesn’t heavily rely on data, instead making a mostly anecdotal argument, but his comments drew a pretty strong reaction.  The comments to the article are definitely worth a read and at least one was published by the paper the following day.  The fight in Portland continues, while its cousin in expansion (Vancouver) has been relatively quiet. Despite the 2011 expansion date, Portland is an unsettled situation and we will continue to follow the story.

In Philly, the US Men snuck by Panama in front of 31k.  The write-up from Philly is here. It is hard to read much into the crowd, although you would like to think that a soccer hungry city, just months away from getting its own team would have generated a better turnout for the double header.  In Seattle, 65k came out to watch the Sounders play a friendly against Chelsea.  The crowd sounded great, and by all reports, were heavily favoring the Sounders.  A big crowd also showed in in Palo Alto for the Inter/America game in the opener of the World Football Challenge (on ESPN2).  Finally, a sell-out was announced for the Galaxy’s home game against AC Milan.  FSC will broadcast the match on Monday night. milan

The Return of Beckham: The Business of the FSC Broadcast

becks2The big story in American soccer is the return of David Beckham to MLS and the Galaxy lineup.  As we have on a number of prior occassions, we thought we would blog about the business of the TV coverage of an important American soccer game.  As is typical, FSC started with a 30 minute pre-game.  The pre-game was sponsored by Geico, and included a Beckham interview, a Grant Wahl interview and the usual FSC personalities breaking down the game.

Advertisers for the broadcast included a slew of national companies, including Home Depot, American Airlines, Sketchers, Adidas, Quiznos, Panasonic, Dick’s and more. During the game, there were on screen logos for Home Depot, Adidas, Panasonic, Glidden, Dick’s, USSF and Makita Tools.   Stadium advertising included VW, Pepsi, Makita, X-Box, Napa, Gatorade and more.

The halftime show was sponsored by Dick’s, but the halftime commercials were of a lesser variety, including adds for Gracie Combat, American Airlines, USSF and more. During the second run, there were commercials from Dick’s, Home Depot, Glidden and Panasonic and FSC standard, Pro Activ.

The crowd was lively and FSC did a fairly good job of conveying the atmosphere through its broadcast.  FSC did a fairly reasonable job of advertising the upcoming Gold Cup matches both in game and during the pre/half time. Max Bretos was also sure to promote the CONCACAF and UEFA Champions League competitions on FSC.  They also did some promotion of the AC Milan/Galaxy match.   Beckham fawing was largely kept in check.

US/Mexico 2

tv soccerYesterday we posted the following:  There are a couple of interesting TV notes surrounding US soccer this week.  The most significant is the announcement that the English rights to the USA/Mexico World Cup qualifier belong to……Telemundo.  According to Mr. Goff, Telemundo will show the game in Spanish on its main channel and in English on “mun2″ a station available in only 30 million households.  Telemundo is owned by NBC.  According to Goff, ESPN attmpted to purchase the game from Telemundo, but the rights were not for sale.  Given the strange start time (4:00 p.m. ET) for the midweek game, the match will likely not be a ratings dynamo.  Yet, the lack of availability in English will dramatically impact the ability of the work crowd to catch the game at a bar and of the college/school crowd to watch the game at home.  This is the biggest World Cup qualifier in years, and Telemundo’s power play will likely deny millions of American sports fans the opportunity to watch the game.  In the last 24 hours, the issue has generated a substantial amount of publicity.

Here is another post from Match Fit USA on the issue.

There is an online petition circulating in order to convince Telemundo and its parent NBC to move the game to a more traditional english langugage network.  Go here to participate.  The American run in the Confederations Cup generated a substantial amount of interest in American soccer and there is no bigger US soccer event than then a World Cup Qualifier against Mexico.  Given that confluence of factors, it is a shame that the game will not be on traditional US TV.  While the benefit of online petitions is dubious, we recommend that you participate.

Soccer Business Bits: Soccer on TV

us-soccerThere are a couple of interesting TV notes surrounding US soccer this week.  The most significant is the announcement that the English rights to the USA/Mexico World Cup qualifier belong to……Telemundo.  According to Mr. Goff, Telemundo will show the game in Spanish on its main channel and in English on “mun2” a station available in only 30 million households.  Telemundo is owned by NBC.  According to Goff, ESPN attmpted to purchase the game from Telemundo, but the rights were not for sale.  Given the strange start time (4:00 p.m. ET) for the midweek game, the match will likely not be a ratings dynamo.  Yet, the lack of availability in English will dramatically impact the ability of the work crowd to catch the game at a bar and of the college/school crowd to watch the game at home.  This is the biggest World Cup qualifier in years, and Telemundo’s power play will likely deny millions of American sports fans the opportunity to watch the game.

In other TV news, FSC landed the big match (for viewership purposes) of the MLS season to date.  Beckham’s Thursday night match in NY and return to MLS should be a ratings draw in prime time for the soccer network.  FSC has done a good job of promoting the game during the Gold Cup broadcasts.  At the same time, ESPN2 definitely drew the short straw for the week (yet a better game), with a 1:00 ET Saturday Toronto/Houston match.  The Toronto game is probably the better match-up, but the Galaxy contest is the sexier game.  Saturday times were not historically successful for ESPN, and a 10:00 a.m. Pacific start time (even in Toronto) will probably continue that trend.

Finally, the semi-finals of SuperLiga are upon us, with a two match doubleheader at Gillette on Wednesday night.  The game promises to be lightly attended (although the Revs are including this in their season ticket package).   All SuperLiga games are televised on Telefutura, yet the semi-finals have also been picked up by English language TV in New England on Comcast SportsNet.  The game will be shown in Mass, Conn. and Rhode Island using the Revs usually play-by-play man Brad Feldman.  superliga

Soccer Business Bits: Deals, Deals and More Deals

crew-jerseyAs we do every few weeks, it is time again to take a look around MLS for ticket offers and bargains.  The Columbus Crew are offering the “July Mini Ball Pack“.   Starting at $19 per ticket, the package includes a mini-ball per ticket.  The package requires the purchase of 4 tickets and 4 balls.

Not surprisingly, the Red Bulls are promoting David Beckham’s trip to Giants Stadium this week.  The nationally televised game on FSC is being paired with the Gold Cup Final as part of a “Combo Pack“.   Sideline tickets are being combined for $80 with lesser seats for $55.   For the Beckham game alone, the Red Bulls are also offering the same tickets for $220 (for 4) and $180 (for 4).  These packages also include a $20 food and beverage credit.

Speaking of Mr. Beckham, the Galaxy are also pushing a “Beckham’s Back” effort for the AC Milan/Galaxy game next week.  After promoting the game through a number of different combo deals, the Galaxy are now selling the tickets on a stand alone basis. Standing room seats are selling for $50.

The Chicago Fire, are pimping an array of packages for the rest of the season.  These include a “4-4-4″ that includes four tickets, four drinks and four hot dogs for $79.  Other Fire offers include 3 game packs, 5 game packs and a 20 game flex pack.  Finally (and somewhat surprisingly), RSL is still offering discounts for the upcoming All Star Game.  These include $35 vouchers obtainable through local KFC locations.   The link for stand alone All Star tickets on the RSL website is currently down.rsl