A Wednesday Night in Foxboro

Eight MLS teams are in action tonight playing league games across the country. We are at Gillette tonight for the Revs/Chivas game, but we thought we would touch on business notes from all of the games before providing some thoughts from Foxboro. All four games bring clear weather, juicy matchups and disappointing crowds (10k on hand in DC and less than 6k in Foxboro).  For the second consecutive week, the MLS Game of the Week on ESPN2 is played before a sea of empty seats.  The Worldwide Leader made a concerted effort to schedule games that would provide good atmosphere for their national broadcasts, but after a paltry crowd last week in Dallas, winless DC United is proving to be a similar dismal draw.

It is a gorgeous night in Foxboro, MA.   After the teams warm-up and clear the field, the Revs run one of the strangest promotions in soccer history.  In conjunction with Ocean Spray, the Revs offer a young fan an opportunity to shoot a penalty shot to win a prize.  In theory, not a bad promotion, but it takes about 5 minutes to set up a screen in front of the goal towards which the fan must direct his shot.  Unfortunately, the hole for which the player must aim (in order to win) is about the diameter of two balls….a virtually impossible target.  Moreover, the prizes are not particularly appealing.

Gillette is one of the MLS stadiums where only the “TV Side” is opened to seating, with seats also available behind the goals.  Only one section of the upper level is open and the far side is tarped with ads for American Airlines, Ocean Spray and Lumbar Liquidators.  Sign boards for the usual league sponsors and a number of local sponsors frame the field.  Prior to the game the Revs offer a “Soccer Celebration” for young fans that includes bounce houses, face painting and other activities.  There is a also a sample of the Gillette Stadium turf with the Revolution logo for fans to test.

In Foxboro, the weather couldn’t be better, but the crowd is depressingly sparse with less than 6k announced attendance and seemingly less in the building.  The fans in the Fort are trying to make noise, but the 22nd minute stadium-wide McDonald’s ad over the PA system is the loudest sound around.  At the CBS Scene (a restaurant that is part of the Patriot Place complex), the Bruins game is playing a big screen visible from large parts of the stadium.  Behind the North, the Fort is in good form with newly added tarps consolidating the supporters into a tighter area than last year.

Halftime brings an on the field trivia contest hosted by the Revs Girls that affords another fan the opportunity to get on the field and win a Revs’ jersey. That is followed by a T-shirt toss by the Revs girls into the crowd….tonight, just about everyone gets one.  Not much to add after half…the night continues to be beautiful, the stadium empty and the home team continues to struggle.