An exciting weekend of games in the MLS Conference Finals. We’ll start in Colorado, where the Rapids turned out a big attendance number despite limited mainstream marketing and a lack of promotional offerings. With temperatures falling under 30 degrees, more almost 18k fans braved the weather at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
For a team that has struggled at the gate since its move to the new stadium, the big number is contrary to typical MLS attendance patterns. For much of MLS’s history, teams relied heavily on group sales and family friendly offerings struggled with the short lead times required in the playoffs. Yet over the last couple of years, this paradigm has changed. Just this year, there were big first round crowds in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Salt Lake City and San Jose (given capacity) and expected crowds in Dallas and Colorado. Only Columbus was particularly disappointing the first round. Whether this represents a change as MLS moves forward remains to be seen, but Colorado’s ability to generate such a big crowd with less than one week’s notice was an especially significant feat.
The other second round game pitted the Galaxy against Dallas. The Home Depot Center produced its ususal strong crowd. After a strong showing in the TV Ratings from the prior two Sunday night matchups, it will be interesting to see if ESPN’s Galaxy-centric broadcast strategy continues to pay off.