Soccer Business Bits: Playoffs Underway, Game Flip & More

The Major League Soccer playoffs are underway and over the next four days the various NBC networks will televise four playoff games from the play-in and first rounds of the road to MLS Cup.  The NBC Sports Network will televise three  matches over the next three days with a Sunday afternoon match on the NBC mothership.  The wall to wall coverage follows the televising of the opening match on ESPN2.  Unfortunately, the first game (from Toyota Park), was played before a sparse crowd in Chicago.   The league has long struggled to fill playoff crowds in some markets, a problem that had seemingly disappeared in places in like Salt Lake City and Kansas City.  Unfortunately, the crowd in Chicago was proof that group sales and events still drive attendance in many markets, regardless of the significance of the game.

In other business news, the League announced that the DC United/Red Bulls home and home series will flip venues because of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.  With New Jersey in shambles and the transportation to Red Bull Arena in doubt, the league made the decision to swap the games. The NBA has already postponed the Thursday night game in Brooklyn and the decision to move forward with the New York Marathon has ignited a firestorm of criticism.  The present conditions in New Jersey and New York are terrible on a multitude of levels.  MLS made the right call in switching the game.

Finally, I had the pleasure of being back on World Football Daily on Thursday.  I should have the link to the interview up soon.  However, one issue that came up was the business implications of the new format where the highest seeded team hosts the final.  I’m curious to solicit some thoughts from you about the change.  Agree or disagree?  Good for business or bad?