Monday After

cosmosPlayoffs are looming in Major League Soccer and the Supporters Shield race is wrapping up.  Lost in the excitement of the close contests is the significance of finish is the business significance of first place.  As was the case last year, the team with the best record left standing for MLS Cup is the home team.  As of this writing, that means that the December championship will be at Red Bull Arena if New York can run the playoff table.   Recall what Howard Handler told us about the change during our interview last Spring: “ In the early days, a neutral site gave us more time to plan and sell more tickets.  Having a competitively determined site is a statement to the confidence we have in the size and intensity of our fan base, truly one of the distinguishing aspects of MLS today.

On to attendance, where the week started with one non-weekend match from Carson.  Unfortunately for the attendance numbers, the dreaded “Carson Cap” was in effect limiting the crowd to less than 14k per the Galaxy’s agreement with the town/college.

On Friday night, KC managed both a victory and a crowd of approximately 19k. Dallas followed that with a 14k+ crowd on Saturday night in the same week their coach announced he was stepping down.  Colorado continued its great season end surge in attendance with more than 18k at DSG on Saturday night for the team’s 7th sellout of 2013.

On fan appreciation night, the Revs managed a fantastic 26k plus crowd at Gillette and treated the home fans to a 3-2 victory.   The big crowds continued with almost 19k in Chicago at Toyota Park.   Another hum hum 20k plus sellout in Portland as the Timbers clinched their first playoff birth.  Finally on Sunday, 22k plus at BBVA Compass were treated to a 3-0 shellacking of the home side with New York playing the role of villian.

Promotions & Trivia Answer

houston-dynamoLet’s jump right into the trivia answer before we get to some quick hitters on promotions around MLS and American soccer.

Q. Right at 119 years ago, the first professional soccer league closed its doors in the United States. It was the American League of Professional Football Clubs.  What other sports background did the owners of the teams have in common?

A. The six teams were all owned by men who also owned teams of baseball’s National League.  The soccer league, lasting only through October of 1894, was a vehicle to generate revenue from idle baseball parks.

Excerpt from The First American Soccer Trivia Book by Jamie Clary; Copyright 2007 FreeFalling Graffiti. .

Back to promotions. Let’s start in PA, where the Union and PPL Park are promotion a college soccer tournament this way.  “Collegiate soccer’s unofficial home, PPL Park, is now offering the “College Soccer Mega Ticket” – including Army-Navy Cup II, Big East Soccer Championship, and NCAA College Cup – for one low price. The ticket allows consumers to purchase an all inclusive ticket that includes an NCAA College Cup All-Session ticket, a Big East Soccer Championship All-Session ticket, and an Army-Navy Cup II ticket, all for one low price! The “College Soccer Mega Ticket” includes a total of seven high profile soccer matches for only $70 per adult ticket and $50 per youth ticket. In addition, the “College Soccer Mega Ticket” also provides free parking to all three exciting events!”

One last promotion comes from Houston, where the Dyanmo and Mambo Seafood are presenting a $25 ticket and a T-shirt package for the last match of the season against the Red Bulls.   The shirts have the images of various Houston Dynamo players.

Trivia & More

questionBefore we get to the trivia (and there is a theme to the question this week),  the great night of CONCACAF Soccer on Wednesday merits a mention.  As we mentioned yesterday, the drama played across multiple channels, in multiple languages from multiple countries.  Whatever the criticisms of the production value on beIN Sport, Phil Schoen and Ray Hudson certainly delivered the excitement.

One other note as we inch towards the weekend. NBC and NBCSN will show the Dallas game and the Sporting game this weekend, while ESPN will have LA/San Jose.  Given the playoff implications around the league over the last two weekends, it is unfortunate that none of those games have the playoff drama that could exist at this time of year.

On to the question of the week.

Right at 119 years ago, the first professional soccer league closed its doors in the United States. It was the American League of Professional Football Clubs.  What other sports background did the owners of the teams have in common?

***The trivia questions come courtesy of Jamie Clary.  Mr. Clary is the author of the First American Soccer Trivia Book, available through He has played, coached, refereed and reported the game. During national team games, he often works with USSF compiling stats and helping media. Goalies, he feels, get too much respect from officials. Mexico and France, respectively, are his most hated teams. He plays and lives in Hendersonville, Tennessee.  The excerpts are from The First American Soccer Trivia Book by Jamie Clary; Copyright 2007 FreeFalling Graffiti

Soccer Business Bits: Copa Mundial, TV & More

propaneWorld Cup Qualifying continued around the globe on Tuesday and once again American soccer fans were treated to soccer matches from around the globe, on a variety of networks, in a variety of languages.  It is a great time to be a soccer fan in the United States, with club soccer and international soccer available almost nonstop.  There was actually some buzz surrounding the Egypt/Ghana match televised by beIN Sport.

Keeping with that theme, the Sports Business Journal is reporting that US based sports networks are starting the process of bidding on the rights to the Champions League starting in the 2015/2016 season.  According to SBJ “Several suitors are expected to make bids for rights to the European soccer league, including Fox Sports Media Group, which is the current rights holder, NBC Sports Group and ESPN. Sources suggest beIN Sport will look into making a bid, as well.”  SBJ is reporting that UEFA is seeking around $100 million per season for the rights despite the mid week/mid-day start times.

Our final business note goes back to the familiar topic of MLS expansion to Miami. Pro Soccer Talk is reporting some additional details about the roll of Steve Ross in the expansion effort.  According to PST, Ross’s roll will be limited to the provision of sports marketing services and a temporary stadium situation at Sun Life Stadium in Miami.  This quote sums up the thoughts on the possibility of a stadium: “Seriously, it would be a terrible place for soccer, the next ginormous and ill-fitting Gillette Stadium or Giants Stadium waiting to happen. Hasn’t MLS covered this booby-trapped ground before? Shouldn’t we be past it? Shouldn’t we adopt an official stance of “Fool me once … and can’t get fooled again?””

Tuesday After

advocareApologies for the technical difficulties yesterday.  Before we get to the attendance numbers, the big business story of the day involved the NY Daily News story that suggested that MLS is strongly considering a move to a European calendar as early as 2014.  Eventually, the league denied the story, but debates about the wisdom of the move raged on the internet for hours.

I have previously come out against such a move.  The idea of a Winter match in the cold climbs of the Northern United States gives me pause.  Perhaps more importantly, the suggested August start date conflicts with football (college and pro) and runs alongside the MLB stretch drive and the entire NHl/NBA season.  The current schedule allows the league to breath during the Summer as the only game in town other than baseball.  Also, the Spring-Fall schedule makes for good weather in most cities. RSN’s are more starved for live content during the Summer months.

On to attendance.  There were three mid-week games, and attendance was a mixed bag.  San Jose managed its usual 10k plus while Seattle saw a crowd of just over 38k.  The mid-week start time hurt the crowd in BBVA Compass  Stadium.

The weekend started in Montreal, with a bit under 20k for the Impact’s loss to the Revs.  Also on Saturday, just over 11k were at RFK as United continues to play out the string on this disappointing year.  There were just over 14k in Dallas on Saturday night.  Not surprisingly, the Cascadia Cup drew yet another sellout in Portland.

Monday After

Sorry for the lack of a post today.  Firefox crashed as the post was going up.  Back with a full Monday After tomorrow.

Trivia Answer

When MLS began in 1996, the league included a team in Tampa. Who owned that team?

When Major League Soccer opened in 1996 with ten teams, the structure for ownership was that each team would be 51 percent held by the league and 49 percent held by an owner-operator.  Seven of the original 10 teams had owner-operators working in partnership with the league.  Three teams were entirely owned by the league and operated by the league.  They were Tampa Bay, Dallas, and San Jose.

Excerpt from The First American Soccer Trivia Book by Jamie Clary; Copyright 2007 FreeFalling Graffiti. .