Soccer Business Bits: Attendance, TV and More

mlsMLS wrapped up its fourth round with a full slate of Saturday games.   The weekend was a mixed-bag at the gate with Seattle, Toronto and Houston drawing well and Columbus, San Jose and Salt Lake City disappointing.  Los Angeles posted a solid number, but still below traditional “super classico” norms.  All attendances for the week (and month) are here.

Seattle and Toronto will continue to be strong all season and the big number in Houston is encouraging. On the down side, San Jose’s failure to sell out at smallish Buck Shaw stadium is troubling.  This is especially so in light of Lew Wolff’s ongoing efforts to build a stadium.   In Salt Lake City, RSL is in its first full season at Rio Tinto Stadium and through two games, they are averaging less than 12,000 per game.  The weather hasn’t helped, but with the League’s most attractive venue, fans were certainly hoping for bigger numbers.

ESPN’s new game of the week format debuted this past weekend featuring the battle of Los Angeles.  ESPN elected to add Alexi Lalas to the booth and did not open the broadcast with a pregame show.  Alan Hopkins handled sideline reporting duties.  As usual, VW featured prominently as did Dick’s and newly active advertiser Crown Royal.  In game advertisements were few and far between (we continue to wonder why ESPN/MLS doesn’t make better use of these ads) and there was limited interruption from SportsCenter.  Interestingly, halftime was handled from Bristol; there was no sponsored soccer halftime show.  This coming week, ESPN2 will air its first Friday night game of the year, with New England traveling to RKF to face United.

In WPS action, Boston opened its home slate at a rain soaked Harvard Stadium before just under 5k.  In the FSC game, just over 5k were in Maryland for the Freedom’s home opener.  In New Jersey, less than 3k watched a tie between FC Gold Pride and Sky Blue FC.   Next week, FSC will televise Chicago’s second home match of the season fron Toyota Park.  As we have repeatedly discussed, the WPS is shooting for 4-6k per game.  With the exception of the Sky Blue game, the teams have continued to hit that target. wps