The Monday After

Perhaps the biggest business news from the soccer weekend was the announcement  that storied Scottish club Glasgow Rangers is withdrawing from its 2010 American tour.  The tour was intended to include matches against Celtic in Boston and DC United at RFK.  The BBC article references the recent Boston Globe article that criticized Rangers’ fans and ultimately forced the Globe to withdraw the article and issue an apology.

Attendance across the league was varied with more than 10k in Dallas and the usual big numbers in Toronto in Seattle.  We’ve already discussed the sub 6k number on Wednesday in New England, so we thought we would focus on the solid numbers in Salt Lake City, where the defending champs are on pace to crush the attendance from 2009.  RSL is averaging 15,600 this year, up 25% from the first three games of 2009.  We’ve discussed RSL’s 2010 marketing efforts with team Marketing Director Davy Ratchford and it appears those efforts are paying off.  RSL is an exciting franchise to watch, as it garners significant press attention in its “smallish” market and puts an outstanding product on the field.  We will continue to monitor RSL’s attendance as the season moves into the summer.

The big attendance story for the weekend was the amount of empty seats in Atlanta for the Beat’s home opener against Sky Blue in WPS action.  While the crowd looked solid, you always hope to sell-out a stadium in its inagural match.  That said, kudos to WPS for streaming the game live and for free on the league website.

One final note.  The Seattle Sounders’  response to their big loss over the weekend to Los Angeles wasn an MLS first.  The team announced that season ticket holders will be refunded their money (i.e. credited on their account for next year).  This is a great P.R. move even if it is a bit strange.  Teams have bad games and franchises typically don’t offer refunds, but in this case the team will buy some good will with its fans while making headlines in media outlets across the country.

Soccer Business Bits: RSL Revenue, Attendance Review and More

rslWe neglected to comment on a story from last weekend about RSL’s Rio Tinto attendance and its impact on revnue.  According to this story from the SL Trib, attendance in Salt Lake City is down this year, but revenue is way up.  Despite the lowest attendance in Team history, revenues are up more than 25%, a clear indicator of the importance of controlling your own stadium.  While the weather has been miserable in RSL this year, the Team is still bringing in the money thanks to controlled revenue streams and the absence of rent payments.

Just as interesting, was the discussion of the dreaded free ticket.  According to the article, RSL is giving away about 1k seats this year as compared to 3-5k in past seasons.  The great debate about the value of handing out free seats.  Does it create interest?  Does it devalue the seats so that people expect free seats and won’t pay for the privilege of coming to the stadium?  The Team seems to believe it is in a good place, but only summer attendance will tell.  The last two games (including the tie on Saturday) were sell-outs, so for now things seem to be moving in the right direction (special thanks to a certain American Idol runner-up)

For the rest of the League, attendance was something of a mixed bag.  Toronto brought the usual sell-out.  For all of the numbers, check here.  It was a strange slate of games for MLS this week, with a Thursday, Friday and two Sunday games.  True to form, these games were not well attended with only Chicago breaking the 13k barrier.  Most distressing was Dallas, were less than 6k announced were in attendance at Pizza Hut Park.  We have addressed the Dallas problems repeatedly, so we won’t do it again today.  Suffice to say, things are getting bad fast.