Soccer Business Bits: Tickets in Philly, Trouble in Honduras And MLS Promotinos

phillyWe’ve criticized the decision to open their season at the Linc, but Philly deserves credit for its season ticket sales.  Soccer America is reporting that the expansion Union have sold more than 10k season tickets with more than 6 months before their home opener.  This is a great number and would slide Philly into third place among MLS teams in season ticket sales.  With an 18k capacity stadium to fill, and half a year to do it, the Union should be close to a sell-out all year once they move to the Linc.

This is a business site, not a politics site, but we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the situation in Honduras.  Multiple outlets have reported in the unrest in the Central American nation and on the potential impact of events on the USA/Honduras WC qualifier. The actual impact is unknown; CONCACAF Champions League is still going forward in Honduras, but FIFA and the USSF will certainly be hesitant to play a WCQ match in such an unsettled situation.

One final note, MLS is running a promotion with AXE shower gell.  The promotion offers prizes including trips to South Africa for the World Cup, gear and other items. While the promotion features prominently on the MLS website, it is  unclear whether any MLS themed prizes are part of the game.

Expansion Update: Philly 2010

philly

Yesterday we took a look at  the expansion situation in Vancouver.  Today we thought we would take a look at how things are progressing in the City of Brother Love.  Click here for our previous post on the Union. The team website is up and running and established ticket prices and season ticket benefits.  The Union also have a name, a coach and sharp crest.  According to reports, the Team has sold just under 10k season tickets and will cap tickets at around 15k seats in its inaugural season in its 18,500 seat home in Chester.

The Union has a strong supporters group in the Sons of Ben, who have been omnipresent over the last couple of years at an array of soccer events including the announcement of the Team, MLS Cup 2007 and even at a US Open Cup game in Connecticut between the Revs and Harrisburg, PA (about 2 hours from Philly).  Its location between DC and New York should make for some good rivalry games that will bring supporters from out of town.

Yet there are doubts.  Last weekend, the US National Team drew just over 31k at “the Linc” for a Gold Cup Quarterfinal.  This was the first major soccer event in 4 decades in Philly and just months before the Union first kick.  While some are lauding the attendance, there is a good argument that the number was disappointing.  If soccer demand was so pent up in Philly, why weren’t more in attendance?  Efforts to sell the game to Eagles season ticket holders were generally unsuccessful.

At the same time, progress on the Chester stadium is progressing slowly, and there was a recent statement from team officials that the Team might need to start its 2010 season on the road in order to ensure completion. Will people be willing to travel to Chester to see the games?  There are also questions about how receptive Philly will be to a new soccer team.  Philly is a crowded sports city and the best team in town happens to play in the summer. There is some major mainstream media opposition to soccer in the City of Brotherly Love.

Ultimately, we think Philly will succeed, especially in year one.  However, we think it will be difficult for the Union to keep demand for season tickets in excess of 10k for long. A special confluence of factors have helped Seattle and Toronto succeed, none of which are present in Philly.  We hope for the best, and do believe that Philly will be a relatively strong franchise over time.  What do you think?  Vote in our poll.

MLS 2009 Salaries Released

mlsThe MLS Players’ Union has released 2009 player salaries.   With the upcoming negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement, it will be interesting to consider how these numbers will change in the coming years.  We’ll be discussing these negotiations at length over the next few months, but for now, enjoy the numbers.