Soccer Business Bits: Expansion in Portland, Friendly Fun and More

rslAnother weekend of soccer is in the books and it was another full slate for the Beautiful Game in the States.  However, before we get to the weekend, a couple of notes.  First, Michael Lewis of the Salt Lake Tribune weighs in with a detailed piece looking at the business side of MLS.  Lewis notes the importance of the internet in helping fans follow their teams when frustrated with the lack of soccer coverage in the mainstream media.  He includes some interesting anecdotes about the “old days” of MLS, when Brian Dunseth found out when his team was folding.  Lewis includes some interviews with Don Garber and others and includes some interesting financials.  The article is a good read and provides a nice summary of the League’s business growth.

In Portland, the debate over the Timbers’ effort to renovate PGE Park continues.  Last week, Justin Curzi published a piece entitled PGE Park: The Numbers Don’t Add Up.  Therein, he argues that PGE’s current capacity is sufficent for the Timbers and that a renovation is unnecessary.  He doesn’t heavily rely on data, instead making a mostly anecdotal argument, but his comments drew a pretty strong reaction.  The comments to the article are definitely worth a read and at least one was published by the paper the following day.  The fight in Portland continues, while its cousin in expansion (Vancouver) has been relatively quiet. Despite the 2011 expansion date, Portland is an unsettled situation and we will continue to follow the story.

In Philly, the US Men snuck by Panama in front of 31k.  The write-up from Philly is here. It is hard to read much into the crowd, although you would like to think that a soccer hungry city, just months away from getting its own team would have generated a better turnout for the double header.  In Seattle, 65k came out to watch the Sounders play a friendly against Chelsea.  The crowd sounded great, and by all reports, were heavily favoring the Sounders.  A big crowd also showed in in Palo Alto for the Inter/America game in the opener of the World Football Challenge (on ESPN2).  Finally, a sell-out was announced for the Galaxy’s home game against AC Milan.  FSC will broadcast the match on Monday night. milan

Business Bits: Invasion of the Super Clubs

milanFour of the World’s largest soccer clubs will be touring the U.S. this summer in the “World Football Challenge”  The event boasts Inter Milan, Chelsea, Club America and AC Milan in a series of matches across the U.S.  Venues include the new Cowboys’ stadium, Foxboro and Palo Alto.  The event is run by Creative Artists.

Summer tours by big time clubs have become an annual ritual, as European teams gear up for their new seasons in the comfortable weather of North America.  The tours typically include some MFL and MLS competition, participation in the MLS All-Star Game and draw great numbers every year.  The popularity of these events continues to show the reach of the World’s Game in the U.S.  MLS has to harness these fans and convince them to keep coming for the MLS product.

After trying to package their AC Milan friendly with the season opener, the Galaxy are already selling the game as a stand alone event.  That is a pretty disappointing circumstance for the League’s most visible franchise.  Opening night attendance was very poor for the Galaxy despite the effort to pair the match with the Milan game.  The team is also offering a $1 beer and hot dog promotion prior to their next home game.

Newly designated expansion franchise Vancouver has announced that it has already sold its initial allotment of 5k season ticket deposits; the deposits were snapped up in less than 48 hours.  According to the team, the new deposits will slot in line behind current Whitecap season ticket holders in the rush to reserve season seats.  Remarkably, kick-off for the MLS version of the Whitecaps is still two years away.  bc-place