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Take Me Out to the Ballgame – The Prequel

soccer balls Take Me Out to the Ballgame   The Prequel

With the 2010 MLS season just around the corner, here’s a look back at recent MLS attendance before we move forward.

The final regular season numbers for 2009 look like this…

5 year comparison
Full Season Averages
   Avg  +/-  GP
 2005   15,108     192 
 2006   15,504   2.62%   192 
 2007   16,770   8.17%   195 
 2008   16,460   -1.85%   210 
 2009   16,037   -2.57%   225 
YTD – Games
  Average Median %<10K %>20k
 2005    15,108     12,619    27.08%   17.71% 
 2006    15,504     14,175    18.75%   18.75% 
 2007    16,770     15,353    8.21%   29.74% 
 2008    16,460     15,188    10.95%   24.76% 
 2009    16,037     14,686    14.67%   20.44% 

Here are the attendance comparisons to 2008′s full season of home games(210 v 225 games):

MLS Attendance – Equal # of Home Games
  2008 2009  
  Att Cap % Att Att +/- GP Cap % Cap
 Seattle  0   0.00%   30,897   NA  15   95.36%   32,400 
 LA Galaxy  26,009   96.33%   20,416   -21.50%   15   75.61%   27,000 
 Toronto  20,110   91.50%   20,344   1.17%   15   92.57%   21,978 
 Houston  16,939   75.28%   17,047   0.64%   15   75.77%   22,500 
 Real Salt Lake  16,179   80.03%   16,375   1.21%   15   77.79%   19,340 
 D.C. United  19,835   88.16%   16,088   -18.89%   15   71.50%   22,500 
 ChivasUSA  15,114   55.98%   15,092   -0.15%   15   55.90%   27,000 
 Chicago  17,034   85.17%   14,689   -13.77%   15   73.44%   20,000 
 Columbus Crew  14,622   73.11%   14,447   -1.20%   15   72.23%   20,000 
 San Jose  13,713   89.93%   14,114   2.93%   15   79.64%   10,300 
 NE Revolution  17,580   78.14%   13,732   -21.89%   15   61.03%   22,500 
 N.Y./N.J. Red Bulls  15,928   63.24%   12,491   -21.58%   15   49.59%   25,189 
 FC Dallas  13,024   61.45%   12,441   -4.48%   15   53.67%   21,193 
 Colorado Rapids  13,659   75.52%   12,331   -9.72%   15   68.18%   18,086 
 KC Wizards  10,686   102.90%   10,053   -5.92%   15   96.81%   10,385 

My disclaimer about the capacity calculations – Additional disclaimer note: I factored in the Dallas game at the Cotton Bowl as 100% capacity of 51,012.

So How Did They Finish?

Points after 225 Games
  Pts GP  PPG GD
 Columbus  49   30   1.63   10 
 Los Angeles  48   30   1.60   5 
 Houston  48   30   1.60   10 
 Seattle  47   30   1.57   9 
 Chicago  45   30   1.50   5 
 Chivas USA  45   30   1.50   3 
 New England  42   30   1.40   -4 
 Real Salt Lake  40   30   1.33   8 
 Colorado  40   30   1.33   4 
 DC United  40   30   1.33   -1 
 Dallas  39   30   1.30   3 
 Toronto FC  39   30   1.30   -9 
 Kansas City  33   30   1.10   -9 
 San Jose  30   30   1.00   -14 
 NY Red Bull  21   30   0.70   -20 
LA Wins West
Head to Head Tiebreaker over Houston

Observations

The combination of David Beckham’s arrival in 2007 and Seattle in 2009 has reversed the trend of more games with less than 10,000 in attendance vs more than 20,000.

MLS weathered the miserable 2009 economy fairly well. Average attendance was down only 2.56% compared to 2008. Below is a table comparing the average attendance figures of MLS to the ‘Big Four’.

Average Attendances
 League 2008 2009 +/- %
 MLS  16,459   16,037   -2.56% 
 NBA  17,395   17,504   0.63% 
 NHL  17,308   17,476   0.97% 
 MLB  32,543   30,338   -6.77% 
 NFL  68,241   67,509   -1.07% 

Streaking

  • FC Dallas did not lose at home in its last 8(7 wins).
  • RBNY finished winless on the road(27 total).
  • TFC did not lose at home in 7 straight.
  • TFC did not win on the road in 8 straight. The last loss cost them a playoff berth.
  • Colorado did not win on the road in 9 straight. Same deal as TFC.
  • RSL was unbeaten in their last 10 home games.

MLS Throw Ins

  • In 2009, no team won 50% of its games.
  • Not surprisingly, Seattle set an MLS single season attendance record. Expect them to repeat the feat as they’ve added around 3,000 seats for 2010.
  • In 15 more games, 22 fewer goals were scored than in 2008(2.53 per game vs 2.81).
  • Jeff Cunningham won his 2nd Golden Boot as the top regular season goal scorer.

    Moving forward, this season will see a balanced scheduled, i.e.; each team will play each other twice, home and away with the addition of the 16th club, the Philadelphia Union. With the extra club, there will be 240 matches this season.

    We should expect San Jose and Kansas City to bring up the rear in average attendance, given that each of their home fields seat less than 11,000. The question is whether FC Dallas, Colorado and New England improve their miserable 2009 gate numbers. And with RBNY moving into their new digs, it would be a major shock, and a big blow to Red Bull, if we didn’t see a major boost in their numbers.

    Wondering how the Union are throwing around allocation money? If the rules haven’t changed, expansion clubs get an extra $1,000,000 to use by May 15(see the 10th paragraph).

    Like it or not, it appears that there will be a 2010 version of the North American SuperLiga. A nice little money grab by Soccer United Marketing(SUM) and the FMF. And you know what, that’s fine with me. Any international exposure MLS clubs get is important, even if it’s Mexican ‘B’ teams in preseason. This year’s MLS clubs are Houston, Chicago(finalist last year), Chivas USA and New England(2008 winner).


    MLS In CONCACAF Champions League

    Another poor showing by MLS in the CCL. Houston was the biggest disappointment. Needing a victory in its final group play match, they travelled to Metapan(SLV), which had been winless with a -17 goal differential only to lose and be eliminated. DC United put up a good showing on the road at Toluca(MEX), earning a draw, albeit against a ‘B’ team, but were also eliminated. They just couldn’t recover from their poor start. Columbus barely got into the knockout phase as Saprissa(CRC) lost at home to Cruz Azul(MEX) while the Crew were tied by Puerto Rico who failed to win any of its 6 group play matches.

    Howard Hamilton of the HexagonalBlog has updated his CONCACAF coefficients which reflect Mexican club dominance in the region.

    The Crew’s quarterfinal home and home matches will be played on March 9 and 16, 2010.

    MLS clubs Real Salt Lake(MLS Cup winner), LA Galaxy(MLS Cup finalist), Seattle Sounders(Lamar Hunt US Open Cup winner) and Columbus Crew(Supporters’ Shield winner) will participate in the 2010-11 tourney

    World Cup Notes

    Any MLS players that make it onto Bob Bradley’s World Cup bound team will leave for pre tournament preparations around mid to late May and will not return before the last US group play match on June 23.

    US Soccer will earn a minimum of $9 million with $1 million paid up front to cover preparation expenses. Additionally, clubs will be compensated for the use of their players during the World Cup to the tune of $1,600 per player per day beginning 15 days before the start of the tourney until one day after the player’s participation ends. The overall prize money is 61% higher than for the 2006 World Cup.

    Speaking of the World Cup, MLS has not scheduled any matches during the group play phase of the tourney, June 11-25, which includes 2 weekends. None of the remaining matches kick off later than 2:30pm EDT. So with extra time and PK’s no match would end later than 5:30pm EDT(I’m being generous here). Amazingly, MLS earns brownie points with US soccer fans as only one league match begins before 5:30pm EDT during the knockout phase. And what match would that be? Seattle visiting Philadelphia for a 5pm EDT start in its inaugural of PPL Park! How’s this for an idea … teams that have jumbo screens open the gates early and show World Cup matches prior to the start of MLS matches. Whaddaya think?