It was a welcome announcement that MLS will not schedule matches during the group phase, semifinals and finals of the 2010 World Cup. That means the league will not play from Friday, June 11 through Friday, June 25. The WC round of 16 will be played from Saturday June 26 through Tuesday June 29. Wednesday and Thursday, June 30-July 1 are off days. The quarterfinals will be on Friday July 2 and Saturday July 3. Here MLS gets a break as July 4(and 5) are rest days, the Fourth traditionally being a big attendance day. The tourney closes with the semis on Tuesday and Wednesday, the 6th and 7th, a couple of rest days and the consolation game(3rd/4th) on Saturday the 10th and the final on Sunday the 11th.
In the past, one of the reasons given not to respect the FIFA calendar was the complaint that the reduced revenue of weekday matches would not be acceptable while the league was trying to reach a stable financial position.
Jack Bell covered the Supporters’ Summit last year. Here is an excerpt in which Don Garber says:
“It would cost us up to $5 million to take off all the FIFA dates, which increase in number in 2009.”
So I banged together a few numbers from 2008 to see what it told me. 42 games were played Mon-Fri as follows:
|2008 Weekday Games|
|Monday – 1|
|Tuesday – 0|
|Wednesday – 9|
|Thursday – 27(ESPN Thursday nights)|
|Friday – 5, 3 of which were played on July 4|
Here you can see the average attendance for weekends(Sat and Sun) and weekdays and the average differences. The average difference is then multiplied times the number of weekday games.
|Avg||GP||Avg||GP||Avg +/-||GP times Avg +/-|
|New England||16,834||10||19,074||5||2,240||11,200||one int’l friendly|
|NY Red Bull||16,386||14||9,521||1||-6,865||-6,865|
|Real Salt Lake||16,688||10||15,163||5||-1,525||-7,625|
Using approximate game day revenue numbers as gathered over the years when such things leak out, we are able to come up with a very rough approximation of per capita game day spending. The numbers I am using are as follows: Tickets: $18, Food: $7, Merchandise: $5. Since every venue does not charge for parking, I left that out. So I’m just calling it $30 per head and using that with published attendance numbers. Applying these we get a game day loss for the 42 weekday games of $1,915,950.
|2009 Weekday Games|
|Monday – 0|
|Tuesday – 0|
|Wednesday – 14 (ESPN 3)|
|Thursday – 8 (ESPN 6, FSC 1)|
|Friday – 8 (ESPN 3)|
(There are two more weekday games this season.)
|Avg||GP||Avg||GP||Avg +/-||GP times Avg +/-|
|Los Angeles||19,812||13||21,679||1||1,867||1,867||no Blanco|
|NY Red Bull||11,254||11||14,086||3||2,832||8,497||Beckham|
2008: Let’s look at the three teams that had 5 weekday games, a full third of their home schedules, FC Dallas, New England and Real Salt Lake. RSL fared better than Dallas, but both suffered from reduced averages, while New England paired up one of its weekday games with an international friendly featuring Brasil v Venezuela. That game drew over 54,000 which was enough to put them in the positive column for their weekday games.
If you sum the extended numbers you come up with a deficit of 63,866 over the 42 weekday games. That would be part of MLS’s argument. Some teams would not tolerate the loss in revenue. But it’s clear that if create a marketable item, either with a big draw player, or an intriguing event to pair with an MLS match, the attendance deficit argument looks to be very flimsy. In fact, the league cut down the weekday matches by 10(by season’s end) in 2009, despite the heavy schedule of CONCACAF and FIFA events.
2009: What can we say about these numbers? The first one that jumps out is the Dallas number. Time after time we see that scheduling international friendlies with MLS games boosts attendance regardless of the day of week. The other is Chivas USA’s massive increase in the average when Blanco and Beckham were the opponents. Just goes to show that if you bring ‘the goods’, people will come out on a weekday.
Here’s a compilation of MLS attendance by day as of play ending Oct 8, 2009.
|MLS Attendance by Day|
Now before any nit pickers get their rocks off with a rant, let me say this is a very rough picture of the effects of weekday v weekend game days. But it does serve as a sort of baseline to reference when I hear pronouncements such as ‘The Don’ made about the problems of more weekday matches. Hell, we even see that with 2 weekday matches to go in 2009, the average attendance is up over weekend matches.
Whether it be scheduling international friendlies, club friendlies, concerts or other variety events, it seems very clear to me that creative marketing departments will be the determining factor for teams making the best of more weekday matches, in particular during the summer months when schools are out of session. And if the draw is strong enough, i.e.; Mexico playing in Dallas, even a school night can be overcome.
25+ Channels With Sports & News
- Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
- Watch Premier League, Liga MX, MLS & World Cup
- Includes ESPN, FOX, Univision, TUDN and more
Favorite Leagues At The Best Price
- Starting price: $7.99/mo. for Live TV Package
- Watch Argentine league, Brasileirāo and Copa Libertadores
- Includes beIN SPORTS, GolTV, TyC Sports and more
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
- Price: $6.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $13.99/mo.)
- Features LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, Copa del Rey & more
- Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
Live TV, Soccer & Originals
- Starting price: $4.99/mo.
- Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & more
- Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
- Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
- Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
- Includes Premier League TV channel plus movies, TV shows & more
Get All 3 And Save 30%
- $13.99/mo. for ESPN+, Disney+ & Hulu
- Includes Bundesliga, LaLiga, NHL & the home to UFC
- Features Marvel, Star Wars + shows & movies for your entire family