Unfortunately, he apparently wanted to take it to 1982.
(Spoiler alert – you might not want to go past the jump if you haven’t seen this one yet.)
Unfortunately, he apparently wanted to take it to 1982.
(Spoiler alert – you might not want to go past the jump if you haven’t seen this one yet.)
I love this moment, where a(n alleged) Cosmos fan shows he needs to brush up on current events. (H/T to Nico, originally happened here.)
I have an article published in this month’s issue of Stadium Journey magazine (though I didn’t write about stadiums, oddly enough). Thanks to a recommendation from my man Josh Hakala (whose excellent TheCup.us you should visit, especially this time of year), they asked me to write about the pros and cons of promotion and relegation (a topic I may have mentioned before) for their all-soccer issue.
I didn’t write it as prole bait, but I figure it’s going to end up drawing out the batshit crazy brigade. As you know (unless you’re one of the batshit crazy brigade), I’m not personally opposed to the concept – I just don’t think it’s realistic in America now, and maybe not ever. But despite presenting what I think is a balanced look at the advantages and drawbacks of such a system, I fear the “hostile media effect” is going to be in play here and the proles are going to be sure my bias is showing through. Which ( a ) would be nothing new and ( b ) comes with the territory, I guess.
But if they read it, it probably means they bought it, so that’s good. The magazine itself is a good read for anyone who likes to visit stadiums and have sports experiences around the country, so I encourage you to visit them and buy the print or electronic versions of the May issue.
Now that every professional (men’s and women’s) team in MLS, the NASL, USL Pro and the NWSL has had at least one home match, we can take a look at the attendance figures for each team in the various leagues through games of May 5. (As always, corrections are welcome.)
|THE MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER|
|Los Angeles Galaxy||5||105,156||21,031|
|Real Salt Lake||5||90,764||18,153|
|New York Red Bulls||4||68,213||17,053|
|New England Revolution||3||40,882||13,627|
|San Jose Earthquakes||6||62,699||10,450|
|NORTH AMERICAN SOCCER LEAGUE|
|San Antonio Scorpions||2||15,230||7,615|
|Minnesota Stars FC||3||15,714||5,238|
|Fort Lauderdale Strikers||2||9,764||4,882|
|Tampa Bay Rowdies||3||11,219||3,740|
|Dayton Dutch Lions||*1||1,436||1,436|
|Harrisburg City Islanders||2||2,769||1,385|
|Los Angeles Blues||*4||2,637||659|
|VSI Tampa FC||4||2,264||566|
|MLS Reserve Teams||3||10,373||3,458|
|USL PRO TOTAL||37||99,232||2,682|
|*=Missing one game|
|NATIONAL WOMEN’S SOCCER LEAGUE|
|Portland Thorns FC||1||16,479||16,479|
|FC Kansas City||2||10,848||5,424|
|Western NY Flash||2||6,192||3,096|
|Seattle Reign FC||1||2,618||2,618|
|Sky Blue FC||1||2,611||2,611|
|Chicago Red Stars||2||4,110||2,055|
Several months back, I wondered what effect the NHL lockout was having on attendance at games in the American Hockey League, whose 30 teams are all affiliates of NHL clubs. Now that the AHL season has ended, we can look at how all 78 minor-league clubs fared at the gate from the time the lockout ended until this past weekend.
You’ll see four columns for each team in the table below. The first is each club’s average home announced attendance as of the last day of the lockout (through games of January 18, 2013). Next is the average home announced attendance for all games from that point until the end of each team’s season. Then there’s the team’s final average announced attendance for the entire season. Finally, the percentage in the fourth column is the difference between the average for games during the lockout and for games after the lockout. Teams are ranked here by how big a “hit” they took (how much their average dropped) when the NHL returned to play. A positive number, obviously, indicates an increase in attendance post-lockout.
|San Francisco Bulls||ECHL||4,635||3,577||4,164||-22.83%|
|Bridgeport Sound Tigers||AHL||5,681||5,023||5,300||-11.58%|
|1000 Islands Privateers||FHL||921||815||880||-11.46%|
|St. John’s IceCaps||AHL||6,287||6,287||6,287||0.00%|
|Rapid City Rush||CHL||4,661||4,663||4,662||0.05%|
|Augusta River Hawks||SPHL||1,811||1,864||1,830||2.94%|
|Oklahoma City Barons||AHL||3,453||3,619||3,527||4.80%|
|Orlando Solar Bears||ECHL||6,477||6,821||6,668||5.31%|
|Fort Wayne Komets||ECHL||7,402||7,867||7,583||6.28%|
|Knoxville Ice Bears||SPHL||3,320||3,577||3,449||7.75%|
|Lake Erie Monsters||AHL||7,243||8,033||7,680||10.91%|
|Las Vegas Wranglers||ECHL||4,326||4,824||4,561||11.51%|
|Fort Worth Brahmas||CHL||1,636||1,983||1,763||21.24%|
|Pensacola Ice Flyers||SPHL||2,911||3,572||3,289||22.71%|
|Grand Rapids Griffins||AHL||6,763||8,804||7,676||30.18%|
|San Antonio Rampage||AHL||6,067||8,303||7,067||36.85%|
|South Carolina Stingrays||ECHL||2,947||4,176||3,528||41.71%|
|Quad City Mallards||CHL||2,529||3,666||3,080||44.95%|
|Greenville Road Warriors||ECHL||3,061||4,693||3,605||53.32%|
|New York Bluefins||FHL||424||N/A||424||N/A|
Sixty-one of the seventy-eight minor-league hockey teams saw an increase in their average announced attendance once the NHL lockout was over, ranging from the negligible (Rapid City, two people per game) to the profound (Columbus, Greenville and Milwaukee, all up more than 50%). Every league was also up, from the seven percent of the Federal League to the 26 percent of the SPHL.
Some individual markets saw steep declines, including Hamilton (did the return of the Leafs, and their first trip to the playoffs in nine years, make an impact there?), San Francisco (with the Sharks in nearby San Jose), Elmira and Rochester (both near Buffalo) and Bridgeport (the closest minor-league market to New York) all off by 12 to 23 percent.
I wouldn’t attribute all of this to the return of the NHL, and different markets may react very differently. There could be any number of reasons above and beyond the idea that hockey fans felt better about the game once the lockout was over and wanted to consume it at whatever level was closest to them. But you can’t prove from these numbers that the absence of the NHL was better for the minor-league hockey business.
Highmark Stadium in Pittsburgh is one-third of a trio of exciting developments for American soccer that launch this weekend. Two of the three are examples of the sport putting down roots, while the other tries to prove that something can grow on land that’s produced a thin harvest in two previous tries.
The Pittsburgh Riverhounds of USL Pro play their first game at their new, 3,500-seat stadium on the river tomorrow night against Harrisburg. With outstanding views of the city behind it, Highmark Stadium should provide one of the best spectator experiences in the third division (and probably better than some clubs above them provide). The Riverhounds have been around (off and on) since 1999, but will get a good relaunch from a sellout crowd and hope to finally become a part of Pittsburgh’s sporting consciousness.
Meanwhile, the San Antonio Scorpions’ Toyota Field opens tomorrow night when the Tampa Bay Rowdies come to the Alamo City. The 8,000-seat stadium is a little spartan, but has a grass field and looks like a tremendous home for the 2012 NASL attendance-leading Scorpions.
Finally, the third (and maybe final) attempt at a pro women’s soccer league in this country kicks off this weekend as the National Women’s Soccer League stages four games. FC Kansas City hosts Portland Saturday night in the first match in league history, while three other games are Sunday. In Seattle, where a bevy of US Women’s National Teamers helped the Seattle Sounders Women lead the W-League in attendance last summer, the NWSL entry, the Reign, hasn’t seen an outpouring of support just yet.
On the business side, owner Bill Predmore admitted Thursday that he is “disappointed” with season-ticket sales so far, and corporate sponsorships haven’t met expectations.
Elsewhere, the team’s general manager, Amy Carnell, resigned Monday for personal reasons.
“Probably somewhat naively, I thought it was going to be less difficult than it’s proven to be,” Predmore said. “I think I just underestimated the task at hand and really how short a period four months really is.”
While a new business model – where the soccer federations of the US, Canada and Mexico pay the salaries of star players – relieves some of the expense pressure from teams in this new league, the revenue side is still going to be the key. If the NWSL can’t do better at the gate than the WUSA and WPS did, it may find itself in similar straits before long.
I didn’t think Phoenix FC would sell out their home opener, but they had a great crowd on a gorgeous evening and came away with a 1-0 win over VSI Tampa Bay FC on Saturday night.
Sun Devil Soccer Stadium, expanded from just over a thousand seats to somewhere between 2,500 and 3,600, depending on the source, is a terrific venue for USL Pro. Intimate yet not cramped, spartan yet not ramshackle, it feels like it will be a cool place to watch a game (until it’s 113 degrees, at least). And La Furia Roja, the supporters group, kept at least one side of the stadium rocking even when Netinho wasn’t scoring the first goal in club history.
VSI Tampa Bay was playing its first-ever match (it looked like they’d been thrown together at the last minute, and we could have played until Monday morning and I don’t think they would have scored), so Orlando coming to town on Sunday will be a better test of the actual soccer. Phoenix FC’s game operations still need some work (halftime consisted of a kid trying to kick a ball at a t-shirt hung from the crossbar) and they don’t have any visible sponsors, but the stadium and the result were just fine for the first night.
Good job by them, not a great prediction by me. Kudos to everybody involved and let’s see what happens next.
It’s not a big controversy, but I found it slightly interesting that FC Kansas City’s uniforms (the first to be unveiled in the new National Women’s Soccer League) bear the logo of a local boxing club, while Portland Thorns FC had to discontinue selling a t-shirt with the (clever and mildly ribald) slogan, “Feelin’ Thorny?”
The message, of course, is that women can be fighters, but not lovers.
(Yes, yes, I get it: Kansas City isn’t advocating violence, they’re promoting fitness, and the boxing gym’s clientele is supposedly 75% female, so it’s not a inappropriate shirt sponsor at all. I just thought the kerfuffle over the Portland t-shirt was overblown and shows how a small group of people can get honked off over something innocuous and halt the whole enterprise.)
The conditions surrounding last night’s CONCACAF World Cup qualifier between the United States and Costa Rica were virtually unprecedented.
Oh, it snowed a lot, too.
The exemplar of many US fans’ winter of discontent as spring sprang was this Sporting News article revealing widespread player disenchantment with coach Jurgen Klinsmann‘s methods. (Only a cynic would point out that such a story could have been written any time in the six weeks between qualifiers, but was curiously or methodically timed for maximum page views and promotion of angst.)
Some 22 persons connected to the US team (including “11 current players”) are quoted anonymously in the 5,262-word story. (By the way, if you’ve never done so, you should check out the generally-accepted guidelines for why and how journalists should use anonymous sources. I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’.) Many question Klinsmann’s training routine, player selection and strategic approach, saying he lacks tactical acumen and his constant lineup changes break cohesion. You know, the complete opposite of the guy who used to coach the team.
Players Who Didn’t Remain Nameless (commonly referred to as “leaders”), including Carlos Bocanegra, Michael Bradley and Herculez Gomez, displayed varying degrees of umbrage. Gomez’s take, that these types of stories prove the game and the team matter to people, is perhaps the most interesting. Call it The Afterbirth of a Soccer Nation, if you will. And it only took a hundred years.
Anyway, there was no real way to discern if the story and the resulting
page views rational discussions of it lit a fire under the US team or not (I’m sure most in the crowd of 19,374 would have appreciated one being lit under them), because the Yanks’ 1-0 win was purely about survival. Clint Dempsey (named captain in Bocanegra’s absence) scored the only goal, Brad Guzan (subbing for the injured Tim Howard) made five saves and looked in command, and Bradley and Gomez managed to play in and with the precious snowflakes for 90 minutes.
So less than six months after at least one writer felt the US was in danger of not qualifying for the World Cup (fearmongering being great for page views and all), here they are, second place in the group after two matches, with four home games left. The US’s task is to win all the home games and get one road result – exactly the scenario they faced going into the Hex.
Tuesday’s match at Mexico, while not really a must-win for anybody but José Manuel de la Torre after El Tri’s second straight Hex draw, is nonetheless a chance for the US squad to exorcise some demons. A result – or even a good performance – could change the tenor of the stories that get written in the 10+ weeks until the next qualifier at Jamaica, if not the agendas behind them.
With its home inaugural match in USL Pro a week away, Phoenix FC has removed eight sections – totaling, by my count, more than 1,600 seats – from its stadium configuration. The redesign leaves Sun Devil Soccer Stadium with less than half the capacity its new occupants originally advertised it would have.
When I first looked at how the expansion team was faring at selling season tickets for its maiden campaign just over two weeks ago, I counted about 3,888 seats in the proposed configuration. Since then, Sections 103 to 106 on the north side and Sections 208 to 2011 on the east side – which originally totaled 1,620 seats – have disappeared, along with one of the two proposed beer gardens.
Either they realized once the seats started going in that they wouldn’t all fit or slow ticket sales convinced them to downsize. Regardless, my unofficial count based on the seating charts on their ticketing website shows 2,224 actual seats in the stadium (plus whatever section 301, the Supporters Section behind the south goal, can hold, which, based on this photo, can’t be much).
As of Friday morning, about 1,062 of the 2,224 seats weren’t available for purchase online (meaning they’re either sold or in reserve – it appears as though Sections C and J on the west side, a total of 170 seats, are being held back for internal use). That’s actually not a bad start for a first-year club that has done basically no advertising, but it’s a long way from the anticipated 5,000-seat sellouts for the whole season.
Phoenix is USL Pro’s second-largest market, but Phoenix FC will play in the league’s third-smallest venue (pending VSI Tampa Bay’s stadium announcement, which, come on, guys). That’s good for creating an intimate atmosphere and increasing the impetus to purchase tickets in advance, but it may not be great for revenue, even with some of the highest ticket prices in the league.
The Wolves play their first-ever league match tonight at Los Angeles (a team with a big stadium and small crowds) before the home opener on Saturday, March 30 at 7:30 p.m. against Tampa Bay.
I’ll be there. I’ll be interested to see who else is.