So Far, So Good… So What!
(Just a quick warning, this is a long ramble with no direction…just thoughts coming out so read at your own risk. I promise, my next post will the thought through before I start typing.)
Well, my NCAA Bracket is doing my head in. I guess it would have helped if I had watched a few games this season. I haven’t seen any and don’t know what’s going on except that my Alma Mater didn’t even come close to making the field–though the women are in.
In other news, MLS season starts the same night as the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Most would probably say that is a massive mistake but seriously, MLS has tried and failed for–how long has MLS existed?–14 seasons. It’s time to just forget about selling to the masses. It’s time focus on giving the fans the league has the best product possible.
Okay, I admit it, I’m a dreamer. Back in 1996 I started going to Galaxy games because I wanted to see live soccer in this country. I wanted to be able to go to games and enjoy the atmosphere. To be honest, the level of soccer back in the early days was awful. Things have improved there. What I remember most was going to midweek games in the late 90’s. Crowds at the Rose Bowl were usually on the small side for those matches. It was great to show up a few minutes before kick off, grab a beer and find my seat once the National Anthem pyrotechnics had cleared. My seats were on the half-way line across from the press box. Those around were regulars too. Of course, I knew at that time those numbers wouldn’t keep the league around forever but I do still have pleasant memories of those days.
Way back when I was an undergrad I had a Marketing professor who drilled into our heads (well, it stuck in mine) that in order to effectively market, you need to know your target. We were told a couple of years ago by The Don that the targets were (and I’m paraphrasing here cuz I can’t be bothered to look it up) Youth Soccer, American Sports fans and the existing soccer fans in this country.
Well, it sounded good. However, being in that last group, I always got the feeling from the Galaxy that, well, I going to always buy season tickets so who cares? Who cares that if I took advantage of all the various promtions I could attend every match for less money? Yeah, I wouldn’t have the same seat (as was the response I got when I presented that to the person who took my ticket order) every match…actually, its sometimes fun to see from different angles.
The thing is, and I honestly don’t remember where I’d intended to go when I started writing this, MLS has never been about providing quality soccer for fans to appreciate. It’s simply a method to make money. Now, I would never take away the right of the leagues investors to make money…heck, they should make some. The thing is, I’ve said since 1996, put the best eleven players on the pitch you can and fans will show up. But what have LA fans been given over the years? Campos, Hermosillo, Hernandez, Bo, Hertzog and Beckham. Every one of them have taken a large chunk of the salary cap meaning there was a drop off in talent…especially when Luther, Octavio or Sigi went to the bench. This was the biggest draw back in the Beckham deal. I’m better he wanted out of LA because he couldn’t have the players he needed around him to allow him to be the type of player which made him famous. Nope, what’s more important is making sure there’s a ‘buzz’ around the team and tickets and shirts are selling. What happens when that stops or the new wears off? Then they create a new buzz…some other spin on things.
Why can’t they (that’s the “they” who make the decisions about MLS and the various teams) just focus on putting the best possible teams on the pitch? Ah, if only life were just that easy.
You know, Montreal managed to get 50,000 people to buy tickets to see them play Santos in the Champions Cup. No ‘buzz’ from a player. Just 50,000 people who turned up, plonked down their hard earned Canadian Dollars to be entertained for 2 hours. Guess what, they were and it was a great match.
Today we are finding out that Vancouver and Portland will be joining MLS in 2011. Sorry if I can’t get excited. two more teams to delute an already drying talent pool. Oh, and two more teams are on the way in 2012. That means existing teams will be running the risk of losing several players in the expansion drafts. That settled teams won’t be settled. We’ll be having expansion drafts every year for…heck, it keeps going….
But the good news for the long downtrodden MLS owners is, Vancouver paid $35million for the franchise (at least that’s what their Twitter account says) I’m going to assume that’s US$ and not Canadian. Portland will probably pay something around that. I guess the owners are making up for their losses in the early years.
But this leads me to a couple of questions, sure, the league makes money but for how long? How big can the league actually grow? Will USL be able to survive with their teams (and owners) moving to MLS? Is owning just under half of an MLS franchise for $35 million worth more than owning an entire USL franchise?
I’m guessing value wise, reducing your risk is always good.
I’m not sure when I started to write this I intended to sound this negitive. I really don’t wanna take anything away from the fans in Vancouver or Portland (or Seattle, or Philly) but, well, for 14 years, improvement has been slow.
But at the end of the day, I may not be as excited as I once would have been but I’ll be watching the match tomorrow night. Here we go with another new season. Who would have thought back in 1996 that the league would still be going and growing?
Right, I’m in the mood for some Rattlehead.
Popularity: unranked [?]