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MLS FACES INCREASED MEDIA EXPECTATIONS IN YEAR TWO
Published March 19, 1997
MLS' second season begins this Saturday with most teams in action. In Tampa, Bill Ward examined MLS' second season, noting, "In many ways, Major League Soccer's inaugural season last year was almost too successful." Ward: "For all it accomplished, it left MLS executives with a problem: How are they going to top it this year?" Ward adds that "showing modest gains, improving the level of play and shoring up the trouble spots will be no easy task in 1997" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 3/16). In San Diego, Mark Zeigler notes the offseason moves made by the league, the league office moving to New York, more foreign players, and "talk" of expansion. Ziegler: "Good changes. Important changes. Necessary changes. The point is, the league is not standing pat. It isn't because it can't" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 3/19). League Commissioner Doug Logan said he expects the average attendance will rise 15% in '97, from 17,416 to 20,000. The ten MLS teams have sold 34,000 season-tickets, a six percent increase over last year (AP/N.Y. POST, 3/16). STAR STRUCK: In N.Y., the DAILY NEWS' Michael Lewis noted the MetroStars are 30% ahead of season-ticket sales at this time last year at nearly 8,000; the target is 12,000. Lewis wrote an average attendance of 30,000 "isn't out of the question" due to the area's extensive fan base and that 14 of 16 home games are on weekends (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/16). NEXT STEPS: SI's "Scorecard" previews year two, and notes the newly formed MLSPA's class-action suit claiming the league is illegally holding down salaries. SI: "Though it poses a formidable challenge to MLS, the suit will take anywhere from three to 10 years to get through the courts. Both sides would be wise to avoid acrimony that could tear the league apart" (SI, 3/24 issue). THROW INS: Nearly 34,000 tickets have been sold for the USA-Mexico World Cup qualifying match at Foxboro Stadium on April 20. The match, televised by ABC, will be followed by an MLS Mutiny-Revolution contest (U.S. Soccer).