SBD/October 17, 2012/Franchises

CFL Lions, MLS Whitecaps Struggle To Draw Crowds At BC Place Despite On-Field Success

The CFL Lions are averaging under 29,000 fans per game at BC Place
Attendance at BC Place Stadium for the CFL Lions and MLS Whitecaps has “slipped ever since” the facility opened, according to Bruce Constantineau of the VANCOUVER SUN. There were "more than 50,000 rabid Lions fans" filling the new facility on opening day, while 21,000 Whitecaps supporters "packed the soccer-specific lower bowl one day later." The Lions are “averaging just under 29,000 fans a game this season and the Caps are attracting about 19,400." It is a “head scratcher as both clubs have played winning football at home this year.” Lions President & CEO Dennis Skulsky said that the Lions “remain a profitable business, despite the lacklustre attendance but stressed that could go 'either way' very easily." The Whitecaps “won’t reveal if they’re profitable but it’s difficult to picture them being in any kind of financial straits with such a strong corporate sponsorship base and attendance that still ranks in the top third of the league.” Constantineau noted "poor on-field performance last year and the end of the first-year MLS curiosity factor contributed to the team’s season-ticket base falling to 13,000 this year from more than 15,000 in 2011.” The team recently “offered season-ticket holders a 12-percent discount if they committed to 2013 season tickets by early October -- an offer that created the lowest season ticket prices in the club’s brief MLS history.” The Whitecaps will “try to attract more young people to games next season by introducing a new student season ticket for university and college students.” While Lions games “attract an average television audience of more than 800,000, Whitecaps games have attracted an average of 80,000 viewers on Sportsnet Pacific this year, up 38 per cent from last year.” TSN broadcasts “have maintained last year’s average of 149,000 viewers” (VANCOUVER SUN, 10/13).
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Franchises, Vancouver Whitecaps, CFL, MLS

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