SBD/July 9, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Klein, Abbott Predict MLS Attendance Will Grow Gradually After World Cup Mania Gripped U.S.

Average MLS attendance has climbed 11% since the '10 World Cup was played
Galaxy President Chris Klein and MLS President & Deputy Commissioner Mark Abbott predicated that enthusiasm over the FIFA World Cup "would gradually send more fans through turnstiles" at league stadiums, according to Jim Peltz of the L.A. TIMES. Abbott: "There will be increased attendance. Over time and even this year (the World Cup) will have a positive focus. It's the long-term, continued overall growth of the fan base." Before the World Cup began June 12, attendance at MLS games this season "was averaging 18,497; it has since inched up to an average 18,503." Abbott noted that since the '10 World Cup, MLS' average attendance "has climbed 11% from 16,675." After a two-week break in observance of the World Cup, the league resumed play June 25. That meant many of its teams' initial games after the World Cup "occurred over the July 4 holiday weekend, which typically is one of their most popular weekends every year." For instance, the Galaxy "sold out a year ago when it played at StubHub Center over the July 4 holiday." MLS execs said that the fervor surrounding this year's World Cup "would benefit the league because the connection among U.S. soccer fans was unlike any World Cup in the past." Klein said the World Cup "may have turned some people's eyes" toward attending MLS games for the first time. But he added, "The World Cup threw gasoline on the fire that we've already had" (L.A. TIMES, 7/9).

STOPPAGE TIME: In San Diego, Nick Canepa writes while some believe soccer "one day will be the great American sport," it is "not going to happen." Despite the fact that soccer is a "great sport that obviously has captured many U.S. citizens’ fancies during this World Cup," it only did so "until the American team was eliminated." Canepa: "I believe soccer never will become football, baseball or basketball in this country. It just doesn’t have the proper makeup here. ... We are an event-loving country, and surely the World Cup is all that. But so are the Olympic Games, and like the Cup, they come around every four years. We watch them, we love them, and then we forget them." Americans also "adore stars, and U.S. soccer has yet to produce a hang-your-hat-on celebrity." U.S. G Tim Howard "was the unquestioned American luminary in Brazil, but he’s a goalie -- and a 35-year-old goalie, at that" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 7/9).
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