MLS FACES INCREASED MEDIA EXPECTATIONS IN YEAR TWO
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).