MLS Whitecaps Drawing Well In Their Third Season, But Look To Increase Crowds
The MLS Whitecaps are in their third year as part of the league, and team President Bob Lenarduzzi said that the club's approach to increasing attendance "will remain a patient one," according to Marc Weber of the Vancouver PROVINCE. The team is "in an enviable position," as it finished the '12 season sixth in MLS with an "average of 19,475 with a reported season-ticket base of 13,000." Lenarduzzi said, "We know we're in it for the long haul and we have a good core of support. Could it be more? Yeah. But we've got to work to build that fan base. If someone had said in the USL days that we'd have an average attendance of 20,000 now, I think we'd have taken that." Weber reported the Whitecaps drew an announced crowd of 18,078 at B.C. Place for their second home game of the year on March 9 against the Crew. However, the crowd "looked to be a thousand or two less than that," and it came a week after 21,000 "showed up for the season opener" against Toronto FC. The Whitecaps last week "announced ticket promotions of up to 40 per cent for the next five home games." The club's average attendance dropped by around 1,000 from '11 to '12 "as they moved from Empire Stadium to B.C. Place and emerged as a playoff team following a last-place finish." Season-ticket sales "fell by around 2,500" after the '11 season. But the Whitecaps are not expected to try and boost sales by signing "big names." They are not in "any rush to sign" an int'l star like Michael Owen or Andrei Arshavin, though they have tried to recruit those players, and such a signing "would never be done simply for business reasons" (Vancouver PROVINCE, 4/11).