The MLS Dynamo on Thursday defeated the Impact in an MLS Cup Eastern Conference Knockout Round playoff game in front of a "stunningly small crowd of 10,476," leaving BBVA Compass Stadium "more than half empty," according to Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. Dynamo coach Dominic Kinnear said, "I want to give praise to the people who showed up tonight to watch this game. I'm sure there'll be 20,000 more that said they were here along the way. I want to thank the fans who showed up." Ortiz notes the small crowd "makes it clear that Houston still has a long way to go as a soccer town." The empty seats at the 22,039-capacity stadium "gave soccer critics in town more ammunition, but the Dynamo performance was a great example of the best of MLS" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 11/1). Ortiz wrote there was "absolutely no excuse for such miserable attendance" for the game. Even the announced attendance "appeared to be inflated." Ortiz wrote the next time a fan "whines about soccer coverage or tries to compare MLS" to MLB, the Texans or the Rockets, "show them a picture of empty BBVA Compass Stadium." Ortiz: "Don’t call Houston a soccer town if they cannot sell out a playoff game. Ever" (CHRON.com, 10/31).
CROWDED FIELD: In Portland, Jamie Goldberg notes since MLS is "taking a full two weeks off in the middle of the playoffs to accommodate FIFA games, all four teams that make the conference finals will have to play a game on short rest." Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said, "It’s not ideal. Having to spread out the playoffs is not ideal from a playing or a marketing standpoint. It’s the way it is, and the teams have to deal with it best they can." Goldberg notes while MLS "attempted to create a competitively balanced playoff schedule, the league had to take into account field availability and TV contracts when setting the schedule." MLS had to schedule Timbers-Sounders for Saturday because the Seahawks "have a game on Sunday" (Portland OREGONIAN, 11/1). Meanwhile, Sounders GM & minority Owner Adrian Hanauer Thursday noted NFL lines will be on the CenturyLink Field surface for Saturday's game and said fans "should be prepared for a football field pretending to be a soccer field." Hanauer: "It’s the unfortunate reality of a two-professional-team stadium with the timing. ... We're not happy about it, but we’re going to have to make the most of it." He added, "The only way around it is creating massive risk for a nationally televised NFL game. Again, in the weighed risk, I understand why this is where we’re at with this solution" (SEATTLETIMES.com, 10/31).
In Chicago, Danny Ecker wrote one year after the White Sox "dramatically cut ticket prices across the board, the team is keeping prices flat" in '14. Prices in all season-ticket seating sections "will be unchanged next year." One new feature next year is that the White Sox will spell out the "specific costs of the 12 percent city and county amusement taxes as opposed to just noting that they exist." The Blackhawks and Bulls this season "employed a similar tactic to play up the exact values of the ticket taxes teams pay" (CHICAGOBUSINESS.com, 10/31).
CHAIN OF COMMAND: In DC, Adam Kilgore notes the Nationals on Thursday hired D-Backs 3B coach Matt Williams as their new manager. Bench coach Randy Knorr "will return to the Nationals' coaching staff even after the team bypassed him" for the managerial position. Knorr’s presence in the dugout "could be seen as a strange dynamic -- players openly lobbied for him to become the manager, and now he will be present as Williams works to mold the team in his image." However, Knorr’s personality "will help alleviate that concern," as he is "not the undermining type, and he does not expect any awkwardness" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/1).
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE: Baseball writer Murray Chass wrote of Red Sox President & CEO Larry Lucchino's dealings with former manager Bobby Valentine, "I don’t know if Lucchino has acknowledged his mistake publicly, but his decisions beginning with Valentine speak volumes for him." Not everyone who "makes mistakes in front of millions of people can acknowledge the errors of his ways, but Lucchino did and he deserves credit for that." Lucchino "also deserves credit" with GM Ben Cherington for the "roster makeover that fueled the Series triumph" (MURRAYCHASS.com, 10/31).
TiqIQ VP/Data & Communications Chris Matcovich said that Knicks tickets "are the most expensive" in the NBA on the secondary ticket market, and Nets tickets "rank 4th." The average Knicks ticket price this season is $320.92, which is 11.46% higher than it was at the beginning of last season, when the average was $287.93. The average Nets ticket price this season is $228.51, which is 15.96% higher than at the beginning of last season when the average was $197.06. In New Jersey, John Brennan noted only four other teams -- the Lakers ($284.84), Heat ($276.45), Bulls ($197.45) and Thunder ($187.16) -- "have an average resale price of $150." Twelve teams "have an average resale price below $100," including the T'Wolves "at a league low $71.16" (NORTHJERSEY.com, 10/30).
THE KINGS' SPEECH: In Sacramento, Jason Jones wrote that while brief comments by Kings Managing Partner Vivek Ranadive and city Mayor Kevin Johnson addressed to NBA Commissioner David Stern at the team's opener Wednesday were "a nice touch," the crowd "should have heard from Stern, too." Jones: "Presenting Stern with the key to the city was great, but he should have been handed the microphone" (SACBEE.com, 10/31). Also in Sacramento, Joe Davidson writes "if greatness really does start at the top, the Kings have struck gold" in Ranadive, who "radiates confidence." He is "a visionary, a proven winner in the business world." He also is "largely without ego, deflecting credit and reminding often that he surrounds himself with 'much smarter people'" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 11/1).
NOT SO JOLLY: A FLORIDA TIMES-UNION editorial stated the Jaguars' scheduling of annual games in London "is a business venture, pure and simple," and team Owner Shahid Khan has "every right to do as he chooses, including bending lease agreements" at EverBank Field. But taking premium games overseas "takes business away from locals who benefit when the big names come to town," and the fans, particularly the season-ticket holders, are "put on the back burner." The editorial: "That's what we get after all the losing seasons, yet loyal support?" (JACKSONVILLE.com, 10/31).