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Fri Apr 27, 2012, 12:40 PM

Not Your Older Brother's MLS: Soccer Matters America

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jason-grill/major-league-soccer_b_1443011.html

"First things first. We're talking about Major League Soccer not Multiple Listing Service here. However, soccer in America is taking up major real estate as it is a league and a sport that is on the rise. A recent report shows that Major League Soccer's attendance is skyrocketing and has passed both the National Hockey League and National Basketball Association in average attendance. CBS News reports that it appears that soccer is well on the road to becoming America's third favorite sport, after American football and baseball.

So why is MLS and the sport of soccer having so much recent success? Many factors contribute to this formula. Soccer is no longer just for "hipsters" or people who like to be different in the America sports culture. I have seen this up close with the growth of Kansas City's soccer franchise Sporting KC. A re-brand from the KC Wizards to Sporting KC, as well as the opening of the state of the art, soccer-specific Livestrong Sporting Park has taking soccer in Kansas City to the next level. This is happening all over the country with the number of soccer-specific stadiums being built. Currently 13 of the 19 MLS franchises have soccer-specific stadiums with one more on the way and one being proposed. This has changed the all-around fan experience and made the in stadium intimacy unlike any other in American sport. Throw in supporter and member sections like the Kansas City Cauldron and you have a recipe for a lively experience at every match. The members section in Kansas City is comparable, if not better than, the bleachers at Wrigley Field or the student section at a major college football or basketball game. Brett Bates, a founding member of Sporting KC's Brookside Elite supporters club believes, "No other sports league in America has the supporters culture that MLS does and that's what sets it apart. The individuals at the top know how important the average Joe is to building a passionate fan base in the city and region." Not only is this happening in the Midwest, it is also happening in the Pacific Northwest. The Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers have formed a great rivalry very quickly and their supporters sections are incredible. The Seattle Sounders are number one in MLS merchandise sales by a large margin and their attendance is setting records.

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Does the author overstate his case? Yes. Is the trend he describes becoming more and more clear? Yes.

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Arrow 7 replies Author Time Post
Reply Not Your Older Brother's MLS: Soccer Matters America (Original post)
HuckleB Apr 2012 OP
seeviewonder Apr 2012 #1
HuckleB Apr 2012 #2
seeviewonder Apr 2012 #3
HuckleB Apr 2012 #5
JonLP24 Apr 2012 #4
hughee99 Apr 2012 #6
HuckleB Apr 2012 #7

Response to HuckleB (Original post)

Fri Apr 27, 2012, 06:22 PM

1. I will admit that I have never been a fan of soccer.

I have tried to make nyself watch it and enjoy it, but it is just not for me. Baseball and (American) football it is.

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Response to seeviewonder (Reply #1)

Fri Apr 27, 2012, 06:42 PM

2. St. Louis may be in line for a team.

If you're ever in the northwest, hit a game in Portland or Seattle. You might just see a different sport than the one you've experienced.

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Response to HuckleB (Reply #2)

Fri Apr 27, 2012, 10:26 PM

3. Fair enough...

I have a friend in Chicago who happens to be a huge Fire fan (he actually buys season tickets). I may have to visit him sometime and go to a game.

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Response to seeviewonder (Reply #3)

Fri Apr 27, 2012, 11:53 PM

5. The Fire has a good supporters group.

I still wish MLS had focused on getting stadiums into downtown areas. They lucked out in Portland, Seattle, Vancouver and Montreal, but it hurts them elsewhere.

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Response to seeviewonder (Reply #1)

Fri Apr 27, 2012, 10:36 PM

4. I used to feel (similar?) the same way

The lack of goals & a 1 goal lead seeming like such a big hole didn't make it interesting. It wasn't until I played a soccer video game that had me appreciate the strategy and the effort it took to make those goals possible. A lob through pass is an amazing play when you consider the timing and skill it takes to pull it off. I realized the real enjoyment was the play between the goal posts, strategy involved. Goals are exciting when it happens but it isn't the main draw.

However, understanding the strategy & skill involved doesn't make a sport interesting. Personally, I can't get excited for baseball unless the Rockies are involved. Having a team that you want to win makes what happens in the game interesting. Also playoff baseball is exciting but regular season games between teams I don't particular care about doesn't interest me a whole lot.

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Response to HuckleB (Original post)

Sat Apr 28, 2012, 02:37 AM

6. I've never been much of a fan of American Soccer,

although I do occasionally find myself watching some of the European matches. MLS has does a pretty good job building a fan base, something I think the other sports might take note of, especially in cities with lower attendance.

I've never sat in "The Cauldron", but I found this part difficult to believe, though.
"The members section in Kansas City is comparable, if not better than, the bleachers at Wrigley Field or the student section at a major college football or basketball game."

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Response to hughee99 (Reply #6)

Sun Apr 29, 2012, 01:45 AM

7. It may be an understatement.

I can guarantee you that no student section in college football, nor the Bleachers, nor any other section in sports compares to the Timbers Army, uh, maybe except for supporters sections in Seattle.

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