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MLS Inflates Attendance Totals

This will come as a surprise to no one: MLS is inflating the number of fans who attend matches. Mark Ziegler of the San Diego Union-Tribune wades through MLS documents that show that not only are game attendances inflated, but roughly one in four tickets for regular season matches are given away. The average paid attendance in 2005 was 10,746 per match, 29 percent of the "official attendance" reported by the league. By the way, those numbers include seven doubleheaders involving international friendlies that produced an average crowd of 48,589. Take away those numbers and the league average falls below 10,000. So, while MLS constructs stadiums and adds sponsors and TV distribution rights, Ziegler says its core product, the number of fans buying tickets to attend games, is falling. Said MLS President Mark Abbot: "No league, including ours, is satisfied with the number of people who see (games), and we're going to work to increase that number. But it's only one small part of the measurement of the league." Only the LA Galaxy has shown strong attendance, attracting nearly 20,000 per game in 2005. The list dips considerably from there: Real Salt Lake had the next-highest average with 12,689. FC Dallas was last with 6,477. So MLS inflates its numberswhat are you going to do? A lot of leagues inflate their attendance numbers, but it's clear that MLS' needs to turn its focus for next year on getting more people in those seats. New stadiums and TV deals are nice, but the core product resides in those stadiums, and that needs to be addressed.

Read the whole story at San Diego Union-Tribune »

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