Tag Archives: minor league

Improve the product, not the venue

The boisterous Timbers Army.

The boisterous Timbers Army.

Uh oh. The Beer Garden has pissed off the Timbers Army! Let me reiterate my point: I don’t care if it’s my money that goes into renovating PGE Park and building a new stadium in the Lents neighborhood or not. I just don’t think it’s a good idea, and that’s nothing against the sport of soccer per se, even though I’m certainly among the majority of Americans in my total ambivalance to the sport. Yeah, the world loves it. The world also loves cricket, and team handball. Should I feel guilty for being excited about the start of the NFL season?

Thousands of Portlanders care about soccer. That’s true. However I don’t believe that 20,000 people will turn out every time the MLS team plays, and that’s what they’d need. Even the Blazers don’t always manage a sellout, and they’re an NBA franchise. The Beavers have drawn poorly, with the Timbers doing even worse in home attendance. Portland State can barely get 8,000 fans at football games, even though the school has 25,000 students.

Maybe it’s the venue, and if so, then maybe this plan makes sense. But maybe it’s the product. And if that’s the case, you could play your games at Qwest Field and it wouldn’t make a bit of difference. Improve the product. Then think about getting fans through the doors. Nobody wants to watch minor league sports, which is exactly what MLS is.
Update: Reader Allison Andrews burns me with some sweet attendance info. Check it out.

“Beavers average attendance: 5,607 this year, which is 9th out of 16 teams in the Pacific Coast League.  They averaged 5,478 last year.

Timbers average attendance: 8,249 this year, which is a 21% increase over last year (6,828), which was a 22% increase over the year before.  They are 2nd in the league out of 11 teams this year.”

Thanks, Allison! Great info, something I obviously didn’t take the time to collect. Perhaps this proves my point even better, however. The Timbers are indeed drawing well compared to the other teams in their league, but they are not drawing well enough to support an MLS team, at least in my opinion. The US Open Cup was recently played in front of less than 8,300 people. The sport is not healthy. That’s my main argument for not acquiring an MLS team. Heck, a team might draw well in Portland. Really well. But I don’t have much faith in the health of the league overall. EuroCup sure was fun, though.