Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Italy's Serie A attendance numbers not much better then MLS's

This year's Italy's Serie A attendance numbers have fallen once again and now sit at 19,511. This is the ninth season in a row where attendance numbers have decreased and represents a huge drop from the 31,161 figure seen during the 1997-98 season.

Some of this has to do with Juventus getting dropped to the second division due to cheating (Serie B numbers are up 20.3% over last year), but the bigger issue might be the cheating itself.

When a league loses legitimacy due to match-fixing, it will lose fans. It also becomes easier for people to look at the cost of tickets, which are ever increasing, and the poor conditions of some of the stadiums, and decide to just stay home and watch it on television?

But the interesting thing is comparing that 19,511 number to the 2006 MLS average attendance number of 15,502.

Before we get into it, yes, the MLS numbers are inflated. They include all tickets distributed, not just those who passed threw the gates and they include the huge numbers from double headers featuring the likes of Real Madrid or Club America. A more realistic number of fans actually in the stands is probably closer to 10,000, but even at that number, it compares well with Italy.

The Italian soccer league has been around for generations and features players who just won the World Cup, yet they are only pulling in twice as many fans as the MLS. Serie A is still one of the top leagues in the world, but they are only doing a little better then DC United or the LA Galaxy in terms of average attendance.

My point is not to say that MLS is on the level of Serie A due to attendance numbers (because it is not), but just to point out that the MLS is not the only league that has problems with getting people to the games (if you have some ideas on how to increase these numbers, why not join the next carnival of American soccer blogs).

Who knows, maybe in five years the MLS numbers will match or surpass those of Italy and France (21,576). Wouldn't that be nice?



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