Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Pan-Pacific Championship panned

The reviews of the first ever Pan-Pacific Championship are in and we've got a flop on our hands. Even with David Beckham and hometown hero Brian Ching on the pitch, the combined attendance for the two double-headers was a mere 38,215. On top of that, the field turf was horrible.

So what to make of this tournament? There was no feeling of pressure to win like in SuperLiga matches, so it looked and felt like the pre-season it is. Perhaps the biggest thing to come out of it was the realization by many in the US that the J-League in general and Gamba specifically is a quality outfit, but I doubt that is the direction MLS's marketing arm SUM wanted the attention to flow.

But all is not lost. Perhaps the PPC could live on just not in Hawaii. A rotational system between nations involved would probably increase attendance and make it easier to find a quality stadium.

Or maybe it should shift into a MLS vs. J-League competition. This would make sense to me as both are in pre-season and both have a league winner (Supporters' Shield/J-League Champs) and Cup Winner (MLS/Emperor's Cup) so it would be easy to select four sides?

A final idea would be to move it to the middle of the season like SuperLiga, although I don't know if the J-League schedule would easily allow for such a thing.

In the end, I enjoyed watching the games because they let me see what LA & Houston are experimenting with ahead of the season and they gave me a chance to see two foreign teams in action that I normally only read about. However, as much as I enjoyed it, if MLS really wants this to be taken seriously, major changes need to happen.

One last thing, I wonder if this lack of an audience for a Beckham event is the sign of a struggle ahead or just a momentary glitch?

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