MLS Commissioner Don Garber spent the weekend talking about various topic related to the league, but certainly one of the hot topics of the opening weekend was Chivas USA. Although the headlines in the offseason was the complete makeover Chivas USA underwent from top to bottom, in an effort to
save money hew closer to the structure in Guadalajara, the headline this weekend was the stadium attendance for Chivas' opening match. Officially announced as 7,121, or approximately half of what the stadium configuration's capacity is even with the tarp covering one end of the stands, reports circulating claim the actual number was less than 5,000.
So (potential) fans voted with their pocketbooks and largely stayed home. As site contributor Rachna Kapur pointed out to me privately, the opponent didn't help the draw, as few fans in the league consider the Columbus Crew to be a top-notch opponent (no offense to them).
Still, from what I've gathered heading into the season, Chivas USA have done little to no marketing, at least that I've seen. And the team doesn't have a local television deal, something that upsets fans of the team who fear they have to subscribe to MLS Live in order to watch their own club. Of course, Kevin Baxter noted last year that Chivas' local TV ratings were very low, but it still seems logical to have a TV deal in order to potentially entice more people to get into the team.
Into this situation comes Garber's comments. On Saturday, he expressed concern over ticket sales but reiterated the commitment in there being a "second team in Los Angeles."
Yesterday, Garber elaborated on his comment after heading down to Los Angeles. Nick Firchau has a full write-up over at MLSsoccer.com, and I urge you to read the entire article. Essentially, the message comes down to Garber saying the league is monitoring the situation, but they are not currently concerned. If the club can turn things around by the summer, then it will be no issue, but the league is going to provide support to help the team sell more tickets, in marketing and sponsorships. He also noted that a local TV deal needs to be secured, as it is required of all teams in the league, so hopefully that will be resolved in a matter of weeks.
Garber did publicly state the league was helping Chivas in ticket sales last October, but maybe the league needs to ramp up support efforts even more.
Regardless, I think it remains a good sign that the league is publicly supporting the team, and hopefully some of the kinks currently in place will be ironed out over the course of this season.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!