Looking closer at MLS and MLB cities

This year’s baseball season is shaping up to have more MLS cities in contention than in past years.  The Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners are off to really good starts, and this is not good news for MLS.  Currently, both teams sit in first place of their respective divisions.  These two cities have drawn better at the gate than any other MLS teams, but will it continue if their baseball counterparts continue to position themselves for a playoff push?

In Toronto on Saturday, Soccer outdrew baseball.  According to MLS-daily.com’s attendance and YahooSports attendance figures for boxscores in baseball, Toronto FC had 19,998 and the Toronto Bluejays had 18,331.

The one city MLS need not worry about in baseball is Washington, D.C.  The Nationals are the worse team in baseball.  But on Saturday, they still outdrew arguably the proudest MLS team.  They drew 19,9950 to the United’s 14,225.  Go figure that one.

The biggest story in baseball so far has been the Los Angeles Dodgers.  They look like they might run away with the division.  If they do, ultimately, that could be better for the 2 LA soccer teams.  But, surely they will be a story to watch for Southern California sports fans this summer.  It also looks like the LA Angels will hang around to try and win the division as they have hung around pretty well for each of the last 10 years , either winning divisions or making it close. 

The Dodgers drew 47,000 Saturday, while the Galaxy drew 21,000.  Surely, the Galaxy would have done better head to head Saturday had Manny not signed that big contract, and had Beckham stuck to the plan. 

At Wrigley Field, the Cubs drew 40,000, probably to be expected, knowing the history there.  The Cubs are a decent team this year and they carry a more than 100 year relationship with sports.  Their drout makes them always the lovable loser and an interesting team when they win.  It would be better for the Fire, who drew 10,000 on Saturday, if the Cubs have a crappy season, but that’s not happening apparently.   

The Fire need to be compared head to head to the White Sox too, who also seem to be contending.  In fact, because of parity, it seems many MLS cities are competing in baseball this year, like the Astros and Rangers.  But, maybe they’ll sail out of contention as the year moves on. 

The Royals of Kansas City would definitely seem a likely candidate to sail out of contention, but it doesn’t help MLS or the Wiz that the Royals are having a decent season.  They have been bad for a long time, so when they are good, it seems an anomaly, and fans start to pay attention. 

One team who won’t fall out of contention this year is the Philadelphia Phillies, the defending champs.  They are riding a wave in which the core of the team is sticking around.  The Phillies have reestablished themselves with their fans via a new stadium and may make it rough on the newest expansion team for MLS next year. 

In Colorado, the Rockies seem to be in the decline, and it appears it will be a long season for their fans.  But, the Nuggets of the NBA are picking up the slack, pulling out John Elway of Arena Football League fame to announce their starting 5 in a crazed playoff atmosphere last night.  The hockey team had a bad year and the Broncos had an unusual year, so as the Rapids average 11,000 in attendance, is it maybe a result of too much sports for one town?  5 pro teams may be one too many. 

Colorado seems a good case for general managers from MLS to look to not schedule head to head against rival sports leagues. 

It seems it is best to hold back on any judgement on the Red Bulls as everyone awaits their new stadium, which looks appealing.  Next year will be interesting to see how they do head to head versus the Mets and Yankees.

16 Responses to Looking closer at MLS and MLB cities

  1. kyle says:

    How about MLS just isnt very popular. Whats the population of Chicago 2 million or so. Were all those people at other sporting events?

  2. eplnfl says:

    Good insight comparing the Fire to the White Sox. In Chicago the Cubs and Bears are on different levels fan wise from everyone else.

    Also one may want to look at the influence the NBA and NHL playoffs have on a MLS team. The last two home games for the Fire have been up against both Bulls and BlackHawks playoff games. Saturday’s attendance at Toyota Park was weak. It was up against a Cubs home game that afternoon, Game 7 of the Bulls-Boston series which some have called the greatest first round playoff series ever, and the Blackhawks on TV in game 2 of the conference semi-finals. Not to mention the Derby and a big fight on TV. The Fire had a friendly during the week which drew over 17,000 with Club America. Factor in a NASCAR race, swine flu concerns, and the first warm weather weekend. With all that 10,000 may seem better then you think.

    Hopefully, next week against the Revs more people will show up and the Fire can do something other then a draw.

  3. Joey Clams says:

    When it comes down to hoping that the local baseball team does lousy to boost attendance, well…

  4. Brian says:

    I’ve never really thought of John Elway in the terms of Arena Football fame, but since that was his last sporting involvement (off the playing field at that), I can see the connection.

  5. jean-guy pepper says:

    You’re waay off re: toronto. The soccer community has sold out BMO field, TFC doesn’t rely on walk ups since the tickets have all been sold in advance. Same with Seattle. Any success the Jays have won’t take away sales of TFC tickets, and it’ll be the same withthe Sounders.

  6. Joe in Indianapolis says:

    MLS is not popular. This is not news. You could put it up against anything, and 10,000 will never sound like very many people in one of the biggest cities in the world.

  7. eplnfl says:


    If your talking about Chicago, for many years the BlackHawks were getting 10,000 a game and the White Sox even with a championship can not draw like the Cubs. Pre-Michael Jordan the NBA had a cult following only, NCAA BB did much better.

  8. MLS Rumors says:

    There is very little if any evidence that a huge soccer/baseball crossover crowd exists in most of the cities mentioned.

    The problem with MLS attendance in some cities has less to do with the fact that the major league baseball team is popular among baseball fans and more to do with the fact that the major league soccer team is NOT popular among SOCCER fans.

  9. Vnice says:

    This is just an observation, but…

    MLS is a very young league, and stadiums are being build to accommodate roughly 20 thousand. However, even in the Premier league, the biggest league in the world, many of the lower rung teams draw about 20-25 thousand. In Serie A, almost none of the teams own the stadiums, and many are half full.

    It’s not like MLS is alone in its attendence woes.

  10. kyle says:

    Yeah Vince there are small stadiums in the EPL, but they at least fill most of them. Kansas City play in a minor league baseball stadium, that is pretty damn bush league.

    • Lars says:

      That’s not true at all, Wigan never sells out, most of the EPL teams don’t sell out or even come close to it. It’s only with a handful that they actually do. Haves and Have Nots

  11. White Sox says:

    Hey, man, baseball is the American pastime. It would be pretty unAmerican of Garber to want to compete with our cultural institution. I hope MLB has a kickass year this year. I know I’ll be at Comiskey many more times this season.

    Hey Mitch, why do you say that Dodgers’ success would be good for the Galaxy and goats? That made no sense.

    I truly hope the former 1992 and 1993 World Series Champion Blue Jays have a resurgence with their fan base. I wanna see Skydome full and rockin’ again.

    Good on the nuggets for having HoFer John Elway on hand. Do you think they’d ever have a member of the Rapids guest announce? HAHAHAHA!!!!!!!

    Face it, kids. This is the Almighty U S of m’f’in A. We have the world’s best sporting entertainment. There’s no room for your little, irrelevant league. I hope Selig, Goodell and Stern raise the stakes with their products, and blow you guys away even more.

    God bless America.

  12. David says:

    Mls is a mediocre league. It is a league of old

  13. Magin Argueta says:

    Hey White Sox,
    MLB = Steroids makes you proud ha! What is so great about a league that needed steroids (PED) to regain popularity. Don’t even put yourself at the same level of the NFL; they are in another level.

  14. daniel says:

    The problem isn’t that the mls isn’t popular. The problem is that major sports networks like ESPN suck. I grew up In Columbus Ohio and I have been to MLB games, NFL Games, NHL games, and MLS games. By far the MLS is the best one to go too. The MLS is like an Underground Movement. To all you Soccer Haters THE MLS IS HERE TO STAY.

    Plus if you check the numbers the MLS is growing while the other 4 sports are facing future problems. (possible NFL strike in 2011and a lost of faith in role models, lost of interest in the MLB and there steroid addiction, The NBA’s ME ME ATTITUDE, and the NHL finacial woes.)

    Watch out suckers THE MLS is starting to sneak up on you guys. Just look at FC Seattle Sounders.

  15. gregor says:

    Very helpedul for me. Thanx

    Gregor S.

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