MLS: SuperLiga Adding To the SUM

Posted on by Peter C


In my last post I prompted a discussion that centers around SUM and its relationship to MLS. If you are unaware of Soccer United Marketing(SUM), it was created at a time when the league was in danger of folding. Just 5 years after its first season in 1996, the league was looking at contraction and possibly worse. It was then that new commissioner Don Garber convinced league investors to pony up the money for the US broadcast rights to the 2002 and 2006 World Cup from the German company that had originally purchased the rights from FIFA. Here are a few background articles that do a far better job than I to get caught up with some sum history.

U.S. Soccer, a World Cup Dud, Sustains Pro League With TV Deals – Curtis Eichelberger – July 7, 2006

Tapping Into a Gold Mine – Ridge Mahoney – May 1, 2007

How Don Garber helped MLS get its game on – Tripp Mickle – March 16, 2009

Note that if you see articles with bylines of either Mickle or Mahoney, read them. Their reports on the business of soccer are usually a cut above.

And that brings us back to what started this discussion, SuperLiga 2009. Haters of this tourney can take heart from this…
In its first year, hello David Beckham, the event drew an average of over 17,300 for the first 8 matches. Last year over the same period, the event pulled in just under 15,900. This year, after match day 2, the numbers have plummeted to an average of 8,152. Additionally, as bad as it sounds, it’s actually worse. In the first two years of SuperLiga, each group match(12 total) were single game events. This year, on the matchday that pits the MLS teams against each other and the Mexican teams against each other, the groups played doubleheaders, effectively halving matchday 2 attendance potential.

To illustrate, matchday 2 attendance in 2008 was just over 66,800; this year just over 14,500. Without knowing the inside financial details of the SUM event, it could be inferred that the stadium expense for two extra venues, plus any extra travel expenses were calculated to yield the highest return and pointed to using 2 locations vs 4 . But I doubt the SUM anticipated such a precipitous drop in gate attendance. The event’s Mexican broadcasters and de facto partners FMF(Mexico’s USSF) will only be concerned with how the sponsorships, ratings and ad sales come in.

SuperLiga 2009 – Matchday 2
Group A
Game Score Pts  
Chicago 1 6 Chicago – MLSNet
Chivas USA 0 0 Chivas USA – MLSNet
San Luis 3 3 San Luis – Wikipedia
Tigres UANL 1 3 Tigres UANL – Wikipedia
Group B
New England 1 4 Revolution Soccer
Kansas City 1 2 Kansas City – Hillcrest Road
Atlas 0 2 Atlas – The Offside
Santos Laguna 0 1 Santos Laguna – Wikipedia

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