MLS Attendance Analysis: Week 1

Discussion in 'MLS: News & Analysis' started by edwardgr, Mar 12, 2012.

  1. lawrenceterp

    lawrenceterp Moderator Staff Member

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    OleGunnar's measure doesn't measure improvement or decline at all. If you take the +/- 33% every year, then the percentages of games in each category are going to be roughly the same. The standard deviation is important if you're a team owner concerned about staffing needs. It might also show some stability as fewer games become outliers or as the deviation shrinks but again, that measure is satisfying a completely different goal than what this thread is about. For the purposes of measuring growth and comparing years to one another, using a static number is a much better barometer.


  2. Revolt

    Revolt Member+

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    Did BS even exist in 1996? I remember being addicted to Soccer America Graffiti - including some epic Dan Loney & Iranian Monitor battles (or mismatches as it turned out).
  3. MLSFan123

    MLSFan123 Member+

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    see my previous post for some information.

    Big Soccer was not branded until the year 2000.

    In late 1998/early 1999 many of us early MLS followers started to migrate from the old team based mailing lists over to SoccerBoards.com, which had a relatively good early version of the bulliten board software. Eventually as the site grew, Jesse and his team rebranded SoccerBoards.com into BigSoccer.com.
  4. OleGunnar20

    OleGunnar20 Member+

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    well we will see this year if that is true or not. last season the league attendance was surprisingly bottom heavy ... 18.3% of games were <MED-33% while only 11.8% of games were MED+33%> ... that shows a bottom heavy league. that could very well improve over time ... with more games around the Median and more games in the "good" category and fewer games in the "bad" category ... at least that the hope.

    all continuing to measure the <10K/20k> as percentages shows is that the median of the league is increasing ... which ... you know .... you can tell by the fact the median is increasing ... it would be like saying well the poverty line in 1970 was $14,000 and in 2012 fewer households make less than $14,000 dollars than did in 1970 so there is less poverty today! it is just nonsense. median household incomes have increased since 1970 so it only make sense that fewer people in 2012 fall below what was a reasonable "poverty" line in 1970.

    but i am not trying or wanting to even debate this ... my measure IS valid and more accurate and i am providing it because i fully understand and accept that altering the AAQ would be too much work so i offer this as an adjunct supplement that people can either consider or not as they see fit ... there is no reason or factual basis to attack it ... if you don't think it is important just skip right over it ... nobody gets hurt by having more accurate information available to consider.


  5. evangel

    evangel Member+

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    The conversation in last week's thread was a good old fashioned attendance perception derailment, but this week's argument is fine. It's just an argument (a rather long winded one, certainly) about the importance of a statistic, which is something that should very much be in this thread, IMO.

    Ole has every right to post whatever statistics he wants here. The conclusion is left up to the person looking at the stats.
  6. edwardgr

    edwardgr Moderator Staff Member

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    Ole is presenting what he suggested I do instead of the 10k 20k numbers. I have no issue with this. I was not interested in a moving target which it seems his will be if he is adjusting for the current median rather than a fixed median point, so that is the first reason I chose not to run his numbers, the second was that when I used what was to me the most logical fixed point +/- 33% the numbers were so similar to the current 10k and 20k that it really did not matter.

    And please lets remain civil in how we address each other.
  7. crookeddy

    crookeddy Member+

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    What Ole is trying to do is define good and bad in terms of the current median - thus teams compared to the league as is. I don't think thats particularly relevant. Its' perfectly valid to have a team built to be profitable at an attendance of 12k, have an attendance of 14k, and be satisfied with it. This is a perfectly legitimate business strategy that Ole's statistic will call "bad".
  8. Yoshou

    Yoshou Moderator Staff Member

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    Eh. It's just a different way to label as "good" and "bad". 10k and 20k were fairly arbitrary when they were picked as the measuring point for bad and good, respectively. OG's measure just makes that definition set to a percentage from the median rather than a fixed point. It's as good a measure as any. The one problem I have with it is similar to the problem with setting 20k as a good number. There are a number of teams that have purposefully built their stadiums at below 20k and, assuming they play all their games in their home stadium, will never get a "good" number at the current measure. OG's percentage above/below just moves the "good" number even higher. At his current +33% there are only currently only 3.2 MLS teams that have a capacity over that number, with the .2 being San Jose's games outside of Buck Shaw and Montreal's games at Olympic Stadium.

    Long story short, any measure that doesn't call a sell-out a "good game" is missing the target, IMHO.
  9. Golazo

    Golazo Member+

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    .... and this is where I pour some of my 40-oz. onto the street in memory of AndyB, who started these threads and tracked down the data and for whom the AAQ (Andy Attendance Quotient) was originally named. Lookin' out for you, my brother.
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  10. Chris M.

    Chris M. Member+

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    I was watching the Portland game on tv and thinking about those early days of MLS. "The game was on a weeknight and a school night to boot. The weather was really bad. Rain coming down in sheets. No walk up crowd . . ."

    All of the excuses we all used to go through were certainly distant memories. Now, there was no walk up crowd because there were no tickets. People were camping out for hours -- I presume to get good seats in a GA section? Sure they are used to rain in Portland, but it would have kept people away back in the day.

    I was also looking at the stadium (very cool) and how unique it is and then I started thinking about the video I just saw of the new Houston stadium and Red Bull Arena and LSP. Classy, classy places that are all distinct.

    The bottom line is this. In the early years, the league was a novelty and if it was inconvenient or people had better things to do . . . they did. Bad weather was an excuse. Good weather was excuse (it was so nice outside people had lots of options). Now, in many cities, people need to go to the games. The old excuses are just annoyances that are worth putting up with.

    My how this league has grown. It's truly awesome.

    Now, back to that deviation standard thingy. ;):D
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  11. ceezmad

    ceezmad Member+

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    So what I hear you saying is that if weather is like today on the 24th then we here in Chicago can not come up with excuses if we do not get a sell out?
  12. Chris M.

    Chris M. Member+

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    Nope, that's not it at all.

    Chicago has mediocre attendance for a variety of reasons but those reasons aren't really related to the original state of the league. We have seen the potential in Chicago. In October of 2009, I had a similar moment of "look how far we have come" pride as I stood in my seat in the Skyway looking out over a crowd in excess of 20,000. It was more than the number. That was the Conference championship game against RSL, and if I remember correctly, they had less than a week to sell that game. No promotions. No group sales to speak of. Just 20,000+ fans who HAD to be there.

    With the exception of 1998 for the Fire, playoff attendances were often less than regular season games. That fact told me that they were doing a good job of driving sales through groups and promotions, but that there was not yet a real demand for tickets. By that night in 2009, everyone in that stadium HAD to be there. The tension and electricity in that crowd was another great sign. We have pissed that away through a number of reasons, to the point that hard core fans no longer feel the need to be there if the weather is a bit off.

    If we come together as a team like I think we might, there is no reason we can not be just like the other teams that are frequent sellouts despite all the old excuses.

    Oh, and if the weather on 3/24 is like it was today . . . . Wow! :D
  13. lawrenceterp

    lawrenceterp Moderator Staff Member

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    You can also know that the league is a bottom heavy league by looking at the averages and seeing that it's a bottom heavy league. You can eyeball any data and make basic analysis.

    I'm not saying what you're doing is bad, it's a good measure to keep. But I don't think it satisfies the goal of the thread. That's all. It's two different things. I do stats for a living and in fact do quantitative management. I take measures, study the data, try to stabilize them and then try to move the data range or shrink the variance according to the business goals. But it's important to make sure you're satisfying the goal. Your measure only does that marginally.

    <10k and over >20k are good measures because of their perception in the public. Anything with 4 figures looks bad, both on paper and on TV (witha couple exception due to some stadium situations). Anything over 20k looks good on paper and on TV (again except for a couple stadium situations). Those numbers aren't arbitrary. They have a meaning and perception to the general population.
  14. vponce75

    vponce75 BigSoccer Supporter

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    I agree with you on this. I have no problem with Ole posting what he feels is relevant as long as it doesn't derail the thread every week. Not overly optimistic.
  15. OleGunnar20

    OleGunnar20 Member+

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    now this i totally agree with. if it were up to me i would base the "good" and "bad" on %CAP. something like MED %CAP +/-33%. it would be far more fair and accurate and account for each stadium capacity. it would require a consensus on setting a capacity for NER/DCU (i'd use 22K) and it would also require keeping a second parallel set of data to hard attendance.

    going back and doing it retroactively is going to be impossible. i could do it for last season a i have all of the relevant numbers but beyond that probably not feasible.

    but i will definitely look into doing this going forward ... it is a very valid point and a good suggestion.

    edit: actually the MED %CAP +/- 33% won't work and isn't really necessary. but we would need to come up with a "good" and "bad" threshold. i would suggest <70% and 90%> but i am definitely open to discussion/suggestions on the two thresholds.
  16. Sounders78

    Sounders78 Member+

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    This.

    This is more interesting than conversations about alternative ways of looking at the data that, when all is said and done, are really irrelevant. The data shows a definite trend. Attitudes are changing. Sellouts occur in the rain (and if it was anything like here, 100 miles to the north, in the cold), in March, in MLS.

    Times have changed.
  17. ceezmad

    ceezmad Member+

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    ah the semi vs RSL; missed the PKs, thanks to my brother :mad: and found out the results while chilling inside the holding tank. :eek:

    Very good crowd that day, lets see if we can get back to 15K+ this season.
  18. Heist

    Heist Member+

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    There was still no walk-up crowd. Everyone who went to this game got their tickets ahead of time. MLS still sucks!

    :)
  19. EvilTree

    EvilTree Member+

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  20. MLSFan123

    MLSFan123 Member+

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  21. triplet1

    triplet1 BigSoccer Supporter

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    Very well said (and I hope you don't mind the emphasis I added).

    I approach this tentatively because I don't want the first thread of the year to turn into a death spiral of snarky comments, but I think the underlying issue is that expectations -- those business goals -- are changing. Garber himself has said so much of MLS' energy in his early years was focused simply on survival it's only recently that the league has really had the luxury of starting to define what it might now reasonably become.

    I don't think there is a consensus on that -- yet -- but I do think what was perfectly acceptable, even good performance at the gate five years ago won't be sufficient for what the league envisions for its future. It's important not to denigrate what has been achieved by many of the original teams to get MLS where it is, but likewise I do think the reality is that the bar is moving higher.
  22. DoctorD

    DoctorD Member+

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    This thread topic has outlasted its usefulness. I recommend it gets moved to MLS General at the minimum.

    1) The league is not going away any time soon.

    2) MLS attendance is easily in the range of the "2nd-tier" leagues, which is appropriate given the salary levels, sponsorship fees, and low ticket prices.

    3) The various owners can deliver their revenue target to the league any way they want. If current whipping boy Bob Kraft can do that getting 10 people per game, then he has every right to do so.

    4) A thread in which various posters either obliquely criticize the league for not being "1st-tier" or express their anxiety for not following a mainstream American sport is more appropriate for MLS General.
  23. Heist

    Heist Member+

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    Disagree. There is a lot of substantive talk in this thread in addition to issue #4 happening. I find it quite interesting and encouraging to read about the positive attendance numbers/stories too.
  24. OleGunnar20

    OleGunnar20 Member+

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    okay, so taking the advice proffered in this thread i have attempted to capture a better metric for "good" and "bad" games based on % Capacity (%CAP).

    i ran the numbers for 2011 so that going forward we will have some sort of baseline to see if 2012 is an improvement or not over 2011.

    a few notes:

    1. HOU, DCU and NER had their "capacity" set at 22,000 as that is the average capacity i've found for any proposed SSS related to the teams.

    2. SEA had two games at 64,000 capacity and 15 at 35,700; VAN had one game at capacity 27,000 (first untarped game at BC Place) and 16 at 21,000; SJE had one game at capacity 50,000 and 16 games at 10,525; POR had two games at capacity 20,323 and 15 games at 18,627.

    3. for the rest of the teams i went with a capacity for each game based on the best available information regarding their home stadium capacity for soccer games: LAG (27,000); TFC (21,800); NYR (25,189); PHI (18,500); SKC (18,467); RSL (20,008); COL (18,086); CHV (27,000); CHI (20,000); FCD (21,193); CLB (21,145)

    4. some listed capacities are seated and often the teams sold/had SRO attendance thus putting the %CAP over 100% for certain games. for calculating the average and median %CAP for all games these 100%+ numbers were treated as 100%.

    2011
    Games Played: 306
    Average %CAP: 81.0%
    Median %CAP: 85.7%
    Games <70%: 86 or 28.1%
    Games >90%: 139 or 45.4%

    2012
    Games Played: 8
    Average %CAP: 91.3%
    Median %CAP: 98.8%
    Games <70%: 0 or 0%
    Games >90%: 5 or 62.5%


    obviously it isn't ideal to compare 2012 to date to the full 2011 numbers but it is all i can do at the moment ... and obviously after one week we cannot get a clear picture of how 2012 compares to the endpoint of 2011 as only 8 games makes for an unstable data set. but going forward i will keep track of this and share if people like.

    starting next week i will put notes that relate to 2012 (for instance capacities for each team's stadium and/or exceptions) and of course i will put the 2011 numbers to see how we are doing compared to the endpoint of last season. and if somebody thinks that 90% and 70% are not the ideal thresholds for "good" or "bad" games in terms of %CAP then i am open to entertain discuss on that.
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  25. Bremas

    Bremas Member

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    Week 2 will be the best numbers for the foreseeable future. 4 teams ready to go heavily above 20,000. San Jose, Seattle, Montreal, and LA (LA might be the lowest). Only two teams risk falling significantly below 18,000 (Chivas and Dallas).
    Others- Phili, KC, and Salt Lake should do their standard near sellout.

    It's a perfect storm which won't happen again for at least another month or so (haven't looked beyond that).

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