Let’s Have an Honest Conversation About Soccer

Lots of soccer in the news today. Kitsap gets a professional soccer team in the USL, former home of the Seattle Sounders. The Seattle Sounders FC, now in MLS, announced their first coach. And I want to know: who cares?

I don’t mean that in a mean way; I’m legitimately interested if we believe that soccer is a) going to be an entertainment draw into our region and b) whether it will replace the loss of the Sonics (the terrible at basketball Oklahoma City Thunder, I mean). Yesterday on KJR AM, the discussion was about whether people wanted our city’s only sports talk radio station (until spring) to cover the Sounders more, and there was considerable votes for “no.” Of course, who knows if that’s a representative sample and whether – once the team starts winning – they’ll change their tune…we are hungry for a winner in this town.

Do soccer fans travel? Is MLS going to get an increasing national profile that brings folks to town for Sounders games? Comment away, faithful economic development prognosticators…

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4 Responses to Let’s Have an Honest Conversation About Soccer

  1. goalseattle says:

    The economic impact of Sounders FC is yet to be determined. However, 27,000 fans at Qwest Field per match over 18 home games is like adding 18 Mariners games for downtown restaurants, bars and hotels.

    So whatever an M’s crowd of 27,000 brings in, add 18 more to the neighborhood. Sales of Sounders FC gear is brisk right now, boosting the Qwest Field store where Seahawks gear sales are sagging during a down season.

    Check out http://www.GOALSeattle.com

  2. Carlos says:

    Well, so far, people care enough to pay the Sounders hundreds of dollars each for 18,100 season tickets.

    Soccer fans do travel, how much depends on the team, rivalries, and various other factors. If the Sounders succeed in building the kind of team that they want to build, then we’re going to be a big game in everybody’s calendar.

  3. Jeff says:

    I care! Yes, soccer fans travel to away games. Soccer fans spend money downtown. Sounders FC already have over 18,000 season tickets sold and are the envy of the MLS. With a world-class, locally-grown keeper, a world-class player, a 2-time MLS Cup winning coach, and other rising stars already signed to the team, the Sounders FC will be the only winning professional sports team in Seattle in the near future, and the best value for your sporting dollar. The Seahawks should be back in a year or two. The Mariners will be back next decade. The WNBA will be gone. The NBA is already gone.

    Thanks for the info about KJR. I don’t listen because they don’t cover soccer, so I’m not surprised that their listeners would rather not have increased soccer coverage. Let them wallow in the hot stove leage and lament another Mariners losing team instead of talking about THE HOT TICKET in town.

    Go Sounders FC!

  4. ericschinfeld says:

    Thanks for the great comments, all. I know from personal experience how passionate soccer fans are about their sport, so no surprise to see your responses. I particularly appreciate the insight into the numbers: 27,000 fans for 18 home games.

    To compare to the Sonics (based on the idea that we’ve lost an economic/tourism generator) who drew approximately 15,000 fans per game (in a down, emotionally crushing year to be sure) for 41 home games, those 486,000 Sounders tickets replace more than 32 sonics games!

    One of the interesting arguments that went on during the Sonics trial was whether or not they had an economic impact, and one of the claims against was that these were the same people who were just choosing between the Sonics or the Seahawks or Mariners…that, if you remove the Sonics, the city will sell the same number of sports tickets just in a different distribution. Or they’d spend that same entertainment dollar on movies or bowling or laser tag (is there still laser tag anywhere?).

    Where the real economic impact comes is the new people who come from outside the region to spend money here (ideally even staying overnight in a hotel). If the Sounders can do that, it will really generate some great tourism and economic impact here. Looking forward to finding out!

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