Should the MLS Start Sooner?

Should the MLS Start Sooner?

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On March 15, 2007

I saw this discussion on du Nord yesterday evening. A reader questioned Bruce about when he thought the MLS season should start. And I, like Bruce agree that the season would probably be well served starting in March, rather than April. Or possibly just shorten the season all together, but I like the argument about pushing the season to an earlier start date.

Sure the league would have to compete with NCAA’s March Madness, but honestly, that is a risk I would take and go up against if I were the league. Think about how much the interest drops off in October and early November when the league is in its most important stretch. The playoffs and MLS Cup get overlooked by college football, the NFL and baseball’s post season, the three toughest things for any sport to even dare compete with. Why do you think the NBA and the NHL start their leagues up in late October and early November? Because, they aren’t as nearly worried about viewers in those early stages as they are in the ladder stages of the year.

Getting the audience to be attentive at the end of the year when it matters most is what the MLS needs to think about. Attendance is crappy at the beginning anyways so a couple games in March would be better served than April. You can’t say you have to worry about pre-season baseball in March, the NHL and the NBA are still in their regular seasons as well. It makes sense. Your important late season games would be pushed back to when the NFL and college football wouldn’t be killing the attendance as much.

It is an interesting argument really. Its tough for some cities like your New England, New York, DC, Columbus, Kansas City, Chicago, Salt Lake and Denver to start in March. Now add Toronto to the mix. That is over half of the league who are in colder weather climates in March. There may be some that might question Kansas City or Salt Lake City, or possibly even Denver.

On the flip side, there are four teams who are in warmer weather. Houston, Dallas, and two LA teams. Four against seven isn’t a good match up but it is a doable one.

A lot of folks will try and throw out the “English teams play in February in cold weather, why can’t the MLS play in March?” Again, its interesting to ponder a March kickoff instead of an April kickoff. England isn’t typically as cold as the US in the colder weather months. And its not like there aren’t some cold games in April and sometimes even May anyways in some cities. You’ve seen the snowy games in the MLS just like I have.

If I were the MLS I would take notice going into next season. Start in mid-March so you don’t have to compete with things in October. Sure the cold weather issues are out there. But maybe, just maybe that is a risk the league needs to take.

I am open to comments on this. Should it start sooner, later, just like it is? Should it start sooner and have a break in the summer sometime (late July-ish maybe) and end when it normally does? I want to know what you all think.