Columbus Inflating Gate Numbers

Columbus Inflating Gate Numbers

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On July 17, 2008
  • 2 Comments
  • Attendance Figures

You look at the headline and say, “big deal, every club in Major League Soccer and even other leagues in the US inflate their gate numbers to a degree.” Well, the difference between the rest of the clubs and the Crew is that Columbus got called out on it in a report today in The Columbus Dispatch by Shawn Mitchell.

“…But the fan base has exhibited some disturbing apathy, as well. Only 5,082 fans paid for a ticket to see the Crew play Chivas USA in foul weather April 12. According to the stub count, or the number of tickets that were scanned at the gates, only 4,473 showed up.

The announced attendance, based on the longtime Major League Soccer practice of using the total number of paid and unpaid tickets distributed, was 6,733. The inflated total was a record low for an MLS game in Columbus.

Officially, the Crew has averaged 12,881 fans while going 5-2-1 at home. That number, which ranks 13th of 14 teams in MLS, is 262 more than in 2007, when Columbus was 3-1-4 after eight home games.

In reality, an average of 9,638 people have had tickets scanned this season.”

“Longtime Major League Soccer practice” for attendance figures. To me it sounds like other clubs are easily involved in this inflation as well in gate numbers. As mentioned before, the Crew just got called out while others are left to be speculated about.

I know here in Dallas there is always a running joke that you take whatever is the actual number in the stands (say 5000) and double it to get a decent looking number. We all know that the numbers at Pizza Hut Park for Beckham-less games are typically not nearly as good as they are reported, especially this season.

“MLS follows the industry standard,” MLS president Mark Abbott wrote in an e-mail to The Dispatch.

That standard varies by sport and in some cases individual teams, but no major professional leagues use turnstile counts, which they all keep confidential. The Blue Jackets use the NHL standard of total tickets distributed.

The Crew has stayed true to its practice of including all tickets distributed — nothing more, nothing less — in its announced attendance this season.

Its not like the Crew are demanding everything in your wallet to attend a game. I believe they are actually one of the cheaper tickets in the league right now (which is another story I plan on going into soon). And they seem to give away a load of freebies too to make up for lack of crowds.

Some of the game numbers reported by Mitchell aren’t that shocking. The main story is they inflated the numbers on games in early April to sound a bit better than they actually were. I know based on this chart they did it to other games but it seems like the main issue is those early season games.

Either way its not cool to actually hear that a club is doing this to their gate numbers. But don’t be fooled into thinking the Crew are the only ones in the league doing so. Gate numbers are fickle right now due to various reasons. Even good teams draw crappy numbers (see Chivas USA and New England).

Mitchell did a good job spelling this whole situation out to us all though too but I imagine some will spin it in directions that make it seem worse than it actually is. He shed light on a subject that probably did need some light on it.

Honestly, I figured before long someone around the league’s press circles would talk about this and dig into this subject more than just joking about it in the press box.

What do you all make of these developments? Shocked? Upset? Or not surprised at all? Let’s hear what you have to say about this manner.

  • Kaiser

    Why don't they draw fans? That is a fun team to watch with Schellotto, Rogers, Moreno, and Hjeduk. One of the more entertaining side in the league.

  • Kaiser

    Why don’t they draw fans? That is a fun team to watch with Schellotto, Rogers, Moreno, and Hjeduk. One of the more entertaining side in the league.