Patience and better execution. Those were the two resounding comments that MLS Commissioner Don Garber stated when asked over the weekend during his four-city tour about Chivas USA.
Garber addressed the topic more in depth on Sunday in Los Angeles, telling the local media there that the league has begun to intervene to help the club improve its brand awareness in Southern California.
“What I would encourage everyone to have is a bit of patience,” Garber said at halftime of the LA Galaxy’s 4-0 win over the Chicago Fire. “They have an idea, they have a plan. We’re hopeful that plan will be successfully executed. I think they need to do better in the execution.
“They need to put some real good resources on the administrative side, and get really focused,” he added. “The league has been working with them – one of our club services guys has been working with them to try and help them on the ticketing side, and help them understand some of the best practices going on with our other clubs.”
The announced crowd of 7,121 was the smallest crowd for a home opener in MLS history*. Ouch. The TV look didn’t help matters out as it has been reported that a good portion of that 7000+ were free tickets.
Source: Chivas USA actual crowd Sat around 4900: 2700+ sold, 2100+ free tickets. (Announced crowd: 7121.)
— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) March 4, 2013
Garber said MLS believed in a second team in Los Angeles though he acknowledged the concept of a Mexican team “hasn’t turned out quite the way that we had hoped.”
The lack of a local TV deal for the club is also a concern.
But Garber preached patience with the media on Sunday.
“Let’s give them some time,” Garber said. “If we’re here in June or July and we’re having the same issues that we’re talking about right now, this might be a different conversation.”
I look at that and ask, why aren’t we haven’t a difference conversation already?
*(The previous low: 7,143 for Chicago’s opener against New England in 2003. Only 5,000 seats were available at Cardinal Stadium for the Fire’s first game in Naperville, so many of the 7,143 fans had to stand.)