My analysis of D.C. United’s subpar attendance this season prompted a bulk of reaction in the blog’s comments section and via e-mail.
Here are four divergent thoughts from readers that contacted me directly:
1. “RFK is one of the major problems. A new stadium deal reached and implemented, I believe, will be a major, positive catalyst, provided the team keeps up its stellar performance. The two together will turn the tide upwards in the seasons to come.”
Absolutely. Game-day experience is a big part of attracting casual fans. You think most people at the 87th of 162 baseball games are there strictly for the baseball? No, they’re there for the full experience.
2. “When a team with good attendance begins to struggle, attendance doesn’t fall immediately. It happens gradually with a slow fade. Likewise when a team with poor attendance begins to win, attendance picks up over time. It’ll take awhile to realize DCU is good again.”
Great point. DCU needs sustained success to rebuild the fan base.
3. “As much as I follow the team, and seldom miss a game on TV, I haven’t attended a home game in seven or eight years. The reason: fans. The core of United’s following is a dedicated group of fans who express their support by making life impossible for those of us who simply want to watch a good game of soccer. They beat drums, they sing, they sway, they set off smoke bombs, they use whistles and other noisemakers, and they wear tall hats and wave huge banners which make it difficult for those behind them to see the game. In the early days, it was possible to escape this mayhem to an empty part of the stadium. But then management decided to close those sections of RFK in order to pack everyone into a single area for the purpose of a better background for TV audiences. I don’t begrudge the fans their fun nor the fact that they’re more interested in their own antics than in the action on the field. They are the core of United’s following, and the team needs them. But management should take into consideration the rest of us. They should give us the opportunity to sit in an area of the stadium where we can watch a game without our space being violated and our eardrums being shattered. I don’t know how many people are being kept away from RFK by this problem, but I suspect — from the fact that so many of my friends who are also soccer fanatics and refuse to come to games for the same reason — that the number may be significant.”
I am a little confused by this. Isn’t the so-called “quiet side” behind the benches available?
4. “You also might want to try correlating the drop in attendance with the numbers of immigrant workers who have gone home since the economic slump.”
My first reaction to this was disgust — it’s an anti-immigrant rant. But upon further thought, maybe the writer was simply saying that difficult economic times have diminished the ability of people with deep soccer roots to purchase tickets. Whether many of those potential ticket buyers have left the country is a topic for someone with greater insight into the economy and immigration to explore.
Thoughts on these four opinions?