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The Woes of Chivas

Interesting L.A. Times story this AM about the woes of Chivas USA. Incredible lede:

Chivas USA defender Lawson Vaughn says the guessing game starts during warm-ups about how low that day's attendance will be at the Home Depot Center in Carson.

"Then we come out and listen to the national anthem and we just see the crowd and no one is there," Vaughn said. "We have a chuckle, but we hope that the Legion is loud enough" to make up for the sparse crowd.

The story goes on to say that Chivas has an avg. attendance of 12,191, down 39% from last year. Former AEG Sports Prez Shawn Hunter is being introduced as the club's new as its new CEO, president and part owner today, tasked with raising attendance. Read the full story here.

By Dan Steinberg  |  September 11, 2007; 9:45 AM ET
Categories:  MLS  
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Say what you want about a large burgeoning minority population that loves soccer, but logistics is still logistics. Money is still money.

You have two teams playing in the same stadium. They don't actually play in L.A., but a suburb 13 miles south of L.A.

Keep in retrospect that this "soccer loving population" is unable to afford regular transportation over that distance (don't take your 13 mile drives to shopping malls for granted). On top of that, they can't exactly afford the tickets to said games unless sold in gigantic packages at their workplaces or community centers.

We all know what segment of the population Chivas USA is targeting, and we all know they're failing. But I don't think it's about name drawing, or quality of the game. It's more about costs and logistics.

It's not like two professional football teams playing in New Jersey. Maybe it's about time to realize two soccer teams in the exact same suburban city may not be such a great idea, no matter the nearby population center.

Posted by: James | September 11, 2007 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Move Chivas to St. Louis!

Just kidding. San Jose is a shorter trip.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | September 11, 2007 10:02 AM | Report abuse

For the most part I agree with you James. Chivas would do better in their own stadium closer to the population they want. I don't agree on the suburban city part though unless you call all of LA a suburban city which I may be able to go along with. LA can support more than one team. If both teams are to use the same stadium, Chivas needs to make drastic changes. I hate rebranding and Chivas does well on the road, but that may help distinguish them as their own team. Chivas also needs to lower prices. They have a quality product. It's too bad they go unappreciated. They're like the Clippers a couple years ago.

Posted by: sitruc | September 11, 2007 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Two teams in one city isn't working? I'm stunned!

Hopefully this will table the notion that NY deserves a second team.

Posted by: RK | September 11, 2007 10:14 AM | Report abuse

1. To Dan and Steve: when you make a link try target="_blank" or target="_new" within the href tag. That way the linked story will open into a new browser window and not lose the Soccer Insider window.

2. Agree with James. LA has no soccer teams. Suburbia LA has two. Chivas either needs to move more toward its target population in SoCal or elsewhere or market to a new audience with a new identity. What an experiment they've been. The Chivas Light was farcical and now that they've become quite good, they can't draw at all. I imagine that they'll stay in HDC and Hunter will market the team more toward a mainstream audience than the Mexican audience. He sold hockey in the desert...and not very good hockey at that. Had to happen, this. I wouldn't be surprised if they drop the Chivas bit all together.

Posted by: Results | September 11, 2007 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Poor poor LA. Good team...bad attendance. Bad team...good attendance. Perhaps Chivas should have got Beckham. Chivas USA as a brand name needs to go or like others have said, move the team closer to the target demographic.

Posted by: Go Quakes | September 11, 2007 10:30 AM | Report abuse

One thing is sure: that 12k attendance figure has little to do with the number of actual fannies in seats. The stadium looked *very* empty for the Chivas-NY game. Just appalling. Makes KC look like the Cosmos in their heyday. Well, just kidding about the Cosmos, but something nmeeds to be done about Chivas dreadful attendance.

Posted by: Ron | September 11, 2007 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Why not move Chivas to San Diego?

Posted by: Juan-John | September 11, 2007 10:34 AM | Report abuse

a little off topic, but st. louis is closer to get a team...

Posted by: plc | September 11, 2007 10:59 AM | Report abuse

1 - @results - using target="_blank" is bad usability and breaks standards compliance. it takes control away from the user which you should never do.

2 - hahaha chivas is done. if they can't drum up support when they're arguably the best team in mls how are they going to survive when things go south again?

Posted by: dashiel | September 11, 2007 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Based on its play the team certainly deserves better support from the LA fan base. The irony is when they started in MLS, Chivas USA was much more "Mexican" than it is today, and they were terrible on the field. Since Bradley came in however, the club starting operating like a real MLS club and less like CD Guadalajara's minor league team. Now they are a MLS club that just happens to have an affiliation with a major international club, hardly unique. Chivas should stop thinking of themselves as a strictly Hispanic oriented team and go after young fans of all races in SoCal. Doing so will improve the bottom line and also intensify the rivalry with the Galaxy.

Posted by: CMJ | September 11, 2007 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Collinsville is a great soccer town from the youth perspective and STL is great all around for soccer. Town deserves a team....

Posted by: mcn107 | September 11, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

And drop the Chivas moniker, please! It's hilarious how some announcers who are just reading their news scripts, e.g., NPR's morning people pronounce it like the scotch whisky! They should move to San Diego and rebrand completely. They could be the San Diego Tunnelers or Diggers or Miners or Coyotes... hee,hee,hee...

Posted by: Soy United! | September 11, 2007 11:28 AM | Report abuse

You know, the demographics of south LA County, where Carson is located, is not substantially different from Los Angeles as a city. You aren't going to get more Latinos in the C-USA orbit by moving to the Colesium.

What they would get is better public transit access which absolutely cannot be discounted. Having said that 95% of LA County families own a car.

Also the Chivas tickets are the cheapest in MLS, so I don't know where you can go from there.

I don't have solutions to the problems, but the presented solutions (move within LA and drop prices) aren't necessarily going to get what you want.

I DO NOT think that LA CANNOT support two teams in a 27K stadium. It can. C-USA's attendance dropped 40% this year, which means that before this year there were enough fans to go around.

The big difference, in my mind, is that the Galaxy got Beckham, announcing that it was serious about bringing quality soccer to LA (but forgetting that it had Lalas for a GM) while Chivas got ... Amado Guevara, who they then cut. Lots of people who would attend a Chivas game, now have Galaxy season tickets, which are the most expensive in the league. This leaves no $$ left over for the occassional Chivas game.

The Galaxy raised the stakes and Chivas didn't respond. Now the question is, how do they move out of the shadow of their stadium-mates and bring people in to see what is the best team in LA.

Posted by: Nathanhj | September 11, 2007 1:26 PM | Report abuse

It's just not a sports market. They like trendy and cool things which is why the Lakers and Galaxy are popular while the Clippers and Chivas USA are side notes in the sports section.

As much as I hate to admit, NFL made the right decision by leaving the faux sports market, and the only way Chivas can succeed has nothing to do with the success on the field or filling the seats it has everything to do with who is in the seats.

Get all the local latino celebrities and some white/black celebs and things will change or have the team featured in some corny reality sitcom. Those are the ways to succeed in the LA market, quality of the game and ticket price has nothing to do with it. If people think they could have a one in a million chance of spotting Brittany Spears at a Chivas US game they would pay $100+ per ticket and sell out every game but a bunch of Mexicans from East LA are going to have quite the opposite effect.

Remember this is the place where they think trucker hats are cool.

Posted by: LA to DC transplant | September 11, 2007 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Mexicans. Mexican-owned soccer team. Southern California.

What's the problem? Simply put, the front office. Starting with Cue (who's really a nice guy in person), all the way down to customer service reps. Absolutely Clueless. There's still a billboard of Amado Guevara in the front of the stadium!

Sorry to say, but the FO is clueless.

Posted by: LAGoatsfan | September 11, 2007 4:40 PM | Report abuse

the calls for Chivas to lower tix prices are coming from a place of ignorance IMO. They are already SUPER cheap.

They simply need to move to a more public transit friendly area. Their fans are still largely Mexican & Mexican-American. A LOT of those folks don't have cars and LA has the absolute WORST public transportation system on earth.

There are vast tracts of Land in North Hollywood by the Red Line/Orange Line station that would allow easy access and still be in an area near a Latino fan base. They need to build a stadium there. Their team is clearly superior. Plus people in the Valley don't like people in the Basin/South Bay so it is an even more natural rivalry.

I do agree about NY though. The fact that they are considered for a second club is absolutely laughable. That shouldn't happen until 2020 at the EARLIEST if it must happen.

Posted by: papa bear | September 11, 2007 7:58 PM | Report abuse

Has nothing to do with two clubs in the market.

Go back and read the articles written when Chivas USA launched. The rhetoric out of the Chivas executives was incredibly anti-American. It showed the incredible hubris and racism of MLS and SUM executives to assume that all latinos will vote for Chivas USA.

The fact is most latinos in Los Angeles are proud Americans, and hence have rejected Chivas USA. That's why Galaxy has 10x the latino fan base. That's why Chivas USA will continue to have the same 6,000 fans (tickets used) staring at 21,000 empty seats.

Posted by: Juan | September 25, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse

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