Let me preface this by saying that I get it. RBA looks great when it’s filled to the rafters on matchday. Leeks great for television and it makes a bold and emphatic statement that the sport has truly arrived in the NYC area, something that hasn’t been seen since the days of the NY Cosmos at Giants Stadium with over 70,000 folks showing up to see the likes of Pele, Franz Beckenbauer and of course Giorgio Chinaglia…
Except it doesn’t. And truthfully, that’s okay. Allow me to explain…
Editorial: Enough with the attendance talk already!
We can all sit here in front of our collective keyboards and smartphones and claim there is a simple reason attendance is anemic at RBA and have the solution ranging from aggressive advertising to big-name superstars on the roster.
All this shows that we fans DO truly care about the team we follow, we want to share it with everyone in the Metro area, bringing their legions of families, friends, co-workers to become season ticket holders in the process, it pains us that outside of us die-hards, the mention of the team and the league they play in generates a collections of shrugs and blissful indifference toward more established leagues based in Europe. And no matter what anyone says otherwise, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
But, If I may offer a suggestion to this fanbase is this…
Stop. Just. Stop.
Stop worrying about things like attendance. Hear me out, cool kids. I’m dead serious.
Here are my two reasons…
1.) Life is too damn short to be counting empty blue seats.
2.) in the end, I’m just a fan. And it’s not my job (or yours) to worry who’s NOT here on match day. I’m here to support the team.
I can understand the reasoning why it should be a concern. Again, like many of you, I get it. The place looks and sounds fantastic when it’s filled to the rafters with fans.
This team of ours is on the path to do special things this season and the seasons to come. They play in what is arguably one of the most fantastic and family-friendly facilities to watch the beautiful game, a place where unlike other facilities, the staff goes out of their way to make us fans feel like it’s OUR home. Tickets are reasonably priced, in fact, it’s often said it’s the best deal in NYC area. Remember how we ALL felt when we couldn’t WAIT to see the first match at RBA this year?
It was like going to a house party, with all of your closest friends. Even in the bitter cold in February.
That’s how RBA is to all of us. It’s our second home away from home. It’s THAT special.
However, if no one can find the time, or quite frankly, gives a damn to make the trip, who are WE to argue?. Even during the MetroStars era, the team played in front of the nearly the SAME amount of fans, and Giants Stadium was arguably a larger venue (80,000-plus). Did anyone count the number of THOSE seats on matchday between sips of beer?
Didn’t think so.
For the record: I will NEVER chastise anyone that makes a case about attendance but look at FC Dallas, Houston, Columbus, and other teams that have stronger fan bases and less sport and entertainment options compared to NYC, but their attendance is weak on matchday.
My point being, it’s not just us. We live in an area where baseball and football are talked about 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Local soccer (world cup aside) bearly gets a mention if any. And that’s a fact. We just started hearing final score reports of both NY franchises on the radio… TWO SEASONS AGO!
The good news, as the league gets better, that anomaly will soon change. Some of you may be too young to remember this, but the NFL went through issues with attendance league-wide, so did the NBA, NHL at one point, and now, it’s MLS’ turn. They went through dark days with attendance, and look where they are now. Please bear in mind that MLS is only 22 years old. It will get better, I promise.
So, chill out with the attendance talk and enjoy this team amongst cheap and empty seats – while you can. Because soon enough, the on-field product will improve, and those empty blue seats will eventually be filled, and you’ll probably be paying much more to sit in them.
See you all on Saturday.
Photo by Bill Twomey Photography