MLS Cup to be played at neutral site

Don Garber

MLS announced yesterday that the 2010 MLS Cup will be played at a neutral venue. League officials had apparently toyed with the idea of moving the championship match to the higher seed's home stadium but nixed that possibility with yesterday's announcement. No word as of yet in regards to where the match will be played.

"Following a detailed review and careful analysis of both options, we have elected to continue with a neutral-site format for MLS Cup 2010," MLS Commissioner Don Garber said. "We believe this format will provide an exciting environment for our fans while also allowing the necessary planning time for our key constituents. We will continue to assess the possibility of playing MLS Cup at the home stadium of the higher seeded team in the future."

I felt compelled to post this news because of how much I hate this move. Hate. It. I'm starting to think the people who run this league are idiots. Apart from allowing teams/media to make travel arrangements in advance, I see no positives to playing the game at a neutral site. It makes it hard (and costly) for fans to get there. As a result atmosphere suffers. The coveted "casual fan" (whatever that means...) watching on TV sees the bad atmosphere and their perception of the league is affected negatively. This is not rocket science. Play the cup in the home stadium of the higher side. It's better for everyone.

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  • Reports coming out De los Cobos to be named Fire coach. Can you confirm?

  • In reply to Adam25:

    I have been told by a source inside the Fire that no one has been hired yet. However, I would think that De los Cobos will be the man that gets the nod. I'll have more on the whole situation tomorrow.

  • In reply to Adam25:

    Sam your argument about atmosphere holds little water. This year''s final had a terrific atmosphere, the year before was excellent as well. Neutral site is desirable as a fan. You know where you are trying to go and you can have all your travel arrangements ready to go the second the whistle blows on the conference finals. Plus with a neutral site if you just want to go watch the final, no matter who is in it, you can plan to go at the start of the year. No need to worry about where its going to be.

    Calling the people who run MLS 'idiots' because of this decision might be stretching it just a bit.

  • In reply to merwin:

    I would not call them idiots...but for USA SOCCER SAKE this people have no idea of what they are in to...

  • In reply to Adam25:

    sam is entitled to his opinion. regardless of this decision, idiots is a good description for the people running this league.

  • In reply to Adam25:

    Having the final at the highest seeds field sounds kinda dumb to me... a neutral site is the fairest way to do it. people are getting too worried about numbers and impressing "non soccer viewers", we need to worry more about the game. Not to mention, how bad would it suck if the Fire made it to the final and had to play against the other team, at their home stadium.

  • In reply to Adam25:

    Tell you what, college kid....when they announce the site for MLS Cup 2010, go ahead and price plane tickets to that city. They have all sorts of Web sites now that let you check out what it would cost to fly there.

    Then wait until both finalists are known and try again to price plane tickets to that city. And let me know if it's MORE expensive or LESS expensive.

    I realize life in the college cocoon is nice and all, but out here in the real world, things work a little differently. And it's ridiculous of you to say that it's harder to know where to go months in advance than a week in advance.

  • In reply to cleverusername:

    I wasn't saying that it's harder to know where to go months in advance than weeks in advance. What I was trying to imply was that a neutral site is harder for 1/2 of the fans to get in comparison to the game being played at the home stadium of the higher seed. I completely understand that plane tickets would be far cheaper to buy months in advance than a week. I was operating under the assumption that a group of say, Fire fans wouldn't buy their plane tickets to a neutral site MLS cup more than a week before the conference finals -- and thus the plane tickets would be expensive. It's pretty obvious that I was wrong though.

  • In reply to SamuelStejskal:

    sam you're not wrong. most fans are not purchasing plane tickets until they know their team has advanced. you don't buy plane tickets months in advance on a whim. unlike hotels there is a penalty for canceling a plane ticket. the neutral fans at neutral sites are the locals.

  • In reply to SamuelStejskal:

    I agree with you Sam but I don't think it's as cut-and-dried as you present it.

    By sticking with the neutral site, MLS is prioritizing their sponsors and potential investors over the fans of the participating teams. Obviously, there is value to scheduling an event for those folks that can be planned around. But IMO, that's what the all-star game is for.

    IMO both Conference Finals this year were GREAT events. Better events for the fan in attendance and on tv than the final. And a home field final could have been phenomenal. And there would have been 10x as many fans who really, really cared about the game.

  • In reply to SamuelStejskal:

    Sam's resolution to be more opinionated this year? Check.

    I think we should just compare the Super Bowl (neutral championship location) to the World Series (tremendous home field advantage). One sport caters to the corporate interests, has an over-commercialized, but highly sanitized championship game, and has THE sporting event of the year... but half the people that watch the Super Bowl are more interested in the commercials than the game. That's success as the NFL has defined it, but I think true NFL fans are disappointed by the experience. Now, look at baseball. It's not as commercialized, it's not as widely watched, and the TV market of the participating teams is a huge factor in the ratings, but the games are full of drama, and the crowd plays a massive part in the games and the atmosphere. There's a clear favorite and a clear under-dog. I think the World Series is more compelling... but the NFL makes more money on the Super Bowl.

  • In reply to SamuelStejskal:

    The only way I would watch a final in the MLS is if it was in Chicago and the Fire were playing in it. Im not going to spend roughly $250 on round trip air fare to watch 2 MLS sides play a game. That is crazy.

  • In reply to SamuelStejskal:

    Just another thought, Sam. While I agree with most of your points, keep in mind that the league is still trying to sell itself and as long as clubs are building new state-of-the art soccer-specific stadiums, it seems to me that they are going to want to continue to host the league championships in those new venues as they have done in recent years to help promote and stimulate fan interest in the new clubs. Once the expansion has stopped and new stadiums are not being built, then we might see a change in the selection of the championship site but probably not before, IMO.

  • In reply to Toby:

    Valid points Toby.

  • In reply to Toby:

    I think that its fairer when its at a neutral site. By the way, why hasn't TP ever hosted a final?

  • Atmosphere at a venue is what the fans make of it. Neither of the 2009 finalists are located close to Seattle, yet the atmosphere was excellent and that was thanks to enthusiastic Sounders fans. This is only one example. The atmosphere at all three MLS finals in which the Fire participated was outstanding. Contrast that with the 2003 US Open Cup final, hosted by NY at Giants Stadium in front of 5183 fans. Having a finalist host the match is no guarantee of an electric atmosphere.

    Staging the final at the home of one of the competing teams only solves half of the fans' travel problems. The fans of the visiting team still have to travel.

    And you overestimate the impact that atmosphere has on the casual fan who watches the match on TV. MLS TV ratings stink, right? So how much of a negative image do casual fans get if the TV audience (casual plus hard-core fans) is miniscule to begin with? There's nobody watching anyway!

    I'm not necessarily making the argument in favor of a pre-determined site. I think that there are pros and cons for both options and it's not the horrible decision that you are making it out to be.

  • In reply to ggorecki:

    What is wrong with ya all people..? Why a two leg final is not feasible in MLS...This is ridiculous and dumb...

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