Columbus, Ohio Soccer Stadium Sign Fire Reveals Sparse Crowd; But it There More to Story?

While perusing the news last night, there was a story about a fire at a Major League Soccer team stadium in Columbus, Ohio. Just bef...


While perusing the news last night, there was a story about a fire at a Major League Soccer team stadium in Columbus, Ohio.

Just before the match between the Columbus Crew and DC United clubs of the MLS, a fire broke out in the stadium's large end zone billboard sign. According to reports, the fire started just before the match was to start and only the area directly adjacent and under the sign was evacuated result in an approximately one hour delay.

Below is one of the videos capturing the event.


Of note this video reveals a stadium barely half full. Of course there could be several explanations for this.

For instance Columbus soccer fans could be like Los Angeles sport fans - make an appearance once the match has started and leave before the end. Or perhaps they could be copying California football fans in Oakland and getting tuned up on massive amounts of beer before going into the stadium where the beverages are priced sky high.

Taking it one step further, of the MLS markets Columbus might not be to bad of a comparison for Elk Grove-Sacramento. Both regions are their state's respective capital and while Columbus itself is larger than Sacramento, the Sacramento region is larger than the Columbus metropolitan club.

According to one source, the Columbus Crew drew an average 13,367 fans to their 20,145 capacity stadium through the ninth match of this season. This represents a drop of 5.28 percent from the same period last season while the total league saw a total drop of 7.61 percent for the same period. 

The numbers across the league can be best described at erratic with FC Dallas growing by 12 percent while the Los Angeles-based Chivas USA dropped 38 percent. Yet through it, total MLS grew 5 percent from 2011 to 2012.  

This is where this thumbnail analysis gets interesting. Beyond the comparisons and attendance figures noted above, Columbus has certain market advantages over Sacramento. 

Consider the following:
  • Columbus has five Fortune 500 companies, Sacramento - 0. Corporate sponsorship is a virtual necessity for all major professional leagues - just ask the Sacramento Kings. This is the Achilles heel for any major professional team in the Sacramento region.
  • Columbus has a 6.5 percent unemployment rate, Sacramento - 9.6 percent according to the BLS. Will a family of four realistically be able to afford at $200-plus night of soccer more than once every few years? While Sacramento has high unemployment, many of the non-Bay area fans Elk Grove soccer stadium proponent Fabain Nunez say will come to Elk Grove hale from places up and down the Central Valley that face chronic high unemployment. Will they be able to afford the gas let alone the cost of admission?
No doubt when Nunez appears again in Elk Grove (Or perhaps in Sacramento if Sacramento Bee's Marco Breton knows more than he his letting on in a tweet last week that the MLS Commissioner Don Garber promised a visit to Sacramento. [Twitter reg. required]), the former California Assembly Speaker will no doubt say given Sacramento's diverse population, The Beautiful Game will be a natural draw. (Coincidentally, Garber has promised to make an announcement soon of the additions of the leagues 20th team.)

Undoubtedly Sacramento wins in this field, but Columbus does have something few American city's have - a major university, Ohio State University, America's third largest university. From a sports perspective, while OSU is known more for football, with an international student body and faculty, the Crew has the opportunity to draw more visitors to what non-Americans identify at Football.

So as Elk Grove elected officials focus their efforts on building a soccer stadium in hopes of landing an MLS team, the public needs to thoroughly examine, question and vet any analysis the city and Nunez puts forth and hope that taxpayers don't end up straddled with a financial albatross around our necks.



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6 comments

Anonymous said...

I believe there is hope for us. You just need to get Walmart on board along with their contacts in China and the BIG money. See what New York did...........


http://mobile.nytimes.com/2013/04/29/sports/soccer/abu-dhabi-sheik-is-said-to-be-on-track-to-own-new-soccer-team-in-new-york.xml

Bill Graham Presents... said...

Here's how EG makes it work: In the winter, fill it with ice for an ice skating rink and have a sports bookie taking bets on how much the city will lose each year. During football season, have local football challenges between employees such as Dickey's BBQ vs. Leatherby's, with a Fast Food Super Bowl at the seasons end. In the off-season, fill it with tons of dirt and have a destruction derby between the mobile food trucks and the E-Tran buses. For concerts, we can use it for top name rising stars not already booked at other event centers or casinos, like the Back Street Boys, Neil Sedaka, and The Osmonds.

Anonymous said...

You can't be serious, this is Elk Grove...lets band all the food truck operators together and form a partnership with them.

Anonymous said...

It is my belief there is a disconnect between what is going on in the economy and what is going on in the financial planning of the city. Spending keeps on going, while revenues are not coming in. It's like Elk Grove is an island that was immune to everything that was going on in the economy.

The ins and outs of city government are complicated, even for accomplished business owners and community leaders who find themselves in the role of legislators on Elk Groves governing body. Foreseeing issues can be difficult, and the political nature of the job adds another level of consideration to both city and district-related items.

If you don't read big documents, you can't understand the impact of a decision. When you look back some of these projects might not do what you think they're going to do when you approve them. They take on a life of their own.

IMHO our city council is moving in a direction that could put every resident in harms way.....play time is over, bring us some decent paying jobs that we're in dire need of and I have heard our Mayor speak of many times and then just hops on that band wagon again for some play time. Speaks out of both sides of his mouth......

Connie Conley said...

The Elk Grove City Council needs to stick to the original plan and built the sports complex. We had one builder, Big League Dreams, who would have put up the money for it.

However, council members and staff were very rude to the owner, with another council member advocating for the second bidder, repaying a quid pro quo, who couldn’t put a dime, therefore, “had no skin in the game.”

If the city council were wise, they should take a step back, reevaluate the entire civic center project, and work with companies who actually have the capital for public/private partnerships. If done correctly, our city could conceivably have both, the sport complex and the performing arts center. “I Want It That Way!”

And to Billy G, I love the Backstreet Boys!

SteveB6509 said...

The attendance for this game was 14,090 (slightly above their average for the year). You can get better shots of the crowd here:

http://www.dcunited.com/news/2013/04/recap-dc-united-0-columbus-crew-3

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