Friday, February 8, 2013

Stadiums of the MLS: Focus on Seattle

A 12 percent increase in attendance, to 43,144 per game in 2012, from 38,496 the previous season, warrants a little research into who attends those Seattle Sounders' games.  

Without conducting extensive surveys, one shortcut is to examine where the stadium is located as those living nearby are more inclined to attend an MLS game than those further away.

Specifically, with MLS teams going after younger fans, we take a look at how CenturyLink field is geographically positioned for that demographic.

The map to the right depicts household income around the stadium in Seattle, CenturyLink is located right on the cusp of households with less than $25k and those above $75k.  As indicated by the darker shades of green, the immediate vicinity has some high income neighborhoods across the east and in the southwest, with wealthy households interspersed with poor ones, throughout the middle of the map.

In one survey, approximately 25% of MLS fans are hispanic and about 70% are white, and Bleacher Report suggests that the average MLS fan just may be 43.5 years old Obama supporter who is tired of baseball, basketball and football.  In the map to the left, the Seattle stadium is situated in an older area but with pockets of younger households to the north and west - is it well-positioned to attract the largest number of MLS fans?

A 2007 Scarborough survey shows that 1/3 of MLS fans have household incomes of more than $75k and fully half are younger than 35 years old.  In other words, CenturyLink is well-located to attract the average fan, based upon the region's wealth characteristics, but is located in an older neighborhood than is atypical of MLS fans.

These survey data are old, and maybe out of date, but they shed some light on how to match stadium location to the target demographic.  For example, it would appear that Seattle Sounders would be well-placed to appeal to an older, wealthier audience, based upon these demographic maps and that may have helped to better-inform the team's advertising strategy.

How well does your MLS team match the target fan-base in your hometown?  Do you find that it does enough to build up a fan-base of loyal, avid fans or are you more likely to get the one-off fan?

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