Commentary / Union

Looking down on empty seats

Photo: Paul Rudderow

What a great win it was for Philadelphia Union this past Saturday at Talen Energy Stadium.

Controlled possession throughout, a lovely finish from Cory Burke, a proper penalty from Jamairo Monteiro, and the first home win against Montreal since 2014. The squad was repping brand new kits, the sun eventually crept out of the clouds, and a 3-0 result made for a pitch-perfect Easter weekend for Union supporters.

Yet, as I stood up in the beer garden and watched the match from above, I couldn’t help but notice something. It was a lovely spring Saturday afternoon and the home team was playing good soccer and there weren’t nearly enough people watching. When the ball went out of play or during the injury timeouts, I glanced around the park and the empty seats seemed out of place — and there were lot of empty seats.

The first question is: Why? Why aren’t people coming to the stadium?

The “Chester” argument has grown old to me because it is truly not that difficult to get to. If the Sixers were hosting a home playoff game on the river this week, that arena would still be sold out. The Eagles and the Phillies aren’t popular because their stadiums are easier to get to. No, soccer will never be as polarized as those sports in this country, but Talen Energy Stadium also isn’t nearly as big. 18,000 seats should not be tough to fill in a soccer-loving market of this size.

Is a holiday weekend actually bad for attendance? Did thousands pass on coming to the match because Marco Fabian wasn’t playing on Saturday? Was it not warm enough? Eh.

And “eh” is being generous here. To me, the strongest argument for not visiting Talen to watch the Union play is “The Union aren’t good and they aren’t worth it.” Right now, that argument is far from valid. Philly is third in the Eastern Conference and have won four of five. A formation change seems to be working and, if anything, things are more exciting right now than they have been in a while. We’re running out of options here.

Ticket prices are obviously subjective, but the club is running a “buy one, get one” special for the month of May. You can attend two matches for as little as $27. Again, $27 is valued differently for different people, but compared to other major sporting events in Philly, that is a pretty low number. It is also clear the club is trying to draw fans to the stadium with promotions like that. Is that positive or negative? Depends on how you look at it.

Even more important than the discussion of why the seats are empty, though, is how that looks from the outside. When I wrote this column in February about the Union getting robbed of national TV coverage, the “empty seats” idea was just that — an idea. On Saturday, it was real. Despite the home squad dominating and scoring three goals, I just couldn’t help but think about how that crowd would have looked on television.

“Not great” is my answer, and I imagine it would be the same for Major League Soccer. ESPN and Fox Sports probably wouldn’t want to put it on display, either. Empty seats aren’t good for anyone, and unfortunately for the Union, time to fix the problem is running out. MLS announced its plan to expand to 30 teams last week and mixed feelings about what that means for the league aside, it is not good news for clubs at the bottom of MLS attendance charts. Atlanta United, again leading the league in attendance, may have been an anomaly because of the city’s size, but each new team that comes into MLS means an amped new fanbase. It will now be six new fanbases that will put up with losing for a couple seasons because they’re just happy to be there.

Remember, from the perspective of the league, filling the seats is more important than winning. Filled seats makes the league look better and expedites growth. Filled seats equal money. In the era of “New MLS,” a club that has been in the league for 10 years is only valuable if it makes the league look good. Broadcasters don’t care about anniversaries or passionate season-ticket holders. Broadcasting Saturday’s win over Montreal nationally would have been a bad look in just about every market in the country. Maybe that isn’t fair and maybe that’s no one’s fault, but it’s a reality.

MLS is growing rapidly and the Union are on the verge of being left behind. If someone doesn’t figure out a way to fill the seats, one nationally broadcast match per season will become the norm. A season-ticket holder standing next to me on Saturday said, “Look at all these empty seats…I just don’t understand.” Undoubtedly, he is not the only one that doesn’t get it.

The problem is, Don Garber and MLS aren’t going to sit around and wait while Philly figures it out.

Editor’s note: In response to this column, a Union spokesman contacted PSP to indicate that announced attendance for games is up 1% from the same point in 2018, while confirmed arrivals at games are up 6%.

68 Comments

  1. $20 parking

    • There’s parking for $10 that’s just as close of a walk.

    • I went to the Phillies game last night. Parking was $18. It’s been a while since I’ve gone to a Flyers game, but I’m fairly certain I paid more for parking there.
      .
      So, I don’t buy this one.

      • If you go to a game park in the grass lot on Edwards St between Mary St and W 3rd St. It’s $10. I do it every match. There’s also a church that I think you can get to from W 2nd st or Edwards that’s also $10.

  2. Because it takes more than five games to change a 10 year narrative.
    .
    Keep winning and…
    .
    https://www.bizjournals.com/philadelphia/news/2019/03/01/sixers-shoot-to-the-top-of-nba-attendance-rankings.html

    • ^^^This right here. I’ve been a Union fan since Home Game #1. And even I have been reticent to climb on the bandwagon so far. The team has just let us down too many times over too many years.

      To be blunt, we are a sophisticated soccer audience, and we know sh*t when we see it. And up until this point, the Philadelphia Union have been sh*t. That is the simple bottom line.

      Now, for the first time in a long time, it looks like we have a squad that isn’t sh*t. But the last time that happened, a few years ago, our linchpin player suddenly got homesick and repatriated himself to France. He was never adequately replaced, the team tanked hard, and our hopes were cruelly dashed. So.

      We are sports fans, and we are the ones still reading this blog, so hope springs eternal. And I was at the last match with my sons, and it was glorious. But it is still tough for me to be more than cautiously optimistic.

      If the Union keep showing something, they’ll get us hard-core fans more excited. And then we, in turn, will excite the casual fans. And then there will be butts in the seats. But it’s gonna take some more time.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Beautifully reasoned.

      • absolutely 100% accurate. As a former STH since before we had game one. I grew frustrated after 2016 (7 years). It was sad when my 3 boys (who play soccer and love the sport) didn’t want to go as it was bad soccer, bad experience and just not fun. Winning is fun but that wasn’t the deal. It was the disappointment of feeling like the Club was on a different mission leaving us feeling like we supported them but the FO didn’t support us and worse, was dishonest or at least not able to be trusted.

        Additionally, being there from game one the thing we absolutely loved was the post game fun that the kids were able to have with the players. For 2 years my boys DIED to get to the tunnel to meet and greet players, get signatures and meet their heros. These young boys grow up to be die-hard fans. To my point above, the FO blocked that from happening. They did have 2 players on the sidelines post-game which was good (Don’t get me wrong) but if they want to rebuild that, get the heros and the kids together after EVERY game. No parent is going to want to miss a game if their kids are dying to go to watch the team they get to hang out with post-match. The sophisticated soccer market we have will come back but they’ll STAY if the club can keep it’s honesty, integrity, support the team on the pitch AND make a noticable outreach to the fans. It worked in 2009. it’ll work in 2019.

      • These 2 answers took my position exactly. You can’t expect a 2 month stretch to overturn 10 years of mediocre at best.

      • Absolutely.. in the first few years we stayed a half hour to see Le Toux and our other favorites… now.. I bolt to beat traffic…

      • Yup, just yup. Well said; from charter member SOB; charter member STH.

  3. No playoff wins. We’ve seen good play during the regular before, but nothing has come from it in the end.

  4. I think there are a lot of formerly “loyal fans” who just got jaded with years and years of frustration. We’ve seen the team have a good run of form in the past, only the ultimately let us down. So for many (myself included), I think it’s a “wait and see” mentality. It’s too small of a sampling of games to decide they’ve finally gotten it right.

    I was an original season ticket holder (was one for 7 years). Rarely missed a game the first four years, but eventually got beat down by poor performances and head scratching front office personnel decisions. My loyalty during those years was rewarded by continually raising ticket prices (one year someone decided that Section 105 was “undervalued”, raising the price over 2 years at a much higher rate than the rest of the stadium…good marketing would have been to “grandfather” those of us who were already there). I dealt with a loyalty point system that I had to constantly monitor for missing points, decreased options to spend those loyalty points and continual problems with the monies I loaded on my card not working at the concession stands. Lot A is still not paved and the outer reaches of Lot C are in a different time zone than the stadium. After a while, you start to feel like you are truly not a “valued customer”.

    So now the front office is running all sorts of promotions to get more butts in the seats. It would have been a lot easier (and cheaper) to just treat your original season ticket holders properly and keep them coming to the stadium.

    OK..my rant is over….thanks for allowing me to vent!!!

    • I still don’t understand why they built the training field in prime parking area instead of on the edge of the property.

      • or next to their fancy training building. it’s in the “look! no, really, we’re spending money” location

      • Zizouisgod says:

        Remember how the training fields came about. It was after a Twitter exchange between Soumare, Okugo and MacMath about practicing in Chester Park. It was a public embarassment for the club especially because it came out when TFC signed Bradley.

        Sak’s knee-jerk reaction was to put them there so the players could use the Talen locker rooms instead of having to build separate facilities. He probably had to do that in order to keep the construction costs down so Sugarman would approve the expenditure.

  5. John O'Donnell says:

    I don’t know why you’re shocked. The Union give the impression to fans that they aren’t interested in winning a championship and Ernie was more than willing to tell you that. Just look at the Sixers and Phillies attendances in down years for an example. If they keep winning, more will come to watch. Other than a superstar DP who casual fans will come to see, this organization has to repair its reputation of being cheap and uninterested in competing for a championship.
    .
    More fans look at what Atlanta has done in just two years and believe this is just a mid-level team and not really worth investing time and energy in. Maybe if the process of playing youth starts to bear fruit, that reputation will change and fans will come back. Sadly they had 2,500 hard core supporters a decade ago in the river end and now it looks like that’s not even half of what it was.

    • Earnie telling us we were going to suck is the worst thing he could have possibly done. the owner should have fired him just for that.

  6. While attendance for the Union is one of the lowest in the league, the % of stadium full is about average. The team really needs to do more to get fans out to games and hopefully that happens as the weather improves and the team continues to play well. I don’t think there is any threat at this point of MLS coming in and moving the team or anything like that.

  7. The casual fan only wants to see goals and wins. The unfortunate reality is this organization floundered in its first few years and the diehards have left.

  8. Matt Thornton says:

    Here is the truth of it, from my perspective.

    1) The Union organization, particularly the ownership, doesn’t care about putting the best product on the field, as evidenced by its unwillingness to open the pocketbook for [current] quality players. I’ll give them that they’ve invested well in the youth ranks, but for every Aaronson and Trusty, they’ve got a Christian Hernandez, Zach Pfeffer, Jimmy McLaughlin, and now evidently Derrick Jones.

    2) I was a season ticket holder for the first 8 seasons, and I LOVED the atmosphere down at the stadium, especially in some of the memorable ‘rivalry’ games and the USOC finals, all-star game, etc. Probably attended 85-90% of those games. But, over the course of time, some “hardcore” fans thought they were more important because of their connections to SOB leadership, or because of their seat # and section, to the point where it became annoying, aggressive, and downright disrespectful. The chants became rote, the team’s play was stale, and it felt like a sinking ship.

    3) I completely agree that Union game tickets, and even their season tickets, are the best value for money in Philly sports, if you want to see a big five league. (I’m bias because soccer is the best game on the planet) But, for me, the question became “why I would want to spend that much on a team that lacked ambition, when I could simply pick a few games a year, save a few hundred bucks, and catch matches on TV for the rest. ” USOC early games are $15 with free parking. Thats a no-brainer for a Wednesday night for me.

    4) I want the team to do well. I really do. I want to see them win games, and put streaks together. I want to see beautiful play, and I’ve been there for some truly great moments in Union history. But at this point, with their ownership, and their current coach, and the direction in which spending is going in the league, this team will have to pull a Leicester. I’ll be happy if they do, but I surely won’t regret it if I’m not there for every game along the way.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      at the cost of my own redundancy-but once more because truth is always true, everything said, written, argued for —-or against, every whim, hope & prayer, blind squirrel finding a nut- as it relates to Philadelphia Union since it’s inception and still to this day, must first recognize one immutable fact—-
      .
      —- average is the business plan.

      • This. I think more than anything else, we live in an area who just doesn’t want to be told that we’re going to be mid level at best unless we get lucky on several players. Unfortunately that’s what it will be here for a while.

  9. el Pachyderm says:

    This is not some outlier to Union. It’s a league wide issue. TV ratings suck. Butts in seats suck. But the league will argue everything is wonderful. Yes a few staunch supports groups (typically rooted in a league from long ago) show up week in week out- but in us sports, when the winning dries up- the support dries up too and nothing displays that more than soccer. I’ve argued for years the reasons at this place and refrain from it any longer.
    .
    Atlanta United are in full ‘who gives a fuck,’ pose already. No different than Orlando or or or or.
    .
    Union had a chance to be grand and frittered it away- Flyers Faithful are just that because it’s a niche sport successful from jump and now long since successful but the commitment is there from the niche fans.
    .
    This doesn’t even broach the eyesores and warts of soccer policy and an incubated protected first tier league.
    .
    The reasons are countless why the seats are empty. Just don’t fall for the lazy narrative soccer isn’t popular here.

    • It is a league issue. Look at attendance at Red Bull matches. Chicago has been a ghost town as well. I can see Chicago, because they’ve been pretty poor, but Red Bull have been consistently good.

      I’ve found myself drifting into a perpetual state of boredom with MLS in general. I don’t think it’s strictly euro-snobbery. It’s just that the league is simply not as compelling. The PL is great. Champions League has been remarkable.

      I still watch the Union, but I don’t make any time for MLS media — podcasts or stories. That’s in part because aside from the reliable Union-related media here, there’s really not much that’s all that good. I applaud the extra time guys for trying, but they bore me to tears more often than not. … There’s not the same quality of narrative to MLS…. I dunno. Maybe I am a Eurosnob.

      • Spoken like a true Eurosnob. You forget, the Brits can make even a 5 day long Test Cricket Match seem exciting. Talk about creating narrative out of nothing.

        No offense meant if you love Cricket. We all have sports we just don’t get.

      • Nothing could make cricket interesting for me.

        I still don’t think I’m a eurosnob. And I’m not sure what more I expect MLS to “do” for me. Stadium atmosphere would help a lot. Current attendance and TV ratings should be concerning to the league.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        There is no such thing as a euro snob… particularly in today’s day and age with near limitless access to footy around the clock.
        .
        some people drink Coors. Others drink Bass…. the Bass drinker isn’t a eurosnob becasue he likes the rich bodied taste of this ale over beer brewed in the Rockies.
        .
        I have hardly missed one match in this years Copa Liberatadores and choose that rabid beautiful south american footy over an MLS game every time… I watch the Union. This is bond. Beyond that. Why watch Houston play San Jose in front of 17 people?

  10. What is interesting to me is that 113 had VERY limited seats available to purchase, yet the section was half empty on game day. That’s a lot of people paying money to sit at home.

    • That’s the team’s ticketing software not opening all the tickets at once. Every ticketing software does this to make people create a false sense of scarcity.

      Just yesterday the newest intern called to ask what he could do to get me on a ticket plan. I told him nothing because it wasn’t cost effective and it’s a very easy ticket to get at or below face value. He then tried to tell me there may not be tickets available for the “bigger games” this year like DC. I managed to not laugh but it’s the same tactic.

      • No, that’s not it. There were very few seats available for the match even a couple of days beforehand — far fewer than I have seen in the past. There are unquestionably a LOT of people buying tickets and not showing up. Which is a weird phenomenon.

    • John Harris says:

      I think the team actually sells those seats. They are bought by employers who give or sell them to employees or customers. However, people don’t want the tickets.

  11. Scott of Nazareth says:

    Taken in isolation, an early afternoon, mid-April, Saturday game on a holiday weekend against a bland opponent isn’t going to draw too well.

    Lots of other valid reasons (pricing/parking) and history listed above are certainly involved with the low turnout.

    If the winning form continues thru May, my guess is we’ll start seeing beefier attendance figures down the stretch.

  12. Chad Boardman says:

    i’d take exception to the team being “worth it.”

    Yes, Philly is in 3rd in the East (technically a 3 way tie). But, being in third place less than 1/4 of the season gets you nothing. Also, this is the eastern conference, where a grand total of 3 of the 12 teams have positive, non-zero goal differentials.

    Yes,they have won four of five. But sample size is key. If the Eagles didn’t win anything for a decade and then won 2 games (approximately the same weight versus total games played) in the middle of the season, no one would say they were “good” now absent other information confirming that statement. Also, who did the Union beat? From the start of this “streak:” an under-manned Columbus team at home, an expansion team with about 3 MLS-quality players, a Dallas team missing 5 starters at home, and a crappy Montreal team (at least without Piatti), whose goal differential earlier in the season stands at -3.

    I’ve watched the games. They don’t pass the eye test. This looks like a team beating bad teams. That’s a good thing, don’t get me wrong, but to be called a good team, you must beat other good teams. There have been 3 Union games against teams that you would probably call good this year: TFC, Dallas, and LA. They lost 2 of those games, and squeaked by at the last minute, at home, against half of Dallas’s starters.

    • reading comments up to this point, all solid defenses. here, the numbers don’t lie. context like this are why educated fans are skeptics.

    • Zizouisgod says:

      Don’t disagree with you at all, but TBF, Montreal is second in the East and have only played one home match so far. After watching them last Sat, I struggle to think of them as a good team, but by MLS’s weird standards, they are right now

      • John P. O'Donnell Jr. says:

        Not that I disagree but there is hope in knowing they started a new system and the eye test also says they are playing better than the first game. Also teams that are missing players to injuries or suspensions although true but so have the Union suffered from that as well. To me that’s a wash.

  13. So there’s 3 issues:

    1. It’s not convenient to get to from the city. Takes 2-3x as long to get to Talen on public transit than down to the other stadiums from Center City.

    2. The immediate surrounds negate from the gameday experience. No bars, no restaurants, few paved lots… all for a cheap price of $20 to park? The area isn’t an area that screams Philadelphia, it’s a post industrial area with a few residents still around.

    3. The team has been hot garbage for so long that people don’t associate going to games as an enjoyable time.


    I think this year’s team has potential to change the narrative on #3, but we’ll see. It will certainly be an uphill climb.

    • finally, someone else who wanted to throw a chair across the room over the “truly not that difficult to get to” by Nick. you know what’s convenient: one mass transit line to the doorstep. i take two to get down to the sports complex to get there in 45mins, without an express on the BSL. Uber home: reasonable price $8-12. you know what i did at the Phils game two weeks ago: biked to and from the stadium. >10 mile ride, on a gorgeous night.

      i can do none of these for Chester waterfront. 2 hours each way mass transit. U-ride? if they don’t forget to send the bus. Brauhaus bus. been there, done it. not bad but not convenient as it’s not on a major transit line. $30–45, non-surge pricing; $60+ when surge demand.

      their recent, past season woes have made me stop and think: i am not traveling down there to see them, defaulting to TV.

      Kevin’s pts 2 and 3, also valid.

  14. Phillies and in Fall, Eagles.
    Many of casual fans that Union depend upon to fill seats are soccer parents. Anecdotal but last two autumn seasons, topic at soccer games was the Eagles whereas just couple years before it was Leicester or Messi, or man United or Chelsea. Even at old SMG in Warminster for winter futsal one of the coaches had to plead with his team to leave tv screen of eagles playoffs to come play their game.
    Now topic this spring has been Phillies.
    Even if not going to linc or cbp, or those teams are away, they watch on tv.
    Union waited too long to get good. Need to schedule games around Phillies and Eagles.
    Even many union diehards might find it difficult to ignore an eagles-dallas game or Phillies playoff to watch Union.
    UnionGoal

  15. There is one reason alone. This team does not excite a casual fan.

    If I was Sugarman, I’d be hiring someone from the Sixers/NBA to head up my marketing/technical team. The 6ers are fun because of Embiid, Simmons and Butler’s personalities.

    I don’t even watch basketball, but its fun following the Sixers and players on socials. The Union’s roster/FO doesn’t inspire me to follow them. I do it because I like soccer.

  16. Sure, I’ll beat the dead horse.
    .
    The bad product is poorly located and there are more exciting and mainstream alternatives for prospective audiences. Ownership rides the league wave.
    .
    Don’t stop showing up, you owe it to the kid you once were. It doesn’t cost much and sometimes, like this past Saturday, the breeze coming off the river is just heavenly. And a couple times a year, if you’re lucky, you’ll see a star come to town and do something that makes the kid in you say “Wow!” Nothing can beat that feeling. Nothing at all.
    .
    Last summer in monsoon conditions I was upgraded to sideline seats. I was twenty yards away. I saw the smile creep across Zlatan’s face when Alessandrini beat Gaddis in the corner. He knew he’d be getting the pass and he knew exactly how he’d hit it. Goal. The beautiful game. I saw it with boyish eyes through raindrops.

    • John Harris says:

      There are Union employed posters in the comments. This is one of them.

      • Actually you are wrong– writer is El Pachy. He has a poetic form and this was well-written. Believe he also has son or sons playing for union at pre-academy level so while unlikely he is paid given his no holds bar criticism of both FO and MLS, reasonable that he still has vested interest in union staying in Philly and being successful.
        Wish his sons success and hope if they do play professional that no goofy fan stalks their social media to call them weakminded as he did to K R. No matter your opinion of a players performance that was tasteless. I will be rooting for his son’s if they do play. World needs more zindanes –headbutts and amazing playing followed by decent coaching career!
        UnionGoal

      • I’m neither a Union employee nor the Elephant (though I appreciate the compliment/comparison). Believe me, I have my qualms with this organization but when it comes down to it, I’m just a loyal, founding member fool (section 117, formerly 133). Go Union, good or bad.

  17. Christian – with all due respect you are wrong and the “Chester” location is an issue. It’s not easy to get to from within the city, Chester and Montgomery counties. There’s no Broad Street Line that drops you in sight of the stadium. Ownership has done nothing to build up the area around the stadium. Fans don’t care there’s training grounds and team office buildings next door. A new fan doesn’t want to take the family to a game in a city with a poor reputation next to a casino and prison. South Philly complex thrives because there is bar and restaurants all in the area and east access to other parts of the city. Chester has nothing close to that. I share your frustration but don’t kid yourself.

    • Your counter argument is all over the place and mostly incorrect. Chester is easier by far for all the suburbs, including Bucks, Chester, Delco, and Montgomery. There is simply less overall volume for an 18K stadium, and the routes onto the blue route and 95 are super simple. The location argument is valid for Philly residents for sure. The family friendly atmosphere of the stadium crushes South Broad. It’s mostly families, and much less volume. Even the SOB crowd is fairly contained to the river end. Phillies and Eagles crowds are both brutal in the stadium and the lot. Winning fixes everything.

      • It’s not easier for Bucks you have to drive through the city or around on blue route to get there, from lower bucks you literally drive past every other team stadium to get to Chester

      • It’s all over the place because there are so many things wrong. I live in the city and it’s not easy to get there when you live closer to 76. I go at least 8 times per year and a season ticket holder. And family friendly, are you kidding me? What outdoor playgrounds and attractions outside the stadium have I missed? You cant even see the field from the concessions if you leave your seat. Stop drinking the Kool aid.

  18. Vince Smith says:

    Here are the reasons from most important to least:
    Lack of winning
    Lack of winning
    Lack of winning
    History of mediocrity
    Lack of winning
    Lack of winning
    Lack of winning
    Tone deaf ownership
    Lack of winning
    Lack of winning
    Lack of playoff success (also winning)
    Lack of stat power
    Lack of real transfer budget
    Feel of a minor league team competing in a major league

    Lack of winning

  19. I’ll leave the Chester vs. Philly argument alone.
    .
    I’d offer that the Union’s overall marketing strategy is poor. They need more … everything. Advertising, a weekly show on the radio, whatever….something to create a buzz.
    .
    Oh. Winning helps too.

  20. My friends and I would be season ticket holders if the stadium was in Philadelphia. Chester is too far.

  21. To me, it’s bigger than the Union, it’s about the MLS and the value proposition of how to spend my time and money. I don’t see the quality of play league-wide to justify the cost of tickets, parking and time spent getting to and from the stadium. I’d rather watch any two EPL teams on TV in the morning, then spend a sunny afternoon taking a long walk, working in the yard or shooting hoops vs. investing the time and money to attend an MLS game. And, before you call me a Eurosnob, if I need a live footy fix, I’d rather drive to South Philly and/or West Chester to watch Phila. Lone Star and/or the WC United Predators play in the NPSL or the USOC with easy access, free parking and a low ticket price vs. seeing an MLS game in Talen Energy.

    • It is pretty amazing that we pay ticket prices that exceed English Championship level for quality of play that doesn’t begin to compare.

  22. I looked on the site and StubHub on game day and the whole stadium was either blue or dark blue. There was a lot available.

    Attendance has been declining every year. Kinda funny the author just noticed.

  23. Not very family friendly by river end. We learned early to get tix at opposite end. Hearing “suck my balls” yelled at a female A R is epitome of drunk frat boy behavior, made so much worse with my young daughters beside me.
    Glad we weren’t there for the coffin with Sak — I get you don’t like a sports director but seriously that was sick and tasteless.
    Supporters groups are supposed to be and often are the highlight of stadium experience that make it fun for kids and I’m glad SOB for the most part provide that. Just the occasions above really ruin it especially for people going to their first match.
    As for driving from bucks,fine drive in but going home especially if Phil’s, Sixers or flyers are playing 95 is a mess. And getting out of parking lot c can be brutal— seen a few fender benders over the years. Plus I always take my car to the carwash next day as filthy.
    Paying $20 for that parking experience is insulting and one reason we cut down from 6-8 games a year to 1-3. Rest we watch on tv or catch highlights later.

    As for comment on Phil’s and Eagles fans– I agree 20 years ago at the Vet but not in last 10 years. I’ve friends who are Mets and cowboys fans who’ve had no issue in recent years but wouldn’t dare gone to games at vet.

    UnionGoal

    • When my kids were younger some of the chants weren’t as family friendly as they could have been. I have 2 girls and a boy. I would just explain that we didn’t need to act like those people. Now that they are of adult age..they chant along,unless there are young kids in front or behind us. We go cuz it’s fun. And we enjoy the highs and lows of the season and the team. Is European football better…sure. it’s also their primary sport. Not to many baseball games in the UK will pull a soccer fan away from their game!

    • This is a very underrated reason for not wanting to go to the games. My wife doesn’t like the atmosphere for that reason. The SOB chants are unimaginative, and they all seem to force the F word into the chant. There are so many great chants available that are unique to the city and don’t require profanity, but that’s another thread for another day. And the officials don’t give us a fair shake, mostly because they are told to “suck my balls” EVERY game. Yeah, that really helps them onto our side! Not every fan wants to hear boring, profane chants that never change week in and week out.

  24. David Barrist says:

    The Philadelphia sports fan has become smarter and more frugal with their ticket dollar. All you have to do is look at the Phillies’ attendance over the last few years and the Sixers during “The Process.” The Flyers who previously were immune to attendance woes played to a half-empty Wells Fargo Center this season.
    The Union’s history of mediocrity doesn’t help. Big name world soccer stars, coming to MLS, land everywhere but Philadelphia. The Union need a “face.” That “face” needs a big personality. The Sixers have Embiid. The Flyers had Scott Hartnell. The Eagles have Jason Kielce. The Phillies (now) have Harper. The FACE of an organization puts people in the seats in Philadelphia.
    Lastly, don’t discount the Chester thing. Where can you go before or after a match? Where’s the Xfinity Live? Where’s the Chickies & Pete’s? The Chester Waterfront was never developed, as promised. Today, attending a sporting event is more than just the game. That pre and post game opportunity isn’t there in Chester.

    • While I mostly agree with your premise, I am not sure Scott Hartnell or Jason Kelce are the best examples of the faces of the Flyers and Eagles, respectively. That said, if the Union had someone like Zlatan on the roster, it might be worth the price of admission to go a few times a year in hopes of seeing him do something Zlatan-esque.

  25. I would count myself as one of the casual fans the Union need to appeal to. I didn’t get into soccer until I met my husband. When we met we went to a few games a year. Now we might make it to one a year. The location/environment and where we are in our lives has a LOT to do with that. We now have a 4 year old son who loves the sport. You’d think that would get us to go to more games, right? But it doesn’t. Weekday games are out because a 7pm start and a 45 minute drive home (to NW Philly) doesn’t work for a kid who is in bed by 8. On the rare event of an early weekend match, what is there to do at the stadium with a kid who doesn’t have the attention span to sit in his seat for the second half? The Phillies have the Yard…the Union have a walk around the concourse? There’s nothing around the stadium to cut down on people leaving right after the match. It’s a shame that there isn’t more of a draw to go to a match because the Union are the best value of the 5 sports teams in the area.

    • Pfang was attempt at that as were flags on opening day. Minor league baseball does amazing job with that with contests between innings and 2_3 mascots walking the stadium through crowd,kids flocking for pictures.
      90 minutes vs 3 hours, Halves vs innings, currently double the crowd size are difficulties but a smart promotions group helps. Methinks they ceded that responsibility for most part to SOB so one less expense for club.
      UnionGoal

  26. I am definitely not the person to answer this question because I’ve had season tickets since day one and will continue for as long as I have the resources. Know that I also have Eagles season tickets since 1998 and another 10 years as a child with my family. Can’t say I don’t like the winning because Phillies 2008 and Eagles 2018 were the greatest moments of my fandom. Seriously, what is 10 years when I waited 45 for a Super Bowl! I’m from Philly and I know the suffering is equal parts to the winning. And makes it worth the wait. My family loves going to the games and being with friends. Being an Eagles fan is my connection to my dad, and my best friend, my daughter and all my friends. The suffering builds that connection. We are from Philly and the Union are our team! And now they are my connection to my wife and kids. They are not worse than those terrible Eagles of Marion Campbell or Rich Kotite and definitely not as bad the Phillies in late 80’s and 90’s. Stay the course, keep going to games and celebrate like crazy when Union win MLS Cup in 2028!

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