For the UFL perception is reality, and no matter how much the league blows off the poor attendance numbers, and no matter how many viable arguments there are for why the attendance is so low, the simple fact here is if the games are poorly attended sports fans around the nation will continue to ignore this league.
This league can ill afford another poor showing at a big time venue. In their second week of games just 6,341 fans showed up to San Francisco’s AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, for a game between the California Redwoods and the New York Sentinels.
The League had games scheduled for November 4 at Citi Field in New York, and another game November 14 at AT&T Park. To avoid another high profile debacle the league has moved those two games to new venues.
The Redwoods will host the Las Vegas Locos at San Jose State’s Spartan stadium. The New York Sentinels will host the Las Vegas Locos at Hofstra’s James M. Shuart Stadium. There is one game remaining at AT&T Park to be held November 19 between the Florida Tuskers and the Redwoods.
Now this league’s inaugural season came together over the summer, and little too no money has been spent to help promote the league. That is a catch 22 as the league isn’t wasting revenue on advertising, but the average sports fan has no idea what this league is. Worse than that though, is they have no idea where to see these game either in person or on TV.
The perception around the casual sports fan is this league is failing. That may be a little premature. The true test for this league will be the November 4 game held at Tropicana field in Tampa, Florida. The Florida Tuskers are by far the best team in this league, and they are partly owned by the Tampa Bay Rays.
If the Tuskers, with a PR push from the Rays, can draw a decent crowd for that game this league has a fighting chance. Since the Tuskers are now 3-0 after pounding the New York Sentinels Thursday night, they should be able to draw at least 20,000 fans. Let us remember the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a 0-6 and traveling to London, England next week.
With the Rays behind them, the Tuskers now must draw a big enough crowd to prove this league’s viability. The UFL plans to expand in 2010, but they will face a tough sell to new ownership groups since they are averaging just over 12,000 fans per game.
Of course there does seem to be indications that the UFL has strong merchandise sales. Over the past week, I have been following several UFL auctions on eBay and there are fans out there bidding on stuff. Also we see the small crowds at these games largely decked out in UFL gear.
What that seems to show there is a small nitch market for this league, but seeing empty stands week after week on TV leads to the perception for the casual sports fan that this league is going nowhere.