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What can college football learn from MLS? A lot, apparently

Philadelphia Union v Sporting Kansas City Getty Images

The World Cup proved the influence of soccer is growing in the United States. It could not have happened at a better time for college football programs concerned about the state of the game as it relates to fans packing stadiums. While college football struggles to keep fans interested in attending games in person rather than the comfort of their cozy homes, Major League Soccer franchises are actually putting on display what it takes to keep fans engaged at a game.

The Wall Street Journal profiled what defending MLS champion Sporting Kansas City is doing that is catching the eyes of college football programs like Florida and representatives from the Pac-12. Both have sent representatives to check out Sporting KC in person, something the MLS franchise welcomes with open arms.

It helps that Sporting KC has taken advantage of all kinds of metrics to profile fans coming to games, giving the franchise a deeper look at who the fans are, what interests them and what keeps them coming back, or perhaps what keeps them from coming back. According to the Wall Street Journal, the soccer franchise has compiled data on over 250,000 fans. Information from that wealth of information helps Sporting KC come up with the best incentives for the fans, which in turn helps build a strong relationship between team and fan. That is what college football’s heavyweights want to learn more about, as stadiums continue to see dwindling ticket sales and smaller student section turnouts etc.

Not everything that works for soccer will translate to college football, but if tactics can be extrapolated from one sport to the other, thenĀ a trip to Sporting KC may need to be required by many of the nation’s large college football programs with massive stadiums to fill.

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11 Responses to “What can college football learn from MLS? A lot, apparently”
  1. udub says: Jul 19, 2014 1:05 PM

    Makes sense. If you go to an MLS game it’s a lively environment where the fans are engaged.

    Most college football games the crowd arrives late, sits there, leaves early and repeats 5 or 6 more times a year.

  2. sweepthleg says: Jul 19, 2014 1:23 PM

    I imagine the information they find is pretty basic ticket prices, tailgaiting experience and I don’t know fielding a winner. Are all things that keep ppl coming back. MLS will keep growing because more kids are playing tix prices are cheap at the moment and there isn’t an over abundance of non game crap

  3. manik56 says: Jul 19, 2014 4:09 PM

    More post-game fireworks!

  4. anc713 says: Jul 19, 2014 4:35 PM

    Unlike football, soccer fans don’t have to sit through a constant barrage of t.v. timeouts.

  5. dcroz says: Jul 19, 2014 6:19 PM

    Want to keep college football fans coming to games? It’s not too complicated, really:

    1) As anc713 said above, cut back on the media timeouts. You can deal with them at home with a quick trip to the bathroom/kitchen or flipping the channel to check out other games; your options at the stadium are pretty much limited to looking around disinterestedly until action starts again.

    2) Serve beer and upgrade the quality of other concessions. People don’t like paying $5 for a cold, damp hot dog and a watery soft drink, and upgrades to food systems should make this a thing of the past.

    3) Stop scheduling FCS or weak FBS teams as glorified scrimmages. While some football-crazy places like Alabama or Nebraska will sell out such games regardless (fans who don’t have the connections to score tickets to the bigger games take advantage of people dumping their tickets to these snoozefests to get a chance to attend) most places cannot. The possibility of the creation of a “Division IV” with the Big Five gaining autonomy should make it easier for schools to schedule games against other big-time opponents, or at least give them much greater incentive to do so.

    And, of course, the best way to get fans to come to your games:

    4) Just win, baby. Especially if you’re Miami, who can’t seem to get anyone to show up otherwise even if they had strippers performing at halftime.

  6. tampabayirish says: Jul 19, 2014 10:26 PM

    TV timeouts kill the in stadium experience. At home, they are tolerable. At the stadium, they are awful. It would be nice to see if college football could wrest a little control back of its game from the likes of the evil four letter network. As the original story pointed out, it sure was nice to see constant action during the World Cup. No TV timeouts and the typical match was over in about two hours. American Football, and especially baseball, could learn a lot from how soccer is televised.

  7. beanocook says: Jul 20, 2014 12:03 AM

    Give fans at the game the same game information fans at home get. TV is better value because fans in stands are left in dark of what’s happening, injuries, subs, replay, etc…

  8. footballer4ever says: Aug 9, 2014 5:04 PM

  9. footballer4ever says: Aug 9, 2014 5:59 PM

  10. footballer4ever says: Aug 9, 2014 6:04 PM

  11. footballer4ever says: Aug 9, 2014 6:14 PM

    The boring, but intellectual side of it.

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