Jump to content

Post: Lynx still looking for some attention


sstackho

Recommended Posts

Lynx still looking for some attention: Toronto's forgotten team

Sean Fitz-Gerald

National Post

661 words

11 May 2005

National Post

Toronto

S8

English

© 2005 National Post . All Rights Reserved.

TORONTO - Playfield B is an open patch of grass tucked into a corner of Centennial Park, which lies on the western fringe of the city. Airplanes rumble lazily over nearby Pearson International and traffic from Highway 401 hums on its way toward all the action downtown, a place which has been both foreign and out of reach for the Toronto Lynx.

The city's professional men's soccer team has spent eight seasons struggling on the margins of Canada's largest market and, like its practice pitch on Playfield B yesterday, it continues to exist only on the outskirts.

Soccer fans have been known to shut down entire Toronto neighbourhoods during international events. Thousands rise early on Saturdays and skip work midweek to watch European games on television -- but only about 3,000 pay to watch the Lynx play their United Soccer League games at Centennial Park Stadium.

"It is frustrating," midfielder David Diplacido said. "I think there's just a stigma that this isn't a high level of soccer, maybe some people think that. But there's definitely been players from other countries who have come to try out and don't make it. So, it is a high level ... it's just a matter of getting it through some peoples' heads."

Toronto is winless through the first six games of its new season in the USL's first division, carrying an 0-4-2 record into its home opener against Montreal this Sunday afternoon.

"I think that there is a solid core of fans in Toronto that really, each weekend, are focused on their games in their own country of birth and follow that with a passion," said Dick Howard, the well-known television analyst acting as technical advisor to the Lynx. "It will always be tough because people will always make comparisons, 'Well, this is not the Premiership.' No, it isn't the Premiership, but let's appreciate the fact there are good players being developed in Canada. They need a league to play in."

There is hope a new stadium proposal at York University would give the Lynx a new place to play and, for the first time in memory, a real chance to grow the fan base. But the new building would also threaten to kill the entire franchise.

If the project clears funding hurdles created when the Toronto Argonauts withdrew financial support earlier this month, there has been speculation a Major League Soccer franchise would soon follow. The MLS ranks far, far below most European leagues, but it is the best circuit currently operating in North America.

Soccer fans do exist in Canada, even if FIFA ranks the country No. 84 in the world.

Five years ago, the Lynx could have sold close to 20,000 tickets for a game against Reggina, a side from Italy's Serie A. But the game was held at Varsity Stadium shortly before it was demolished by the University of Toronto, and an entire grandstand had been deemed unfit for spectators.

"At the present time, [the USL is] the best calibre of professional soccer in Canada," Howard said. "I think we've got to do a better job in making people aware of the team and getting fans to come out to the games. No, it's not the same location as Varsity -- it's a little more difficult to come out to Etobicoke. But if we can start to average 4 ... 5,000 a game this season, I think it will be a job well done."

sfitzgerald@nationalpost.com

Colour Photo: Yvonne Berg for National Post / Toronto Lynx goalkeeper Richard Goddard and his teammates have had a hard time convincing Torontonians that they play a high level of soccer.; Colour Photo: BUTTING HEADS: The Lynx play on the outskirts of Toronto, both literally and figuratively.: (Photo ran on pg. S1.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

quote:but only about 3,000 pay to watch the Lynx play their United Soccer League games at Centennial Park Stadium.

Either this reporter isn't doing her research, or the Lynx gave her an inflated number. The Centennial Stadium grandstand holds 2,200 at the most. The grandstand is rarely full, so I would estimate about 1,500-2,000 actually show up.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

quote:Originally posted by Jarrek

Either this reporter isn't doing her research, or the Lynx gave her an inflated number. The Centennial Stadium grandstand holds 2,200 at the most. The grandstand is rarely full, so I would estimate about 1,500-2,000 actually show up.

When I used to cover Italia matches their, I asked the Stadium staff what their capacity was. Their number jives with yours, 2200.

A dose of reality please?

db

Link to comment
Share on other sites

quote:Originally posted by dbailey62

When I used to cover Italia matches their, I asked the Stadium staff what their capacity was. Their number jives with yours, 2200.

A dose of reality please?

db

2,200 eh? Wow... then for every Lynx match I ever attended at Centennial Stadium, attendance has not come close to 2,000. I generally sit in the northern part of the Grandstand and it is always fairly empty, even when the Lynx are playing Rochester, Montreal or Vancouver. But hey, I'm sure the Hartrell's marketing plan will be filling up the entire Grandstand any game now...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The same nonsense was repeated in the Star today in a short article by Jennifer Quinn. It claimed that Lynx attendance rose steadily for 5 years until they moved to Centennial, where it apparently has dropped to an average of 3000 paying attendees. Where do they get these numbers from?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

They believed the numbers the Lynx fed them! Now it becomes fact so why lowball the figures.

Let Dave Perkins downgrade the figures to 'a few hundred' and we'd all be complaining.

I don't see a problem with feeding a hostile media these figures.

While the team itself when announcing attendance last year were more honest with their totals than the year before so it looked like attendance was unchanged last year but to me it looked like more people showed up.

Official attendance from the 2005 United Soccer Leagues Media Guide puts total attendance at 34,217

for the Lynx last year or a 2444 average. (how those two schoolday crowds helped puff the totals).

Inferno attendance was 1741 for the entire season or 249 average (7 home dates). The new Lady Lynx could beat that attendance tomorrow in one game! (depends if they count who's there by 1:00pm or who gets there half hour early for the Lynx game at 4:00pm. I'll be waiting for the game a week later where it's just them as the headliner.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

quote:Originally posted by Rocket Robin

They believed the numbers the Lynx fed them! Now it becomes fact so why lowball the figures.

Let Dave Perkins downgrade the figures to 'a few hundred' and we'd all be complaining.

I don't see a problem with feeding a hostile media these figures.

While the team itself when announcing attendance last year were more honest with their totals than the year before so it looked like attendance was unchanged last year but to me it looked like more people showed up.

Official attendance from the 2005 United Soccer Leagues Media Guide puts total attendance at 34,217

for the Lynx last year or a 2444 average. (how those two schoolday crowds helped puff the totals).

Inferno attendance was 1741 for the entire season or 249 average (7 home dates). The new Lady Lynx could beat that attendance tomorrow in one game! (depends if they count who's there by 1:00pm or who gets there half hour early for the Lynx game at 4:00pm. I'll be waiting for the game a week later where it's just them as the headliner.

Ya but Robin, it doesn't matter if the media is hostile (although I'm not sure that uninterested equals hostile). The issue is credibility. If you feed them false information, and they know it, they have no reason to trust anything you ever tell them.

db

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How come everyone used to be happy enough about any such coverage in Toronto papers — there have been, what, 4 articles leading up to the first home match? — and now it's just about criticizing the numbers they are reporting? It seems everyone has gotten more bitter and whiny than usual.

Well, then, I'll say it: I've been impressed with the coverage of the Lynx this week.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes very impressed.

But with seasons past, we see some reports about the first game of the season and then coverage fizzles out by the second game. I remember seasons past at Varsity moving up to the front row of the press box after the first game.

The Star hasn't been there for so many years that they can't counter with "3000 fans? You've got to be kidding!"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...