At this season's midpoint, Toronto is averaging 19,665 in a stadium that seats 21,859.
Paul Beirne, TFC senior director of business operations, blames most of this on bad weather and points out that all future games this season project as sellouts, including today's match with the Sounders.
However, over four seasons, the Reds have never had a winning season and have never made the playoffs. Their all-time record is 36-59-41 with a goal differential of minus 60. This season their goal differential is minus 10 -- the worst in MLS.
In the story, I asked Sounders general manager Adrian Hanauer if Toronto offers any sort of cautionary tale for always-sold-out Seattle. He said he already knows that. And here's some more of what he had to say, which didn't make the paper:
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"I’d hate to speculate on Toronto’s situation. My belief is that we need to keep delivering on the field. I think people understand you’re going to have bad games, you might even have a bad season. But you’d better keep trying and working hard and being smart and creative and giving your fans hope and confidence that you’ve got it figured out or you can’t figure it out. I don’t know really what’s going on in Toronto. All I know is that we’re obsessed with trying to keep a good thing and build on it.
I also asked if Toronto's success -- especially its urban stadium and focus on adult supporters -- was a blueprint for all MLS teams that followed, including the Sounders.
"It’s complicated," he said. "It is 10 different things. For sure we saw the urban success in that urban setting. We obviously had the benefit of that at Qwest Field. We saw how they appealed to that younger adult audience. We tried to copy that as well. We saw some of the things they did with technology and merchandising. We tried to copy that. We also had the benefit of timing with the Sonics leaving town. And then we had some unique things that we tried to do even bigger and better than they did. Whether that’s the timing, whether it’s the management team that we started with, whether it’s the trying to over-deliver to the season-ticket base, the democracy in sports. Obviously having a winning team to begin with, winning a couple of championships, at some point we had to sort of be who we are rather than copying what Toronto is doing and trying to emulate them. So, today I think we’re our unique selves. We always want to observe what other teams are doing, but we’ve sort of stopped trying to emulate anyone."