Spring Training at Coachella: Can the M.L.S. Cash In on Its Preseason?

On a recent Wednesday afternoon, Dan Perkin and Scott Bissmeyer, work buddies on vacation, sat on metal bleachers watching the Portland Timbers play the San Jose Earthquakes in the first of four preseason Major League Soccer games that day.

They had spent $125 each on V.I.P. day passes, which included food, drink and access to tents to keep cool. Self-described “M.L.S. road trippers,” they have visited numerous M.L.S. stadiums, and have watched teams in Tucson, Ariz., where as many as 11 clubs came together for preseason training in the past.

But this year, with 12 M.L.S. teams — along with two from the United Soccer League and four from the National Women’s Soccer League — gathered at a 1,000-acre property outside Palm Springs, Calif., for preseason training, Mr. Perkin and Mr. Bissmeyer decided to check it out.

“Compared to Tucson, they put on a nice operation here,” Mr. Perkin said of the site, the Empire Polo Club, best known as the annual site of the Coachella Music Festival. “If you’re going to drive six hours, we might as well treat ourselves.”

Attendance was expected to grow about 40 percent this year.
Dan Perkin and Scott Bissmeyer are self-described “M.L.S. road trippers.”

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