Major League Soccer could push Panther football attendance up

For the “thousands” who showed up on weekends to watch the Georgia State football team in action, don’t fret. Atlanta’s upcoming Major League Soccer (MLS) team won’t force the Panthers out of the Georgia Dome, but it may force you to watch the team play on another day.

For the past four years, the Atlanta Falcons shared its home, the Georgia Dome, with Georgia State. Three years from now, there will be another team playing in the Georgia Dome: Atlanta’s new MLS team that has yet to be named.

This season, MLS plays its games on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday from March to October. If MLS’ scheduling remains the same in 2017, it could present a scheduling issue for Georgia State in the Georgia Dome.

The Panthers may have to find another day to play their games such as Thursday or Friday, days when they usually play their first game of the season.

However, Georgia State is already dealing with scheduling issues at the Georgia Dome. The Panthers had to get a special waiver from the NCAA to play their first game of the season against Abilene Christian on Wednesday, Aug. 27. The college football season officially starts on Aug. 28, however.

Georgia State has to take a backseat to the marquee college football teams that will be played in the Georgia Dome that week in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff games.

There will be two Chick-Fil-A Kickoff games, Ole Miss vs. Boise State on Thurs. Aug. 28 and Alabama vs. West Virginia on Sat. Aug. 30. Ole Miss’, Boise State’s, Alabama’s and West Virginia’s home stadium is not the Georgia Dome, yet they have been given priority over Georgia State.

It would not be surprising to see the new soccer team get priority over the Panthers either since it’s owned by Arthur Blank, the owner of The Atlanta Falcons. When the Falcons have their final preseason game, which is on the same week of Georgia State’s first game, the Falcons would get priority.

Last year, when the Falcons played their final preseason game on the road, the Panthers played their first game on a Friday. However, in 2012, the Falcons played their final preseason game at home on a Friday pushing Georgia State up to Thursday.

Fortunately, the imminent move may be a blessing in disguise for the Panthers.

Attendance has been an issue for Georgia State since the program’s inception.

When Georgia State played its season finale on Nov. 30 against South Alabama, the total attendance was 13,697. Meanwhile, Georgia State’s most attended football games have been home openers – 30,237 against Shorter (Thurs. Sept. 2, 2010), 26,273 against Clark-Atlanta (Fri. Sept. 2, 2011), 18,921 against South Carolina State (Thurs. Aug. 30, 2012) and 17,606 against Samford (Fri. Aug. 30, 2013).

For Georgia State’s sake, if they want to grow as a program, the possible game day change may be for the better. Players have said repeatedly, if they have a crowd behind them, they play better. What would be better than playing on the days where you have the best turnout?

The move would also be more convenient for students since Georgia State is a commuter school. Students would not have to make that Saturday afternoon commute for the game since they would already be on campus. History shows students aren’t taking the time out to make the extra commute downtown in addition to their school and/or work obligations.

During the week is a better time for the Panthers to have football games when most of its 32,000-plus population is all in one spot during the week.