The 19th Major League Soccer season ended Sunday with a new record for total (6,184,980) and average (19,149) attendance, poising the league to potentially average 20k in its 20th season in 2015.
First the numbers:
Now, some notes and such:
- Seattle led the league in attendance for the fifth straight year, though their average actually dropped slightly (less than 1%, nothing to be concerned about) for the first time. Overall, eight of the league’s 19 teams averaged over 20k, the first time that’s ever happened.
- DC United was the biggest gainer from a year ago, as their average in 2014 was almost 25% ahead of 2013’s numbers. Toronto (up 22%), San Jose (up 17% thanks to a couple of marquee off-site games) and New England (up 12%) showed significant growth. Most of the other clubs were within a few percentage points of their performance of a year ago (we’re getting close to capacity in most of these places), but Chivas USA (who is no longer with us) dropped about 16% in their swan song season and Montreal was off 15%.
- My number for Portland doesn’t match the league’s, because I believe they have a transposition error somewhere. The Timbers announced – to my knowledge, anyway – a capacity crowd of 20,814 for each of their 17 home league matches. That should result in a total of 353,838, but the league has them at 353,208. The error – 630 – is common when someone enters a number incorrectly. (My guess is someone entered one of Portland’s games as 20,184 instead of 20,814. The error is – wait for it – 630.) I have alerted the league, but they don’t usually listen to me, so we’ll see what happens.
- With San Jose moving into its new stadium next year, Chivas going to the Great Beyond and New York and Orlando coming on board, there would seem to be a very good chance the league can draw 6,800,000 for its 340 matches in 2015. That would give it an average of 20,000 in its twentieth season. Not bad considering where we were 10 or 12 years ago.
- October was the best average month (20,365), but they were all good (the low was April at 17,242).
- Weekdays used to be scary. And there was great angst when the Friday night TV package was unveiled a few years ago. Now Monday-through-Thursday games averaged 16,269, while Friday through Sunday games averaged 19,579. And Friday was the best night of the week at 22,012 in a small sample (25 games). The real takeaway is that even Wednesdays aren’t a big problem anymore. And the difference between weekends and weekdays, once huge, has narrowed. (Just as a comparison, weekday games averaged under 10k from 1997-1999.)
- The first 161 games averaged 18,524, while the last 162 averaged 19,970.
- Home openers averaged 19,610. Home finales averaged 20,979.
- National TV games – which were also scary, once, averaged 21,623.
- As for the World Cup Effect, MLS averaged 18,497 before the World Cup (18,068 median), 20,338 during its knockout stages (19,633 median) and 19,492 after it (18,989 median). A mild statistical bump that we don’t usually see, but which could be attributed to many things.
- Without Chivas USA as a drag, the league would still have drawn 6 million (6,064,917), but wouldn’t have averaged 20k (close, though – 19,820).