Is Indoor Soccer Dead?
With one weekend left in the 2009-2010 Major Indoor Soccer League season, the playoffs are set: Baltimore will face Monterrey in a two-game set in the semifinals, with the winner1 meeting the Milwaukee Wave (who were dead, just not buried over the summer) in the championship game on Sunday, April 42.
But does it really matter anymore?
I love indoor soccer – have for some 30 years. But it’s hard to ignore the sad landscape of this sport right now. With three games to play (all this weekend), this latest MISL (there have been three, give or take) is on pace to have an overall average attendance of somewhere around 3,700 fans per game. Except for last season’s Xtreme Soccer League (which averaged 3,435 for its mere four teams), a league hasn’t gone under the 4,000 mark in average attendance since the NPSL of 1991-923.
Here’s a chart showing indoor’s attendance averages for the last 25 years (where there have been more than one league – which has happened on several occasions – their totals have been combined). The trend is not positive.
They can still draw a crowd in Baltimore, but their owner is dealing with some serious financial issues of his own. Rockford is rumored to be closing its doors. As there have been as long as I’ve been following indoor, there’s talk of new (or revived) teams coming in next year or the year after.
I know lots of “soccer people” don’t cotton to indoor because of what it isn’t, but I’ve always liked it for what it was – fun. Intense. It’s a great game. Unfortunately, I fear it’s on its last legs. I hope it can be rescued. I’m just not optimistic.
(The data that goes with that chart is after the jump)
1 – They’ll play sudden death overtime if each team wins one game, which is very possible.
2 – Easter Sunday. I know. Long story. Don’t ask.
3 – The NPSL, of course, was originally the AISA, eventually became the second MISL, some of its teams split off and formed the NISL, which re-took the old MISL name right before last season. Clear?