Taking Attendance 10/5/2010: D2 Down 5.5%

The USSF Division II Pro Soccer League season ended over the weekend (the playoffs start tomorrow) and, when all was said and done, average league attendance was down nearly six percent from a year ago, and at its lowest level since 2004. Here are the numbers:

Team G Total Avg. Med. Hi Lo Change
Montreal 15 185,952 12,397 12,443 13,034 10,864 +3.0%
Portland 15 160,899 10,727 9,017 15,418 5,808 +10.2%
Rochester 15 96,965 6,464 6,978 9,157 1,447 +0.6%
Vancouver 15 77,237 5,149 5,185 5,435 4,815 -3.1%
Tampa Bay 15 57,996 3,866 3,882 8,082 1,698 N/A
Austin 15 55,990 3,733 3,671 6,051 2,143 +25.5%
St. Louis 15 41,252 2,750 2,403 5,695 2,037 N/A
Puerto Rico 15 35,368 2,358 2,122 5,077 1,069 -28.4%
Carolina 15 33,611 2,241 2,212 2,879 1,426 -17.9%
Minnesota 15 20,608 1,374 1,429 2,310 588 -57.2%
Miami 15 18,809 1,254 1,126 1,855 742 +18.0%
Baltimore 15 16,122 1,075 1,029 2,348 507 -12.0%
USSF2 TOTAL 180 800,809 4,449 2,872 15,418 507 -5.5%

Some notes:

  • Baltimore’s numbers were down 12 percent from their D3 numbers of a year ago (step up a level, attendance goes down. Second team in a row to do that, how’s that looking now, proles?). Tampa Bay and St. Louis had no numbers last year because they didn’t exist and St. Louis and Baltimore may not next year (supposedly there’s a potential buyer in St. Louis. Good luck.).
  • Portland became the first D2 team not named Montreal or Rochester to average over 10,000 a game in the modern era. They really should go to MLS.
  • Nice work by Austin, up almost 26% thanks (in part, I would guess, ERic could set me straight) to the move from a high school football stadium to a better high school football stadium. Now the NASL (tee hee) says they’ll have a team in San Antonio in 2012, which would be a great carrot to try to get Austin to align with them if only (a) it was 2011 and not 2012, (b ) we had a reasonable expectation that there’d actually be a team in San Antonio in 2012 and (c ) we had a reasonable expectation there will be an NASL in 2012. Or 2011, for that matter.
  • Hey, look at Miami FC, up 18% from a year ago! Maybe Traffic is finally figuring it out*.
  • Biggest dropper: Minnesota, where the NSC Stars did less than half the numbers the old Thunder did, with the caveats that (a) the Thunder were lying and ( b) the National Sports Center had very little time between when they knew they’d have a team and when that team actually had to play. Still, they, like Carolina and St. Louis and Puerto Rico, are looking for investors to be able to play at the D2 level next year, while Baltimore is probably trying to return a bunch of stuff to Best Buy to get some cash in the door.
  • Montreal has now led the league in attendance for the last six years.
  • If you take away the top two teams (Montreal and Portland), the D2 average was just 3,026.
  • No, no World Cup bump, either. Despite what the NASL office (tee hee) would have had you believe, there was no residual effect (at least there’s no evidence of one) from FIFA’s June-July party. Attendance averaged 4,632 (3,886 median) prior to the World Cup and 4,321 (2,649 median) after it.

So, Portland and Vancouver are gone after this month, headed off to MLS. Montreal will follow after another year. Whatever Division II soccer looks like next year, I’m not seeing any particular causes for optimism that the numbers will be substantially different than in years past.


*No, they’re not actually figuring it out.

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27 Responses to “Taking Attendance 10/5/2010: D2 Down 5.5%”

  1. Howie Says:

    Clearly promotion and relegation would solve all of these problems!

    Crazy to consider that a sellout for Montreal (~13,000) or Portland (~15,000) would nearly match the season attendance for Minnesota, Miami, or Baltimore.

  2. admin Says:

    And that, boys and girls, is why you can’t have pro/rel yet.

  3. Jason Toon Says:

    AC St. Louis’s attendance wasn’t great, but it was steady (the low and average are closer than any other team except Montreal). If Ryan Woods does indeed buy the team and keep it alive next year, it’s a sturdy base to build from, at least.

  4. Jason Toon Says:

    I meant “except Montreal and Vancouver”.

  5. admin Says:

    It’s amazing to me how much people’s perceptions and standards have slipped that 2,750 a game is a “sturdy base.”

  6. Aiden Says:

    It would be nice if you included the stadium capacity for a better picture. Consider that for future updates.

  7. admin Says:

    Jesus, will you stop? How many times are we going to go over this? You want to make a chart, make your own chart and include anything you want.

    ( a ) I don’t have the capacities
    ( b ) Baltimore and Miami, for two, have played in more than one venue this year – how would you like me to handle the capacities in that case?
    ( c ) Nobody but Montreal and Vancouver are playing to a large percentage of capacity. There. Happy now?

  8. ERic Says:

    Hey, Austin got to nearly 50%!;)

    As to the reason for the Aztex improvement, maybe it was hiring Djorn;)

    More seriously, yeah, I do think moving from Nelson to House helped. The whole atmosphere improved a lot, even with little change in attendance. Probably the more important aspect was House being downtown. Even though the other stadium was easier to get to, the whole presentation and impression is better.

    But it’s also possible that we’re seeing a case of ‘winning brings fans’. While there’s more than enough evidence that that argument doesn’t hold water, in this case there might be at least a little something to it.

    It’s also possible that we have an effing weird town here. It was unreal how many bars were advertising the World Cup, and there were more than a few of them that were pretty full for the games.

    Then again, it could all be because of the two peak games. There were an annoying amount of giveaways for those games.

    Guess what? The answer is… a variety of reasons.;) Here’s hoping all those reasons (except for the giveaways) feed another good year in Austin next year. Assuming there’s a league.;)

    Damn. I used way too many winks in that post.

  9. Jason Toon Says:

    “Amazing”? You’re the keeper of the numbers, you can see right there that 2,750 is the middle of the pack in D2 these days. Perceptions have nothing to do with it. Anyway, my point was, even with lousy/nonexistent management and an often terrible team, AC St. Louis managed to get at least 2,000 people to every game. There’s reason for optimism if Ryan Woods has the money to do it right. Of course there are plenty of reasons for pessimism as well, duh.

  10. admin Says:

    My point is that our expectations have gone down to the point where 2,750 being the middle of the pack is seen by some as “solid.”

    It’s not solid. It’s crap.

    We’re not going anywhere as a soccer nation as long as we accept 2,750 a game as being “solid.” Especially in what I’ve been told for eons is such a goddamn incredible soccer town like St. Louis.

  11. Howie Says:

    What would capacity really illustrate? There were only three teams that were ever limited by capacity– Portland, Montreal, and Vancouver. Austin’s House Park has a capacity of 6,000-6,500 according to Wikipedia. With a maximum attendance of 6,051, I’m not sure you can say that their attendance was ever limited by the stadium.

    For the rest of the league, capacity just indicates whether you a 3/4 empty stadium or a 9/10 empty stadium.

  12. John Says:

    Darlington FC would kill for 2,750 a game as MLS would kill for someone to rebuild Darlington’s stadium somewhere in the United States.

    Glenn Danzig owns a cat.

  13. The Aztexan // 2010 Attendance: League Down, Aztex Up Says:

    […] Oct 7, 2010 2010 Attendance: League Down, Aztex Up kenn.com blog — Taking Attendance 10/5/2010: D2 Down 5.5% Nice work by Austin, up almost 26% thanks (in part, I would guess, ERic could set me straight) to […]

  14. Ali Says:

    I’m hearing through my contacts (some random dude on a forum) that CP Baltimore are toast.

  15. admin Says:

    What gave it away? The fact that their coach said they were “broke” halfway through the year, the fact they played all over the area, the fact they couldn’t draw flies or the fact they only had 11 players for the last game?

  16. BocaSounders Says:

    2007 MLS 16,771 2006 MLS 15,502 2005 MLS 15,108
    2003 MLS 14,898 2002 MLS 15,820 2001 MLS 15,050
    1999 MLS 14,282 1998 MLS 14,312 1997 MLS 14,920
    1983 NASL 13,388 1982 NASL 13,156 1981 NASL 13,421
    1979 NASL 14,163 1978 NASL 13,120 1977 NASL 14,998
    1975 NASL 7,597 1974 NASL 7,841 1973 NASL 5,975
    1971 NASL 4,158 1970 NASL 3,129 1969 NASL 3,000

    Seems like the year the league gets that attendance bump is equal the year before, the year during, and the year after a World Cup.

  17. BocaSounders Says:

    I used Divison 1 numbers because they are the most available.

  18. admin Says:

    In the case of 2006 to 2007 in MLS, you know what two big things happened prior to 2007, right? That had nothing whatsoever to do with the World Cup?

  19. BocaSounders Says:

    I believe the biggest problem is not having a stable league with a long enough history to see a trend.
    Give it 5-10 more World Cups and then you might be able to say yes there seems to be a trend and this is where the attendance bump happens.

  20. admin Says:

    No, the biggest problem is that people expect that because there’s a bump in the interest in soccer for a month every four years, that will naturally translate into more people going to MLS games. It hasn’t happened and isn’t likely to happen. I doubt any league in the world sees a bump from the World Cup. Now, a World Cup in which its national team does well when it hasn’t before? Potentially.

    You don’t see a trend? I see a trend. 5-10 more World Cups is 20-40 years. I don’t need 20 years to call this one: there ain’t no World Cup bump in the US.

  21. BocaSounders Says:

    Admin what 2 things are you thinking about?
    Houston/San Jose?

  22. admin Says:

    No, Toronto and Beckham. Both had a big impact on overall MLS attendance.

  23. BocaSounders Says:

    admin for the most part I think you are correct.

    There is no current evidence that shows a significant and consistent bump in attendance, at, before or after a World Cup.

    Houston attendance jumped from 13k in San Jose (2005) to nearly 19k (2006) in its new home.
    You might add that as a 3rd factor for that year?

  24. BocaSounders Says:

    I think a more important question is when and where do you see a team breaking even?
    What do you think would be a “success”?

    Are there too many factors involved to say a Division 2 team can break even if they have their own stadium and average 3.5k +/- something along the lines of a Charleston Battery?

    I am sure that merchandising, ticket prices, soccer clinics, parking, travel expenses etc. are all a major factor but besides those types of things what would be a good attendance target be for a Division 1, 2, 3 etc team?

  25. admin Says:

    There is no one-size-fits-all number.

    Some MLS teams have survived despite poor attendance because of committed ownership willing to absorb losses. Some D2 teams have panicked after one year.

    But through 2008, at least, the vast majority of clubs that survived averaged over 3200 per game, as you can see here. Most below that line were dead as of 2008, though some obviously managed to make it for a few years.

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