Taking Attendance: Better Get Indoors 1/28/2013
*Missing one game.
#Missing four games.
Right away, you’ll notice that the Baltimore Blast is in danger of not leading its league in average announced attendance for the first time since 2003-2004. With Rochester drawing a league-high 10,320 on Sunday against Missouri (the biggest indoor crowd in more than five years), the Lancers put a bit more space between themselves and the second-place Blast. How much space is up for debate, as Rochester’s January 1 game against Baltimore still doesn’t have an official attendance figure attached to it.
The Blast is down just under three percent in average announced attendance compared to the same number of home games as a year ago, but they and the Wichita Wings (whose Hartman Arena is pictured above) are the only clubs looking at a decline year-over-year. The Wings, who used to pack the Kansas Coliseum back in the original MISL days, struggle to get fans to come to their cozy, modern arena (they’re down 26 percent over the same number of home games as a year ago), but when they do come, they usually come in nice, round numbers. The Wings have announced crowds of 2,600, 2,500, 2,200, 4,200, 2,500, 2,800, 3,000, 3,100, 2,300, 2,475 and 2,500. Believe them at your own risk.
But that’s nothing compared to the latest group to try to make a go of it in Chicago, where the Soul is surprisingly winning games (they’re 8-12 with six games to play, even after Sunday’s loss in Milwaukee), but not surprisingly not drawing fans. Despite their owner’s prediction that they’d have three 4,000+ crowds in January, the Soul has stopped announcing crowd figures and by the looks of things, that’s just as well. The four games they have announced crowds for have averaged 2,418, a league low, and the actual numbers are surely south of that. (Though they’d be doing great if the people who estimate their goalkeeper’s saves estimated their crowds.)
Everybody else is up in average attendance year-over-year. Syracuse is up 17 percent, Missouri is up 19 percent and Milwaukee is up 20 percent and riding what is now the longest winning streak in the indoor game at 14. (In case you’re wondering, the longest winning streak by an indoor team actually playing against full-time professionals is 19 by the 1980-81 New York Arrows. The Wave can beat that on February 24 in Rochester if they keep winning.)
If nothing else, the MISL seems to have stabilized, which is a key to at least getting the indoor game some traction. Rochester looks like a great find as a market. Baltimore and Milwaukee are the only clubs that have been around for more than three seasons, but Missouri seems solid, Syracuse is improving and if they can figure out what’s going wrong in Wichita and reverse that trend, they’d have a good base. With St. Louis rumored (as they have been for years) to be potentially getting a new team, perhaps there’s hope.