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Taking Attendance 5/6/2013: The Pros

Now that every professional (men’s and women’s) team in MLS, the NASL, USL Pro and the NWSL has had at least one home match, we can take a look at the attendance figures for each team in the various leagues through games of May 5. (As always, corrections are welcome.)

Seattle Sounders 3 117,471 39,157
Montreal Impact 4 100,512 25,128
Los Angeles Galaxy 5 105,156 21,031
Portland Timbers 5 103,370 20,674
Vancouver Whitecaps 4 77,657 19,414
Sporting KC 5 96,462 19,292
Toronto FC 5 96,439 19,288
Houston Dynamo 5 92,643 18,529
Real Salt Lake 5 90,764 18,153
Philadelphia Union 4 69,375 17,344
New York Red Bulls 4 68,213 17,053
FC Dallas 5 79,683 15,937
DC United 4 58,474 14,619
New England Revolution 3 40,882 13,627
Colorado Rapids 5 66,843 13,369
Columbus Crew 4 52,931 13,233
Chicago Fire 4 48,335 12,084
San Jose Earthquakes 6 62,699 10,450
Chivas USA 5 40,227 8,045
MLS TOTAL 85 1,468,136 17,272
San Antonio Scorpions 2 15,230 7,615
Minnesota Stars FC 3 15,714 5,238
Atlanta Silverbacks 2 10,402 5,201
Fort Lauderdale Strikers 2 9,764 4,882
Carolina RailHawks 2 8,794 4,397
Tampa Bay Rowdies 3 11,219 3,740
FC Edmonton 1 921 921
NASL TOTAL 15 72,044 4,803
Orlando City 4 31,660 7,915
Rochester Rhinos 1 5,963 5,963
Pittsburgh Riverhounds 1 4,000 4,000
Charleston Battery 2 7,808 3,904
Wilmington Hammerheads 2 5,955 2,978
Richmond Kickers 4 10,066 2,517
Phoenix FC 5 11,928 2,386
Dayton Dutch Lions *1 1,436 1,436
Harrisburg City Islanders 2 2,769 1,385
Los Angeles Blues *4 2,637 659
Charlotte Eagles 4 2,373 593
VSI Tampa FC 4 2,264 566
MLS Reserve Teams 3 10,373 3,458
USL PRO TOTAL 37 99,232 2,682
*=Missing one game
Portland Thorns FC 1 16,479 16,479
FC Kansas City 2 10,848 5,424
Washington Spirit 3 12,682 4,227
Western NY Flash 2 6,192 3,096
Boston Breakers 2 5,747 2,874
Seattle Reign FC 1 2,618 2,618
Sky Blue FC 1 2,611 2,611
Chicago Red Stars 2 4,110 2,055
NWSL TOTAL 14 61,287 4,378


  • MLS, which drew six million fans for the first time ever in 2012, is on pace to do slightly below that (if every team holds its average for the rest of the season), but at 17,272 and playing to about 83% capacity, its numbers are healthier than ever overall. There are still trouble spots (Chivas USA, obviously, but to a lesser extent, Colorado, Columbus and Chicago), but the bright spots are very, very bright.
  • Starting the MLS season earlier than ever may be something they want to re-think (if it’s mathematically possible, given all the constraints). This year’s March average (17,803) was well off last year’s record 20,783 and below 2011 (19,225) and 2010 (17,992). The season began on March 2 this year, a week earlier than last year and almost two weeks earlier than the year before. I don’t know if there’s a strong correlation (I’d have to delve deeper into it) but those are the numbers. (Incidentally, the April numbers were right about in line with the last few years.)
  • Things are looking up in the early going in the Division II North American Soccer League, with strong showings in Minnesota (though not quite as strong as they wanted), the newly-rebranded United FC is 25% ahead of the former Stars’ numbers from a year ago, when they opened at the Metrodome and then moved back outdoors. They’re playing all but one of their Spring Championship matches indoors this time around.
  • In fact, every NASL team but Edmonton (where new stands are finally being constructed at Clarke Stadium) and San Antonio is up year-over-year and the league itself is up about 5%. (In the Scorpions’ case, they couldn’t match last year’s numbers no matter what, as their lovely new yard has a much smaller capacity than the high school football stadium the team played in last year.)
  • Orlando continues to set the pace in USL Pro (though their MLS chances took a hit late last week). The Lions drew club regular-season records of 9,140 on April 19 and then 9,589 eight days later (and had bad weather kibosh what could have been a couple of other great crowds). While mainstays Charleston, Richmond and Wilmington will be fine, there are troubling signs in Los Angeles (as usual) and Tampa Bay, while Phoenix has lost half its audience (and its club president) in its first month of play.
  • Incidentally, the league numbers you will see for USL Pro throughout this season will include the “crossover” games against MLS Reserve League teams. There have been three so far, with Salt Lake drawing a high of 8,263 for their game against Phoenix, Portland getting 1,803 for VSI Tampa Bay and Colorado getting 307 for Harrisburg’s visit. Without the MLS Reserves, the USL Pro average is 2,614 at the moment.
  • The latest attempt at women’s pro soccer, the NWSL, is 14 games in and Portland, Washington and Kansas City have drawn healthy (in Portland’s case, super-healthy) crowds. Boston’s off its former league-leading pace, but the big disappointment was Seattle, which drew just 2,618 for its inaugural against Sky Blue FC Saturday night. The Sounders Women (a different club altogether) led the W-League in attendance last year thanks in part to a star-studded roster, but the Reign is finding the going a bit tougher so far. Saturday will be Western New York’s first Saturday home game with Abby Wambach in the lineup, so we’ll see what happens there.
  • And, in case you’re wondering, the PDL season began over the weekend, with the Victoria Highlanders drawing 1,804 for their home opener, a 3-0 win over Kitsap. But LA Misioneros reported 100 for their match against Fresno and the awkwardly-named OC Blues Strikers FC (the former Pali Blues) drew 40 for its opener against Ventura County. The W-League season starts this weekend.

5 Responses to Taking Attendance 5/6/2013: The Pros

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  2. I regards to Minnesota; their attendance is way up, but I would guess the cost of renting the dome is much more then the cost of renting NSC. I don’t know what the break even point is, but I would suspect they need bigger crowds to justify the cost.

    Anyway, the dome is set to be demolished next February. What will Minnesota do then?

  3. I would imagine you are correct, yes. I am going to guess the rent on the Metrodome surpasses that of the NSC. (Some enterprising Minnesotan might file an FOI request on that, now that SCOTUS has ruled states can deny requests from non-residents.)

    That said, they have an owner for whom money is literally no object. These people obviously all have limits, but his are higher.

    And, yes, they have been asked about what to do next spring when the Metrodome is unavailable. See McGuire’s response here:

  4. […] Here is a post on everything attendance, and not just […]

  5. Orlando si, Chivas no!


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