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.)
|THE MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER|
|Los Angeles Galaxy||5||105,156||21,031|
|Real Salt Lake||5||90,764||18,153|
|New York Red Bulls||4||68,213||17,053|
|New England Revolution||3||40,882||13,627|
|San Jose Earthquakes||6||62,699||10,450|
|NORTH AMERICAN SOCCER LEAGUE|
|San Antonio Scorpions||2||15,230||7,615|
|Minnesota Stars FC||3||15,714||5,238|
|Fort Lauderdale Strikers||2||9,764||4,882|
|Tampa Bay Rowdies||3||11,219||3,740|
|Dayton Dutch Lions||*1||1,436||1,436|
|Harrisburg City Islanders||2||2,769||1,385|
|Los Angeles Blues||*4||2,637||659|
|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|
|NATIONAL WOMEN’S SOCCER LEAGUE|
|Portland Thorns FC||1||16,479||16,479|
|FC Kansas City||2||10,848||5,424|
|Western NY Flash||2||6,192||3,096|
|Seattle Reign FC||1||2,618||2,618|
|Sky Blue FC||1||2,611||2,611|
|Chicago Red Stars||2||4,110||2,055|
- 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.