The Spring half of the North American Soccer League’s 2013 season ended last night with high drama. The league’s attendance numbers are on the rise as well, as we step outside the normal all-leagues update for a look at the Division II loop’s figures from the first half (the “Diff” column is the percentage increase or decrease over the same number of home games – 6 – from the 2012 season):
The big story is Minnesota, obviously, which was left nearly for dead last year and now is second in the league in attendance (despite being a sixth-place team – so could we please stop with the “If you win, you’ll draw” meme?). They drew 6,507 to their final spring home match (and first this year outdoors at the National Sports Center in Blaine).
But everybody in the league is up significantly (except last year’s leader, San Antonio, for various reasons), even bottom-feeding Edmonton. Carolina was another club thought dead a while back, but they’ve come back nicely. And remember when Atlanta’s fans were so pissed about them selling an Open Cup home match that they were never going to come back? Yeah, good times.
The Fall season will see the New York Cosmos injected into the mix. With six of their seven Fall home games on Saturdays and with a marketing push that is sure to be expensive and ubiquitous, you’d imagine New York will draw very well at home. Some of the nostalgia teams have already started marketing the return of the Cosmos as if it really is 1979 again, so they will likely be a good road draw (at least the first time through; after that, Danny Szetela will have to be the drawing card).
In order to break the all-time record for average announced attendance by a Division II league (5,164, set in 2008 by USL-1), if the seven spring teams hold their averages for the fall campaign, the Cosmos have to average 7,170 at home. That’s just math, but the big takeaway is that, at least at the gate (and having weeded out low-achievers from the past, thanks, USSF), Division II appears as healthy as or healthier than ever. That’s a good thing.