Taking Attendance 7/22/2013: (More Or Less) Final PDL Numbers

The Premier Development League season ended yesterday and the playoffs begin tomorrow evening. With about 87% of precincts reporting, here are the attendance figures for the amateur league regarded by some as the fourth level of the unofficial North American soccer pyramid for 2013 (as always, standard disclaimers apply and additions/corrections are always welcome):

Team G Total Avg. Med. High Low
Des Moines Menace 7 21,961 3,137 2,971 3,544 2,877
Fresno Fuego 7 19,785 2,826 2,572 4,617 1,859
Portland Timbers U-23s 7 17,106 2,444 2,028 5,897 364
Carolina Dynamo #5 8,897 1,779 1,867 1,889 1,432
Victoria Highlanders FC 7 11,462 1,637 1,379 2,347 1,206
Austin Aztex 7 10,063 1,438 1,272 2,111 1,097
Ventura County Fusion 7 9,474 1,353 1,117 2,645 817
Oklahoma City 7 8,499 1,214 1,177 1,578 896
Forest City London 7 8,024 1,146 1,060 1,697 527
BYU Cougars 7 7,952 1,136 976 1,751 681
Western Mass Pioneers 7 7,404 1,058 1,011 1,743 150
West Texas Sockers 7 6,765 966 925 1,458 485
Long Island Rough Riders *6 4,941 824 548 1,842 407
FC Tucson 7 5,599 800 874 1,061 227
Thunder Bay Chill 7 5,595 799 763 973 644
Michigan Bucks 7 4,808 687 612 1,286 374
Laredo Heat 7 4,306 615 549 1,024 197
Kitsap Pumas #5 3,061 612 502 986 420
K-W United FC ^3 1,810 603 400 1,080 330
Mississippi Brilla 7 3,945 564 592 882 361
Virginia Beach Piranhas 7 3,877 554 574 806 263
Sounders FC U23 7 3,769 538 248 1,311 173
Ocean City Nor’easters *6 3,199 533 528 609 463
Panama City Beach Pirates 7 3,201 457 431 811 228
SW Florida Adrenaline #5 1,998 400 382 536 316
Reading United AC 7 2,703 386 312 607 147
Houston Dutch Lions 7 2,650 379 400 450 300
St. Louis Lions 7 2,511 359 321 652 210
SC United Bantams *6 1,950 325 300 500 200
CFC Azul 7 2,196 314 342 434 142
El Paso Patriots 7 2,150 307 210 630 100
Northern Virginia Royals #5 1,475 295 315 365 210
Ocala Stampede *6 1,685 281 299 365 186
Ottawa Fury 7 1,793 256 222 528 100
WSA Winnipeg 7 1,730 247 150 650 50
North Sound SeaWolves FC 7 1,640 234 75 645 65
Vermont Voltage &2 411 206 206 300 111
So. Cal. Seahorses ^3 600 200 200 200 200
Kansas City Brass #5 942 188 183 257 128
Real Boston Rams 7 1,301 186 205 268 74
NJ LUSO Rangers FC ^3 545 182 180 300 65
Baltimore Bohemians 7 1,249 178 153 304 100
Real Colorado Foxes 7 1,150 164 150 300 100
Jersey Express 7 1,127 161 125 277 95
SWVa King’s Warriors 7 1,068 153 128 285 70
NY Magic – F.A. Euro #5 730 146 130 250 100
GPS Portland Phoenix #5 725 145 125 200 125
Toronto Lynx 7 1,000 143 150 250 50
VSI Tampa Bay FC &2 278 139 139 200 78
West Virginia Chaos 7 965 138 120 250 50
Washington Crossfire 7 897 128 110 259 75
Orlando City U23 $1 127 127 127 127 127
Chicago Inferno #5 527 105 100 161 79
OC Blues Strikers FC #5 525 105 45 200 40
Springfield Demize 7 719 103 98 136 86
River City Rovers 7 638 91 103 126 50
Seacoast United Phantoms 7 580 83 75 125 50
Vancouver Whitecaps U-23 7 569 81 77 117 53
Westchester Flames 7 465 66 60 85 50
LA Misioneros FC *6 325 54 50 100 25
Chicago Fire #5 206 41 30 100 6
Central Jersey Spartans 7 245 35 32 55 25
IMG Academy Bradenton 6 160 27 20 60 15
Ft.L Schulz Academy &1 15 15 15 15 15
PDL TOTAL 388 228,073 588 300 5,897 6


* = missing 1 game
# = missing 2 games
^ = missing 4 games
& = missing 5 games
$ = missing 6 games

NOTES:

  • I’m missing 59 data points, or about 14% of the league’s games, so these numbers may change a bit by the time I am able to track the rest down (if that’s possible, which it likely isn’t). But most won’t change significantly.
  • Des Moines again edged Fresno for the PDL attendance crown, though both were down in average from a year ago. The Menace and Fuego have each been in the top three (and have often traded off the top couple of spots) since 2007. Fresno’s tickets are free through a sponsorship by a local radio station.
  • The biggest gainers, percentage-wise, were K-W United FC (formerly the Hamilton FC Rage), which went from 133 a game in 2012 to 603 a game this year (in a limited sample – I’m missing several of their games), the Houston Dutch Lions (nee Texas Dutch Lions), who went from 90 a game to 379 a game, the NJ LUSO Rangers FC (last yea’rs New Jersey Rangers), up from 69 a game to 182 (with several missing games) and Forest City London, who saw their crowds go from 507 a game last year to 1,146 a game this year.
  • Big drops included the Central Jersey Spartans (down 81%), Seacoast United Phantoms (down 58%) and the Baltimore Bohemians down 55%.
  • On a side note, I would love to see the Seacoast United Phantoms play the SC United Bantams, wouldn’t you?
  • The Chicago Fire announced what is probably the lowest-ever PDL attendance figure of 6 on July 17 when the Michigan Bucks played a 10:00 am match at Toyota Park. I can’t imagine anyone actually bothering to announce an attendance figure of 6, but they did it, so, kudos.
  • The best debut by a new PDL team was Oklahoma City (the site of a skirmish between USL Pro and the NASL which is just heating up), who averaged 1,214 per game in their inaugural season.
  • Big crowds this season occurred in Portland (where the Timbers drew 5,897 for a school day game against North Sound on May 31) and Fresno (4,617 for BYU on May 9), but Des Moines had all of its crowds in the top 12 for the league this year, with a high of 3,544 and a low of 2,877.
  • FC Tucson drew a team-record 1,022 on July 13 for LA Misioneros, then beat that a week later with a 1,061 crowd against BYU. Tucson actually came close to outdrawing their USL Pro cousins, Phoenix FC, who played Friday night in newly-downsized Sun Devil Soccer Stadium against Richmond and drew 1,084. Tucson moves into a soccer-specific stadium of its own next May.
  • Canadian teams had slightly a slightly higher overall average than US-based teams (615 to 584), but the difference isn’t much to get worked up about. London (1,146) is the best draw among Canadian teams, with Thunder Bay second at just under 800 a game.
  • The league itself was up about 100 people a game (a pretty significant percentage), but the 588 average for the games I have ( a ) would probably drop a bit with the missing games plugged in and ( b ) is right around the historical average. This is what the PDL draws, folks.

7 comments on “Taking Attendance 7/22/2013: (More Or Less) Final PDL Numbers

  1. ClaytonA says:

    Just a friendly note that Victoria, BC is also located in Canada – I think the gist of your comment remains the same (slightly higher, not by much).

  2. admin says:

    Correct, Victoria is the Canadian leader. I plead caffeine deprivation. Thanks!

  3. RMc says:

    Des Moines had drawn solid numbers for several years now. Is there any talk of the Menace “stepping up” to D3 or even D2?

  4. admin says:

    Not that I am aware of.

    Some clubs are content to be just where they are. If their business model is working as it is, why add more expense?

  5. Howie says:

    The Menace talked about moving up to whatever the second division was at the time (A-League?) about a decade ago when they were attempting to build a 6k soccer-specific stadium in a DSM suburb. At that point, they were averaging 4k or above for several straight years. However, the city surprisingly backed out late in the process, the stadium fell through, and they were never able to find a new partner. They’re playing a Texas-sized high school stadium right now, but I don’t think they’d want to try the high school thing in USL (I know that Charlotte and Dayton do it, but Charlotte is an outlier and Dayton isn’t really a model I’d follow).

    They’re actually almost too successful in the PDL to move up. They’ve been able to draw strong crowds to watch college players in the off-season, but there is probably an upper limit to what you could draw for soccer in DSM, and they’re probably pretty close to it. I don’t think they could get 3500 to show up for 14 games (especially if it came with a price increase). The average fan isn’t going to notice the increase in level of play.

    FWIW, this was the worst attendance average for the Menace since 2001.

  6. RMc says:

    That’s an excellent point; you can’t double the length of the schedule and jack up the ticket prices (which you’d have to do for a pro team) and expect *bigger* attendance numbers. Somewhere around 2,000-2,500 might be realistic, which is about average for the USL (not counting Orlando and the MLS Reserve games). But it’s probably not going to get much better than that, as you say; we’re talking about Des Moines here, the 72nd largest TV market in the country. (Although they *are* bigger than Rochester…)

  7. […] The numbers are only part of the story. In the PDL some clubs don’t really care what they draw (Crossfire) and others market themselves as professional (Kitsap). So the numbers are what they are, bad for those without a front office and better for those who have drawing fans as a priority. Here are the 2013 home averages, as posted by Kenn.com: […]

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