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Taking Attendance 11/2/2013: NASL Finishes Up 23%

The North American Soccer League’s third regular season ended tonight and next week’s championship match will feature the team that finished with the fourth-highest points-per-game average across the spring and fall seasons hosting a team that played half a season.

But no matter. There is plenty of reason for optimism in the second division, as the league finished with an average attendance that was 23 percent higher than a year ago. Every returning team except San Antonio increased its per-game average from 2012, but the Scorpions did supposedly turn a profit, so there you are. San Antonio led the league for the second straight year (yes, The World’s Greatest Soccer BrandTM finished second) and the overall league average was the highest in the second division since 2009.

The numbers:

North American Soccer League 2013 G Total Average
San Antonio Scorpions 13 90,178 6,937
New York Cosmos 7 48,011 6,859
Carolina RailHawks 13 61,199 4,708
Atlanta Silverbacks 13 60,796 4,677
Minnesota United FC 13 57,784 4,445
Fort Lauderdale Strikers 13 55,451 4,265
Tampa Bay Rowdies 13 52,578 4,044
FC Edmonton 13 31,677 2,437
NASL TOTAL 98 457,674 4,670


  • The spring season league average was 4,662. The fall season spring average was 4,676.
  • Carolina’s spring average was 4,707. Their fall average was 4,708. That’s consistency. The RailHawks, Rowdies and Strikers were all within a couple of percentage points of their spring average in the fall, while Atlanta (which had nothing to play for in the fall), Minnesota (which moved from the Metrodome north to Blaine) and San Antonio (which went 3-10-1 in the fall) all saw fairly large drop-offs in their fall averages.
  • Minnesota stated they wanted to average 10,000 a game for its indoor schedule and got about half that (5,104 at the HHH, 4,033 outdoors in Blaine). They’re apparently going to play the entire 2014 campaign at the National Sports Center because the Metrodome will be unavailable. Brr.
  • Also looking ahead to 2014, expansionist Indianapolis should average close to 10,000 (if not more) based on their season ticket deposit numbers (and the fact they have a robust staff), but Virginia and Ottawa will make do in temporary digs that will likely limit their crowds.

13 Responses to Taking Attendance 11/2/2013: NASL Finishes Up 23%

  1. Since “the” NASL seems determined to do the split-season thing, why not try a European schedule; that is, play a fall season followed by a spring season, rather than the other way around? I mean, if they really want to distinguish themselves from MLS, this could be one way to do it. (Don’t know if it would actually make the on-field product any better or draw bigger crowds, but…well, it’s a just a thought.)

    Pre-season, I had pegged the Cosmos average at around 8K, so this is a bit of a disappointment. They drew a sellout for the opener (around 12K) but they couldn’t sustain anything near that, ever with a first-place club. Maybe Hofstra just isn’t a good place for a pro soccer team?

  2. Or maybe the Cosmos brand isn’t as hot shit as everybody seems to think it is?

  3. The problem with what you describe is, still, the time frame and how you lay off.

    Let’s say they started the first weekend in August (as their fall season did) and played until about now or a little deeper. Then they take how long off? Three months? Did you see the weather in Edmonton for their home finale? How early in 2014 do you think Ottawa and Edmonton and Minnesota can realistically open, and how many consecutive road games to start a season do you think you can realistically expect those teams to play?

    I understand the split and the spring champion hosting the Soccer Bowl because that gives them date certainty and time to market. I get that. Else there would have been two weeks to sell the game. But the only-one-team-gets-in thing made the last couple of weeks meaningless for most teams.

    And now we have a situation where the team that was demonstrably the best at achieving points over the course of the two half-seasons isn’t in the final because they didn’t win either half. That is on them, I get that, too, you have to win when you are supposed to win.

    But we’re told by purists that the only “true” champion is one that does it over the long haul, not one that does it in a brief playoff window, or in a short sprint. Yet here we have the fourth-best team over the course of the season playing a team that played a half season, and they’re playing each other at the same venue a week after playing each other in the last game of the regular season.

    I get the idea of differentiation. But you’re not competing with MLS. You’re not going to compete with MLS. If MLS wants your markets, they’ll get them. You don’t have the resources to compete with them. If you want to differentiate, all you have to do is have one single-table season, play everybody else exactly twice and have no playoff at all.

  4. “Or maybe the Cosmos brand isn’t as hot shit as everybody seems to think it is?”

    It’s amazing how much Cosmos hate there is on bigsoccer et. al. I’d like to see the Cosmos succeed because (1) I’m an old NASL guy and (2) I can’t *stand* the Red Bulls branding: the logo, the colours, the drink itself, any of it. Bleaugh. (They should’ve re-branded as the Cosmos — or *anything* else, really — when they had the chance. Hell, even MetroStars was better!)

    “But you’re not competing with MLS. You’re not going to compete with MLS. If MLS wants your markets, they’ll get them.”

    Yep. The idea that the NASL is going to be “Division 1A” and force MLS to sue for peace eventually is a fantasy.

  5. I don’t hate the Cosmos. I’m ambivalent about the actual Cosmos.

    I hate Cosmofan. I hate those who insist that the resurrection of a brand whose impact actually lasted from June 1975 to September 1982 would be transformative. I hate those who thought people would flock to the resurrection, even though no one under 35 could possibly be doing anything but posing if they claimed that history as relevant to them.

    Red Bull has absolutely zero to do with the Cosmos. And you do understand why they’re the Red Bulls, right? It isn’t like…oh, never mind.

  6. “And you do understand why they’re the Red Bulls, right?”

    Yeah, yeah, I know. The logo and colours are still ugly, though, so ugly I refuse to wear any of their merch. (And I own something from practically every team that’s ever played any sport ever. Hell, I’m wearing a NY/NJ Hitmen shirt as I type this…!*)

    The Cosmos had a pretty good season, and drew pretty well for a D2 team. A good start, I’d say.

    *Yes, I realize that this is hardly a point in my favour…

  7. I’m not sure Indy will be able to average 10k. I’m hopeful, but it will depend on what they with stadium configuration. Currently Carroll stadium holds about 12k, but only the south side grandstand is decent. The rest of the seating is awful – low to the ground, far from the field because of the track, and only 4 benches deep, really a poor atmosphere for a game. But there is talk of bringing in temporary seating, and a decent north side grandstand could really push attendance figures up.

  8. Oh, infrastructurally, the place is a mess (or was, I haven’t been there in a while).

    If they’ve got 7k season ticket deposits (and potentially more on the way) and they have a guy who knows how to instill confidence in potential ticket buyers and a staff the size that they have, they have a shot.

    Obviously, very, very few D2 teams have ever done 10k for a season. It won’t be easy. But they’re the only ones who I think have a shot to pull it off.

  9. Hofstra isn’t the best place. To get a seat with a seatback, you pay $95. If you are buying tickets for two, then that’s $190. Otherwise you are in bleachers. It’s on frickin Long Island, so if you are coming from the Jersey side like me, then you are paying about $15-20 in tolls too between the GWB and Throgs Neck. I’m a hardcore fan so I will do it, but stuff like that will keep the general public away until they are out of Hofstra. The place lends itself to a decent atmosphere, to be fair, with Banda Cosmos banging away and making all kinds of noise. But if you’re not a hardcore, it is hard to justify

  10. I don’t see Virginia getting much success – they’re going head to head with DCU and have had little vocal support. At the Supporters’ Summit, They were repped by an FO intern. Both us (OKC) and Jacksonville had an SG representative, and we’re a full year and a half from playing.

  11. Those other factors will do more than DCU. DCU won’t be a big detractor. The demographics of Loudoun County are such that they COULD make it work, but they haven’t shown that they have any idea what they are doing.

  12. Hofstra U is convenient to the almost 8 million people who live on Long Island, and can get there without paying a toll. I don’t think the NY Cosmos ever had any pretentions about drawing fans from NJ. Hofstra is centrally located near Nassau Coliseum. The only thing missing is direct LIRR access. Besides, there is some history attached to the Cosmos playing at Hofstra, where they spent several seasons in the pre-Pele years.

  13. …and which has zero relevance to today’s desirable fan demographic.

    Just as telling someone there is a game is not the same thing as selling them a ticket to that game, putting a team near a bunch of people is not a guarantee that many (or any) of those people will show up, regularly or otherwise.


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