Taking Attendance 6/24/2014: Amateur Hour

While the world’s greatest players are on the big stage at the FIFA World CupTM, future stars are plying their trade in the Premier Development League. Here’s our first look at attendance numbers for this league, which operates under the United Soccer Leagues umbrella. (All numbers are through last night’s game. Additions and corrections are always welcome.)

Team G Total Avg.
Fresno Fuego 6 13,742 2,290
Carolina Dynamo 6 11,056 1,843
Austin Aztex 3 5,113 1,704
Ventura County Fusion 4 6,035 1,509
Portland Timbers U-23s 3 4,175 1,392
BYU Cougars 4 5,504 1,376
Victoria Highlanders FC 4 5,094 1,274
FC Tucson 5 5,307 1,061
Midland/Odessa Sockers FC 6 5,869 978
Albuquerque Sol F.C. 5 4,098 820
Western Mass Pioneers 4 2,772 693
Mississippi Brilla 4 2,732 683
Long Island Rough Riders 6 4,077 680
Michigan Bucks 4 2,538 635
Forest City London 5 3,116 623
Thunder Bay Chill 6 3,691 615
Laredo Heat 4 2,369 592
Ocala Stampede 3 1,579 526
Sounders FC U23 5 2,353 471
Lane United FC 5 2,317 463
Kitsap Pumas 6 2,756 459
Chicago Inferno 2 749 375
Las Vegas Mobsters 3 1,125 375
Reading United AC 4 1,440 360
SW Florida Adrenaline 1 321 321
Toronto Lynx 3 950 317
F.A. Euro 1 300 300
Vermont Voltage 3 900 300
San Jose Earthquakes 2 585 293
St. Louis Lions 4 1,082 271
Baltimore Bohemians 4 1,068 267
Panama City Beach Pirates 3 758 253
CFC Azul 4 1,000 250
GPS Portland Phoenix 1 250 250
Northern Virginia Royals 3 736 245
Cincinnati Dutch Lions 4 948 237
Real Boston Rams 4 904 226
LA Misioneros FC 3 600 200
Southern California Seahorses 2 400 200
Real Colorado Foxes 3 570 190
WSA Winnipeg 4 710 178
River City Rovers 1 175 175
Southern West Virginia King’s Warriors 3 490 163
Springfield Demize 3 464 155
Seacoast United Phantoms 5 750 150
Jersey Express 4 575 144
West Virginia Chaos 6 830 138
Houston Dutch Lions 3 400 133
Puget Sound Gunners FC 3 400 133
Montreal Impact U23 3 350 117
Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23 4 436 109
NJ LUSO Parma 5 500 100
Pittsburgh Riverhounds U23 3 300 100
Floridians F.C. 2 197 99
IMG Academy Bradenton 5 490 98
Washington Crossfire 4 320 80
Westchester Flames 5 400 80
Chicago Fire U-23 3 210 70
OC Pateadores Blues 5 245 49
Des Moines Menace 0 0 0
K-W United FC 0 0 0
Ocean City Nor’easters 0 0 0
Orlando City U23 0 0 0
SC United Bantams 0 0 0
PDL TOTAL 223 119,221 535

NOTES:

  • Every team has played at least one home game, but a handful of clubs (including perennial attendance leader or contender Des Moines) have not released any attendance figures for their home games to this point. Some of the missing 39 data points (to date) will eventually turn up, but some never will. It’s the nature of the beast.
  • Fresno (whose tickets are all free to fans through a sponsorship buy) leads the usual suspects at the top of the charts, though they’re down about 500 a game from last year’s final average. Austin, which recently announced a move to USL Pro for 2015, is up slightly from their 2013 average. Victoria and Western Mass are well off last year’s numbers.
  • Eleven clubs averaged more than 1,000 fans per game in 2013, and eight are there right now (with Des Moines probable). But there is still a third or so of the league that can barely get to 200 a game.
  • The Chicago Fire U-23 actually announced an attendance of 16 – sixteen- for their June 16 match against Toronto. The season high to this point is the 3,627 Fresno pulled for a match against San Jose on May 23.
  • As for new clubs, Albuquerque (820 per game) and Lane United (463) lead a struggling lot. Expansion teams in Las Vegas (375) and Cincinnati (237) and developmental teams for San Jose (293), Montreal (117) and Pittsburgh (100) are having varying degrees of success.
  • The current league average (535, with some data points missing) is right in line with the historical average.

22 comments on “Taking Attendance 6/24/2014: Amateur Hour

  1. Andrew says:

    High crowd was actually Portland Timbers U-23 with 8207 vs Puget Sound on May 30: http://www.uslpdl.com/scripts/runisa.dll?M2:gp::72014+Elements/Display+E+47116+News/Display/+13598694+66628139+15327

  2. RMc says:

    The Chicago Fire U-23 actually announced an attendance of 16 – sixteen- for their June 16 match against Toronto.

    Good thing they didn’t play on June 1.

    Any chance for NPSL numbers? I’d like to know how Detroit FC is doing.

  3. Andrew says:

    Albuquerque’s attendance stats weren’t included in either Tucson match for whatever reason, but here’s their attendance records (URLs included for figures that aren’t published on PDL box scores):

    May 24: Midland/Odessa (home opener!): 1318
    June 6: FC Tucson : 1022 (https://www.facebook.com/abqsolfc/posts/574339782663173)
    June 7: FC Tucson : 936 (https://www.facebook.com/abqsolfc/posts/574808809282937)
    June 13: Real Colorado : 756
    June 14: Real Colorado : 602
    June 19: Laredo Heat: 400

    Average attendance : 839

    Doesn’t really change the final figures much (and the downward trend is very concerning), but there it is.

  4. Andrew says:

    Thank you for putting this together! I was actually considering doing the same thing to see how Albuquerque was doing compared to the PDL average (turns out, pretty good, except for the downward trend).

  5. KT says:

    I have tried on the NPSL, I really have. I reached out to every team in the league durng the offseason and got maybe 20 data points total. And this season, it has been slim pickings.

    • admin says:

      I saw earlier today that the game had been postponed.

      It’s rare that a PDL team folds midseason. But it’s now 1-1 with the NPSL.

  6. KT says:

    Des Moines has now come through with a couple of figures and THEY lead the PDL attendance charts. Andrew’s contribution of Portland puts them second (despite a crowd of 130 for one of their games) and Fresno falls to third.

    So the top ten are:

    Des Moines – 3,313
    Portland – 3,096
    Fresno – 2,290
    Carolina – 1,843
    Austin – 1,704
    Ventura County – 1,509
    BYU – 1,437
    Victoria – 1,274
    Tucson – 1,061
    Midland/Odessa – 978

    That would be altogether reasonable if there weren’t half the league’s teams struggling to get 250 a game.

  7. RMc says:

    Des Moines has drawn great figures for over a decade now; couldn’t they support a pro team? You’d have to find an owner with deep pockets, of course, and there’s no proof a city that pays a few bucks to see amateurs will pony up $20 a pop to see professionals, but…you’d think the USL and the NASL would be very interested.

    You’ve shown on this blog instances of D2 and D3 cities successfully “moving up” to MLS; what about amateur cities/clubs turning pro?

  8. KT says:

    It has not gone well.

    http://www.kenn.com/the_blog/?p=4440

    And, no, Des Moines would have no real imperative to turn pro. You’ve just answered your own question. “You’d have to find an owner with deep pockets, of course, and there’s no proof a city that pays a few bucks to see amateurs will pony up $20 a pop to see professionals, but…”

    Well, yeah, other than the fact I’m middle-aged, grey and not rich, you’d think Alessandra Ambrosio would totally be into me.

    Des Moines obviously can be successful where they are. They’re one of the longest-running teams in America. They draw well. They matter to their community. They make the occasional Open Cup run. What would be their rationale for losing a bunch of money, just to say, “We’re professional?”

  9. RMc says:

    What would be their rationale for losing a bunch of money, just to say, “We’re professional?”

    Well, maybe they would (horrors!) actually make money at the minor pro level. How big do crowds need to be for a club to stay in business? Clubs like Charleston, Wilmington and Richmond have been around since the 90s, and Des Moines has outdrawn them most of that time. So, it probably could be done…if they were interested in doing so.

    And buck up…maybe Alessandra is into guys who keep track of soccer attendances. ;)

  10. RMc says:

    …and another thing…

    I blithely compared the Des Moines vs. USL PRO ticket price ranges as being between “a few bucks” and $20. After actually looking it, it doesn’t look like there’s that much difference at all, to wit:

    Des Moines $9

    Wilmington $8-12
    Charleston $10-18
    Charlotte $10
    Richmond $12

    Hm.

  11. admin says:

    It’s not just crowds.

    Charleston has a rich owner and a revenue-capturing stadium. Wilmington didn’t (and might not) make money, as evidenced by THEM GOING AWAY IN 2010. And I doubt seriously Richmond makes money, but I do believe they don’t spend a whole lot.

    Look at it this way: whatever Des Moines’ financial position is (let’s say it’s pretty good, as they are still around), now let us add significant player wages and workers compensation insurance costs (which are currently zero) and travel costs (which are much higher in D3 than the PDL) and increased staffing per the USSF standards.

    You think they are going to generate enough extra revenue to cover that? How? Are they going to all of a sudden draw 5,000 a game (when almost no D3 teams have ever done that) and charge more for tickets and get more corporate support in a market the size of Des Moines?

    It would appear as though THEY think the numbers don’t work for them, right? Because THEY HAVEN’T DONE IT. In fact, I don’t believe it has even been brought up since their plans for an SSS several years ago didn’t come to fruition.

    You act as if making money at this is just so easy. Horror this. Use your head.

  12. KT says:

    Des Moines doesn’t even have 600,000 people in its metro. Only Wilmington and Harrisburg are smaller metros.

    In the PDL this year, they have to make five road trips: Springfield, St. Louis, Thunder Bay, Winnipeg and Springfield again. They can bus to three of those five. That wouldn’t be possible in D3. They’d make 12-14 road trips and they’d probably almost all be flights.

    And they likely would not draw significantly better than they currently draw.

    The economics simply don’t work for Des Moines. It would make zero sense for them. Especially at $9 a ticket. Wilmington, Charleston, Charlotte (a ministry) and Richmond can’t charge much more than they charge. But Sacramento can. ($21-$100.) Oklahoma City has $7 lawn seats, but also $18-24 premium seats. Orlando’s cheapest ticket is $19.

  13. RMc says:

    You act as if making money at this is just so easy. Horror this. Use your head.

    Calm down, and stop being such a pain in the ass.

    I never said it was easy, I said it was possible…maybe. Des Moines has a pro baseball team and a pro hockey team, so a pro soccer team — especially in a market whose current club draws better than many pro teams — isn’t completely crazy, is it? Wouldn’t the USL covet such a market?

    No, I don’t know all the financial numbers for a minor pro soccer team, and I suspect you don’t, either.

  14. Matt says:

    Ocala’s attendance numbers are accurate, but unfortunate. What do I mean? We had over 1100 people at our home opener, great crowd, great weather. The next 4 consecutive home games this year have been marred by absolutely horrible weather, lightning delays / etc… the last home game had an S20 game followed by PDL and we had 5, countem 5 lightning delays in one night.

    Its hard to get a consistent crowd when its raining and lightning like made for an hour before kickoff. I guess that’s what we get for being in Central Florida in the summer, but this year has been as up and down as you can possibly imagine on the attendance numbers and its been fueled by weather more than anything.

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