For the first time since 2005, average attendance at Major League Soccer games dropped ever-so-slightly in 2008. The average of 16,459 was slightly off from last year’s 16,770. Below are the teams ranked by percentage increase in average attendance over 2007:
(San Jose, obviously, didn’t have a 2007 – but their 2008 figure, split between Santa Clara and Oakland, was almost identical to their last season in the league, in 2005 in Spartan Stadium.)
- Total attendance was a record (which makes sense – with a record number of teams) – almost 3.5 million.
- LA had the biggest increase, which on one hand is odd because they were horrid, but on the other hand makes sense because you had a full season of Whatsisname.
- There were modest gains and losses in almost every market but Dallas, where the 14% drop was the biggest in the league (not the first time Dallas’ average has dropped quite a bit, but they had fewer excuses this time and the one they used – most games being on TV – is ludicrous).
- Kansas City’s average was off slightly, but they moved to a much smaller temporary yard and filled it consistently. Supposedly they’re doing pretty well in keeing the integrity of their ticket pricing (something that was not the case years ago) and, obviously, atmosphere is much improved over Arrowhead.
- I’m concerned about Colorado.
- Next year is obviously very important for Salt Lake, though, financially and aesthetically, they should be in much better shape. Their second-game-new-stadium attendance is a bit troubling, and their first playoff game is at 4pm on a Saturday, so we won’t have a real accurate picture of what RSL can do for a while yet.
- Did I mention I’m concerned about Colorado? Great stadium. Good location. I like the market. I just don’t know what they’re doing there.
- Galaxy road games (which averaged 28k) stoked the leaguewide average by about 6%. But only nine of the top 25 crowds in 2008 were LA visiting (13 were Galaxy home games, though, meaning 22 of the 25 top crowds in the league this year featured LA). Galaxy road games ranged from 46,754 in New York to 18,713 in Colorado. Becks missed only two road games (at TorontoÂ because of an England call-up andÂ at HoustonÂ because of yellow card accumulation) and three home games (all because of national team duty).
- I would expect Seattle to do well in 2009. I don’t know if it’ll be 20k or 25k (I’m sure it’ll be very big early), but it should be a positive. Salt Lake will have a full year in their yard (but they’ll have to work at it). Colorado needs to stop the bleeding. New York may not get into their new yard until late 2009, and a lame duck year probably won’t be good for them. All in all, I’d just make a guess that 2009’s average will be slightly over 2008’s. Not leaps and bounds, but an increase, which would be great, all things considered.