Archive for the ‘attendance’ tag
We are truly living in a golden age for professional outdoor soccer in this country. All three men’s professional levels of the game set new average attendance records this season, with Major League Soccer drawing 19,149 a game, USL Pro breaking the 3,000-a-game mark and now, the North American Soccer League setting a new record for Division II attendance in the modern era. The fourth-year NASL broke the former record of 5,164 per game set by the USL First Division in 2008 by averaging 5,521 a game.
First, the numbers:
|San Antonio Scorpions||14||94,562||6,754||6,721||8,313||5,594|
|New York Cosmos||14||69,469||4,962||4,457||8,565||3,091|
|Tampa Bay Rowdies||14||63,700||4,550||4,322||7,003||2,565|
|Ft. Lauderdale Strikers||13||47,138||3,626||3,109||5,756||2,409|
Now, some context: A large part of this gain is from the expansion club in Indianapolis, which became only the fifth lower-division organization in modern history to average more than 10,000 fans per game. Selling out every home game, Indy Eleven averaged 10,465, the highest Division II average since Montreal’s swan song in the second flight in 2011. Without Indianapolis, the NASL average was 4,948 – still an improvement over last year’s 4,670 average, but not a record. Still, there is cause for optimism in the second division, as, outside of Edmonton and the nascent Oklahoma City and Virginia clubs, there don’t appear to be a lot of organizations teetering on the brink of disappearing.
Compared to last year’s numbers, Minnesota was way up (82%, thanks in part to a big doubleheader, but they did draw consistently well all year for their other games as well), Edmonton had the benefit of its expanded stadium for the full year and was up 39% (still not good enough) and Tampa Bay was up 12.5%. That’s the good news. San Antonio and Carolina dropped slightly (2.6% and 3.3%, respectively), but Atlanta (where the Silverbacks may be on their way out) was off 13% and Ft. Lauderdale (despite making it to the league semifinals) was off 15%.
And then there’s the vaunted New York Cosmos. Drawing a season-high 8,565 to their home finale on October 25 helped keep their second-year drop from being worse, but their average announced attendance was off an alarming 28% from their maiden season. They may be counting on 2015 signing Raul to boost the numbers next season, but he turns 38 next June and will be playing a lot of games on turf before and after that. We’ll see.
The split-season format (in which teams played 1/3 of their games before the World Cup and 2/3 after) saw six of the ten teams draw worse in the Fall Championship than they had in the Spring, with only Indy (identical averages), San Antonio (up 7%), Minnesota (up 65%) and Ottawa (up 105%) seeing gains in the second stanza. Southeastern teams Carolina (-22%), Atlanta (-21%), Tampa Bay (-14%) and Fort Lauderdale (-8%) all dropped in the fall. Overall, the league averaged 5,346 in the spring (4,913 median) and 5,608 in the fall (4,513 median).
There was a bit of a World Cup bump (the league averaged 5,346 before Brazil and 5,732 after it), but the two major events in the fall accounted for a lot of that.
Besides November’s small sample of five games, the best month for average attendance was August (6,153, thanks to Man City and Olympiakos), while the rest of the months were pretty steady (June’s 5,150 was the lowest).
With the league scheduling the vast majority of its matches on weekends (127 of the 134 matches were on Saturday or Sunday), days of the week comparisons are hard to make, but Saturday games averaged 5,620 and Sunday matches 4,831.
Jacksonville (which recently finalized its lease at the local baseball stadium) will join the ranks in 2015, with Oklahoma City’s final disposition still up in the air. Assuming Edmonton sticks around (and they appear to be), there will be either 11 or 12 clubs in the NASL next season. Still to be determined is how a split season format would work and what playoff format they will choose this time.
But the overall takeaway from the 2014 season at all three levels of the pro game should be an optimistic one. Never have so many enjoyed so much for so long.
Did you know the indoor soccer season starts tomorrow? You probably did not. Even the handful of true aficionados of the six-a-side game with walls find themselves paying more attention to lingering drama from the offseason than excitement in thoughts of the new season.
The fourth season for USL Pro is now complete and here are the final unofficial attendance numbers for the Division III league. (As always, additions, corrections and comments are welcomed.)
|Sacramento Republic FC||14||158,107||11,293||8,000||20,231||8,000|
|Orlando City SC||14||66,402||4,743||4,818||5,029||4,206|
|OKC Energy FC||14||52,975||3,784||3,819||4,722||2,813|
|Arizona United SC||14||33,528||2,395||2,225||3,588||1,482|
|Harrisburg City Islanders||14||27,289||1,949||1,934||2,518||1,417|
|Orange County Blues FC||14||10,719||766||714||1,226||431|
|LA Galaxy II||14||8,359||597||530||1,259||127|
|Dayton Dutch Lions||14||7,455||533||488||1,026||213|
|MLS Reserve Teams||6||12,668||2,111||358||11,202||100|
|USL PRO TOTAL||202||623,019||3,084||2,367||20,231||100|
- Division III cracked the 3,000 per game barrier for the first time (beating the 2012 mark of 2,658), thanks in part to Sacramento’s record-breaking season. Without the Republic, the other 13 teams averaged 2,485 per game.
- Sacramento became the first Division III team to ever break the 10,000 per game barrier and joined Rochester, Montreal and Portland as the only lower-level clubs to ever accomplish it. (Indianapolis will join that group at the conclusion of the NASL season.)
- The biggest gainer year-over-year was Arizona United (which technically is a new franchise and not a continuation of 2013’s Phoenix FC, but just for comparison’s sake), which finished up 56% from a year ago. Harrisburg was up 34% (though they’re still under the 2,000 line), Orange County was up 7% (though still under the 1,000 line) and Richmond and Charleston both finished up about 6%.
- On the flip side, Charlotte (in their final professional season before dropping to the PDL) fell about 8%, Rochester was down about 10%, Pittsburgh (which declared bankruptcy several months back) finished down 18%, Wilmington was down an alarming 26%, and Dayton (still a mystery) was down 29%. Then we have annual attendance leader Orlando, which was down 41%, but that was because they moved to a much smaller venue while Citrus Bowl renovations are ongoing. The Lions still played to 86% capacity, one of the top marks in the league. (Sacramento 98%, OKC 95%, Harrisburg 89%).
- May was the best month for the league overall, with a 3,474 average for 36 matches. April (2,712) was the worst.
- Thursdays beat out Saturdays (3,937 to 3,261) for the best day of the week, but that’s a bit misleading because there were only nine Thursday matches and three of them were in Sacramento. In all, weekends (Friday-Sunday) beat weekdays (Monday-Thursday) by about 20%.
- It’s hard to discern a true “World Cup Bounce,” if you were looking for one. USL Pro averaged 3,167 for 85 matches prior to the World Cup, 2,901 for 37 matches during it and 3,081 for 80 matches after it.
- I only have data for five of the 14 league matches hosted by MLS Reserve teams this year, and outside of Real Salt Lake’s 11,202 for their July 25 match against Pittsburgh, they were nothing to write home about.
- Next year, we will see a bevy of new teams, many of them owned and operated by MLS clubs. If the LA Galaxy II experiment is any indication, some of these secondary teams may struggle to find an audience (not that that is their raison d’etre). Real Salt Lake, Montreal and possibly Seattle and Dallas will have their own teams in the league in 2015, to be joined by clubs in Louisville, Colorado Springs, Austin, Tulsa and St. Louis. Going forward, league numbers are probably going to require a bit of deeper analysis when comparing them to prior years because a situation is developing where a third or more of the league’s teams may eventually be focused primarily on player development and not operating as a ticket-selling business.
With the Houston Dash and Sky Blue FC completing a weather postponed-game last night, the second National Women’s Soccer League regular season is officially in the books. Here are the (unofficial) final attendance numbers for the women’s Division I pro league:
|Portland Thorns FC||12||160,341||13,362||13,633||19,123||9,672|
|Seattle Reign FC||12||43,581||3,632||3,592||5,957||1,754|
|Western New York Flash||12||38,125||3,177||3,121||4,339||1,786|
|Chicago Red Stars||12||35,393||2,949||1,918||15,743||1,039|
|FC Kansas City||12||24,215||2,018||1,825||3,107||1,212|
|Sky Blue FC||12||19,682||1,640||1,339||3,471||582|
The Major Indoor Soccer League Championship will match the Baltimore Blast and Missouri Comets for the second straight year. (The Blast won last year’s series in two games.) Here are the final attendance numbers for the league for the 2013-2014 season:
|St. Louis Ambush||10||56,361||5,636||5,673||7,347||3,247|
|Syracuse Silver Knights||10||28,697||2,870||2,757||3,779||1,989|
- Rochester led the league for the second straight year, and saw an increase of about 16% in its announced average attendance for the year. Their 7,347 average marked the first time a team has cracked the 7,000 average barrier since Baltimore five years ago.
- Baltimore was also up, just over 10%, while the rest of the league was either basically flat (Milwaukee was down 3%, Missouri just over 1%) or saw a big drop off (Syracuse, down 16%). The league itself was up 7% over last year, thanks to a strong showing (third in the league) by the expansion St. Louis Steamers.
- Pennsylvania’s announced 1,549 average (boosted by a crowd of 4,632 for their only win of the season) wasn’t the lowest in recent years, but it was close. Rockford (1,112 in 2009-2010 and 1,242 in 2008-2009), the Chicago Riot (1,083 in their only season of 2010-2011), Chicago Storm (1,530 in 2005-2006) and, of course, the Massachusetts Twisters (459 in 2008-2009) were all worse at the gate. They weren’t all as terrible on the field as the Roar were, though.
As, seemingly, with every indoor offseason, this one will bring change. With renewed rumors of a merger with the PASL, the Milwaukee Wave’s owner being sued (not a problem, she says), no talk of expansion teams and an uncertain future for the MISL-USL relationship, there will be no lack of drama between now and next fall.
With an eye towards blogging more in 2014, I give you now the first look at indoor soccer attendance numbers for the 2013-2014 season. With the PASL much better these days at providing numbers, I’m able to include them along with the MISL figures. As always, corrections and additions are welcomed.
|St. Louis Ambush||4||23,372||5,843||5,673||7,109||4,918|
|Syracuse Silver Knights||3||8,315||2,772||2,837||3,489||1,989|
|San Diego Sockers||4||16,679||4,170||3,803||5,658||3,416|
|Hidalgo La Fiera||4||7,829||1,957||1,152||4,500||1,025|
|Las Vegas Legends||5||4,228||846||618||1,836||324|
|Saltillo Rancho Seco||3||1,739||580||550||652||537|
|Bay Area Rosal||*4||1,584||396||376||652||180|
|*=Missing 1 game
#=Missing 2 games
- Rochester – which broke Baltimore’s stranglehold on the top spot in the MISL attendance standings last year – continues to lead the league this year (though I’m missing the crowd figure for their December 14 game against St. Louis). Given that game apparently was played during a snowstorm, it’s likely including the number would drop the Lancers back into second place, as Baltimore’s current average isn’t too far behind Rochester’s. In either case, those continue to be the two best teams in the league at selling tickets.
- In terms of percent of capacity, the Missouri Comets (who play in the 5,800-seat Independence Events Center, the league’s smallest venue) lead at about 72%. Since their founding four years ago (making them the third-longest-running team we have), the Comets have consistently pulled in about 4,000+ a game.
- At the other end of the spectrum, we have the (Reading) Pennsylvania Roar, whose most recent home crowd (announced at 937) you see pictured above. The Roar were shut out for the second time this season (24-0 by Baltimore) and are 0-9. They can’t play, can’t win, can’t draw and have all the earmarks of a one-and-done club (as four of the last seven expansion teams have been).
- In Monterrey (where the old Fury led the second MISL in attendance in 2003-2004) the new Flash leads the PASL with 6,144 per game, including a league-record 9,627 crowd for their home opener. San Diego and Dallas are neck and neck for the second and third spots, and four others are over 1,000 per game. Of course, 65% of the league draws under 1,000 a game, with a handful attracting little more than friends and family. But the PASL has built a handful of successful franchises and after a near-merger with the MISL last year, shows some positive signs.
- The old saw has always been that indoor soccer attendance picks up after the first of the year. We actually do see something like that when looking at the numbers, but it’s influenced largely by the fact that December is such a bad month to draw fans that the effect appears more pronounced than it actually is. Here is a chart that shows average attendance by month in what is now MISL 3 going back to the 2001-2002 season:
(It’s worth noting that there have only been two September games, but they’re included for the sake of completeness.)
So you see a nearly perfect decline that bottoms out in December and then an uptick after that. But overall, the averages on either side of December are nearly identical.
Timeframe G Total Average September-November 242 1,179,074 4,872 January-April 749 3,654,038 4,879
So while post-January 1 average indoor soccer attendance is about 9% higher than the pre-January 1 average, it’s December that bolsters the effect.
I haven’t done a full update of every team’s attendance in a month and a half, so here’s a look at all the main leagues north of the Rio Grande through this past weekend’s games. You’ll see I’m still missing several figures in USL Pro, the PDL and W-League, so if you have those numbers (or are actually with one of the teams, like Robin Waite of the Kitsap Pumas, who graciously sent me what I was missing), send them my way or leave them in the comments. Standard disclaimer on all of these, and (once again) I actually did start an NPSL spreadsheet but tracking down numbers was so tough that I’m at the mercy of you, the loyal readers. If you have NPSL attendance numbers, send them to me or leave them in the comments and I’ll endeavor to include them in a future update.
With that said, here are the numbers through August 11:
|Los Angeles Galaxy||10||214,944||21,494|
|Real Salt Lake||12||226,610||18,884|
|New York Red Bulls||11||201,455||18,314|
|San Jose Earthquakes||12||164,875||13,740|
|New England Revolution||11||148,988||13,544|
|New York Cosmos||1||11,929||11,929|
|San Antonio Scorpions||7||50,093||7,156|
|Minnesota United FC||7||37,912||5,416|
|Tampa Bay Rowdies||7||31,252||4,465|
|Fort Lauderdale Strikers||7||29,177||4,168|
|Orlando City SC||13||102,533||7,887|
|Phoenix FC Wolves||13||20,941||1,611|
|Harrisburg City Islanders||14||20,386||1,456|
|Dayton Dutch Lions||13||9,669||744|
|Los Angeles Blues||&||10||7,150||715|
|VSI Tampa Bay FC||)(||8||3,770||471|
|MLS Reserve Teams||$||10||15,116||1,512|
|USL PRO TOTAL||157||419,222||2,670|
|Des Moines Menace||7||21,961||3,137|
|Portland Timbers U-23s||7||17,106||2,444|
|Victoria Highlanders FC||7||11,462||1,637|
|Ventura County Fusion||7||9,474||1,353|
|Forest City London||7||8,024||1,146|
|Western Mass Pioneers||7||7,404||1,058|
|West Texas Sockers||7||6,765||966|
|Long Island Rough Riders||*||6||4,941||824|
|Thunder Bay Chill||7||5,595||799|
|K-W United FC||$||3||1,810||603|
|Virginia Beach Piranhas||7||3,877||554|
|Sounders FC U23||7||3,769||538|
|Ocean City Nor’easters||*||6||3,199||533|
|Panama City Beach Pirates||7||3,201||457|
|SW Florida Adrenaline||#||5||1,998||400|
|Reading United AC||7||2,703||386|
|Houston Dutch Lions||7||2,650||379|
|St. Louis Lions||7||2,511||359|
|SC United Bantams||*||6||1,950||325|
|El Paso Patriots||7||2,150||307|
|Northern Virginia Royals||#||5||1,475||295|
|North Sound SeaWolves FC||7||1,640||234|
|Southern California Seahorses||$||3||600||200|
|NJ LUSO Rangers FC||&||4||795||199|
|Kansas City Brass||#||5||942||188|
|Real Boston Rams||7||1,301||186|
|Real Colorado Foxes||7||1,150||164|
|Southern West Virginia King’s Warriors||7||1,068||153|
|New York Magic – F.A. Euro||#||5||730||146|
|GPS Portland Phoenix||#||5||725||145|
|VSI Tampa Bay FC||)(||2||278||139|
|West Virginia Chaos||7||965||138|
|Orlando City U23||**||1||127||127|
|OC Blues Strikers FC||#||5||525||105|
|River City Rovers||7||638||91|
|Seacoast United Phantoms||7||580||83|
|Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23||7||569||81|
|LA Misioneros FC||*||6||325||54|
|Central Jersey Spartans||7||245||35|
|IMG Academy Bradenton||*||6||160||27|
|Fort Lauderdale Schulz Academy||)(||1||15||15|
|Portland Thorns FC||11||146,521||13,320|
|FC Kansas City||10||45,974||4,597|
|Western New York Flash||10||43,023||4,302|
|Seattle Reign FC||10||21,510||2,151|
|Chicago Red Stars||11||18,817||1,711|
|Sky Blue FC||11||18,309||1,664|
|Washington Spirit Reserves||6||12,194||2,032|
|Seattle Sounders Women||*||5||5,417||1,083|
|Long Island Rough Riders||6||3,913||652|
|Virginia Beach Piranhas||6||3,245||541|
|Charlotte Lady Eagles||5||2,701||540|
|Colorado Rapids Women||&||3||960||320|
|Carolina Elite Cobras||*||4||1,215||304|
|K-W United FC||&||3||770||257|
|New Jersey Wildcats||*||5||1,274||255|
|Dayton Dutch Lions||5||1,137||227|
|New York Magic – F.A. Euro||6||1,348||225|
|North Jersey Valkyries||6||1,224||204|
|Bay Area Breeze||6||1,149||192|
|Santa Clarita Blue Heat||&||3||476||159|
|Quebec City Amiral||*||5||685||137|
|VSI Tampa Bay FC||*||4||387||97|
|Toronto Lady Lynx||*||5||391||78|
|*=Missing 1 game
#=Missing 2 games
&=Missing 3 games
$=Missing 4 games
)(=Missing 5 games
**=Missing 6 games
- Once upon a time, the heart of the summer was a really bad time for MLS attendance. In fact, if you took out the Independence Day holiday boost, you got a graph that was smile shaped, with the high points for monthly averages at the beginning and end of the season. MLS has turned that around, with July its high point (43 games averaged 19,323, a league-record for the month) and June and August (so far) both averaging over 18k. With a Portland at Seattle match coming up in two weeks that will likely draw 65k+, this August might be one of the highest-attended months in league history.
- Right now, MLS projects to draw about 5.8 million, down a shade from 2012’s high-water mark (thanks, Chivas).
- The New York Cosmos have returned, and in drawing a season-high (and near league-record) 11,929 for their home opener, have gone to the top of the NASL charts. With five of their six remaining home games on Saturdays and with nostalgia still having not worn off, they should draw strong crowds the rest of the way. Their presence in St. Petersburg contributed to an Al Lang Stadium-record sellout crowd of 7,032 Saturday for what was a pretty spirited 0-0 draw. The Spring champions, Atlanta, were just under capacity for their Fall home opener that was plagued by lightning, Ft. Lauderdale drew an ehhh 3,295 for Minnesota and Edmonton got 1,745 for its first Fall home match. Glad they put those extra seats in up there.
- Orlando’s 10,697 crowd for its match on Sunday against the Seattle Sounders Reserves was a team regular-season record and (near as I can tell) the second-highest attendance for a regular-season third division match ever (Minnesota drew 11,255 for a match against Milwaukee in 1995). The Lions have already drawn about 10 times as many fans as Dayton, Los Angeles and Charlotte and they have one home match left. And with their stadium funding having cleared another hurdle, it appears their dreams of moving to a higher level might become reality.
- At the other end of the spectrum, Phoenix FC drew an announced 420 for its penultimate home match, which is appropriate, given you’d have to be high to believe what their chairman is saying.
- Only four games remain in the inaugural NWSL season and the good news is the league’s average crowd is about 21% higher than in the final year of WPS in 2011. The bad news is that every market that had a team in the old league is down (some substantially) from their former averages, while Portland and Kansas City are thriving. Chicago’s down 58% from 2010 (their last year in WPS), Boston’s off 45%, Western New York is down 12% and Sky Blue FC (one of the best teams in the league) finished with a home average of 1,664 (down 23% from 2011). I’m sorry, those are trouble spots that need to be addressed, even if USSF, CSA and FMF are paying the freight for the star players. Forty-one percent of the people who have attended NWSL matches this year have done so in one city (Portland) and the Thorns might not even get a home playoff game.
- And it happened over a week ago, but the Austin Aztex drew 3,062 and 4,253 for their semifinal and final in the PDL as they won the title.
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):
|Des Moines Menace||7||21,961||3,137||2,971||3,544||2,877|
|Portland Timbers U-23s||7||17,106||2,444||2,028||5,897||364|
|Victoria Highlanders FC||7||11,462||1,637||1,379||2,347||1,206|
|Ventura County Fusion||7||9,474||1,353||1,117||2,645||817|
|Forest City London||7||8,024||1,146||1,060||1,697||527|
|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|
|Thunder Bay Chill||7||5,595||799||763||973||644|
|K-W United FC||^3||1,810||603||400||1,080||330|
|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|
|El Paso Patriots||7||2,150||307||210||630||100|
|Northern Virginia Royals||#5||1,475||295||315||365||210|
|North Sound SeaWolves FC||7||1,640||234||75||645||65|
|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|
|Real Colorado Foxes||7||1,150||164||150||300||100|
|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|
|VSI Tampa Bay FC||&2||278||139||139||200||78|
|West Virginia Chaos||7||965||138||120||250||50|
|Orlando City U23||$1||127||127||127||127||127|
|OC Blues Strikers FC||#5||525||105||45||200||40|
|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|
|LA Misioneros FC||*6||325||54||50||100||25|
|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|
* = missing 1 game
# = missing 2 games
^ = missing 4 games
& = missing 5 games
$ = missing 6 games
- 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.
The year 2013 is half-over and all the various outdoor soccer leagues are in full swing, so we can now look at attendance numbers for everybody in MLS, the NASL, USL Pro and the PDL on the men’s side and the NWSL and W-League on the women’s side. Additions and corrections are always welcome.
|THE MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER||G||Total||Average||Median|
|Los Angeles Galaxy||7||153,642||21,949||20,124|
|Real Salt Lake||9||166,931||18,548||18,962|
|New York Red Bulls||9||165,616||18,402||18,029|
|San Jose Earthquakes||9||133,300||14,811||10,525|
|New England Revolution||8||109,356||13,670||13,189|
|NORTH AMERICAN SOCCER LG||G||Total||Average||Median|
|San Antonio Scorpions||5||34,975||6,995||6,889|
|Minnesota United FC||5||25,521||5,104||4,825|
|Fort Lauderdale Strikers||6||25,882||4,314||4,393|
|Tampa Bay Rowdies||5||19,186||3,837||3,575|
|Orlando City SC||8||62,549||7,819||7,930|
|Phoenix FC Wolves||8||17,670||2,209||2,005|
|Harrisburg City Islanders||9||11,980||1,331||1,179|
|Dayton Dutch Lions||#6||5,646||941||859|
|Los Angeles Blues||#6||4,248||708||728|
|VSI Tampa Bay FC||&6||2,767||461||340|
|MLS Reserve Teams||#6||12,960||2,160||1,058|
|USL PRO TOTAL||99||269,276||2,720||2,031|
|PREMIER DEVELOPMENT LG||G||Total||Average||Median|
|Des Moines Menace||5||15,292||3,058||2,969|
|Portland Timbers U-23s||6||16,394||2,732||2,699|
|Victoria Highlanders FC||6||9,115||1,519||1,378|
|Ventura County Fusion||5||7,383||1,477||1,117|
|West Texas Sockers||5||5,077||1,015||925|
|Forest City London||4||4,027||1,007||979|
|Western Mass Pioneers||5||4,659||932||1,011|
|Long Island Rough Riders||6||4,941||824||548|
|Thunder Bay Chill||5||3,859||772||728|
|K-W United FC||*2||1,410||705||705|
|Sounders FC U23||6||3,521||587||341|
|Virginia Beach Piranhas||3||1,722||574||641|
|Ocean City Nor’easters||2||1,027||514||514|
|Reading United AC||5||2,244||449||507|
|SW Florida Adrenaline||*3||1,300||433||386|
|Panama City Beach Pirates||6||2,390||398||427|
|Houston Dutch Lions||4||1,500||375||375|
|El Paso Patriots||5||1,840||368||425|
|St. Louis Lions||5||1,586||317||321|
|SC United Bantams||*5||1,550||310||300|
|Northern Virginia Royals||3||890||297||315|
|NJ LUSO Rangers FC||&2||480||240||240|
|North Sound SeaWolves FC||4||855||214||80|
|Southern California Seahorses||&3||600||200||200|
|Real Boston Rams||6||1,136||189||210|
|Real Colorado Foxes||3||550||183||150|
|New York Magic – F.A. Euro||*3||530||177||150|
|S.West Va. King’s Warriors||5||813||163||128|
|Kansas City Brass||#2||321||161||161|
|GPS Portland Phoenix||*3||475||158||150|
|West Virginia Chaos||6||855||143||140|
|VSI Tampa Bay FC||&2||278||139||139|
|Orlando City U23||^1||127||127||127|
|OC Blues Strikers FC||*5||525||105||45|
|River City Rovers||6||527||88||92|
|Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23||5||429||86||77|
|Seacoast United Phantoms||4||280||70||65|
|LA Misioneros FC||6||325||54||50|
|Central Jersey Spartans||4||161||40||41|
|IMG Academy Bradenton||5||140||28||20|
|Fort Lauderdale Schulz Academy||&1||15||15||15|
|NATIONAL WOMEN’S SOCCER LG||G||Total||Average||Median|
|Portland Thorns FC||6||77,142||12,857||12,460|
|FC Kansas City||7||30,648||4,378||4,186|
|Western New York Flash||6||21,793||3,632||3,258|
|Seattle Reign FC||6||11,694||1,949||1,848|
|Sky Blue FC||7||12,234||1,748||1,439|
|Chicago Red Stars||6||8,499||1,417||1,198|
|Washington Spirit Reserves||5||9,601||1,920||538|
|Seattle Sounders Women||*4||4,045||1,011||999|
|Long Island Rough Riders||5||3,739||748||532|
|Charlotte Lady Eagles||3||1,410||470||374|
|Virginia Beach Piranhas||5||2,343||469||486|
|New Jersey Wildcats||#1||389||389||389|
|Colorado Rapids Women||#3||960||320||275|
|Carolina Elite Cobras||*4||1,215||304||292|
|New York Magic – F.A. Euro||4||1,033||258||226|
|North Jersey Valkyries||4||978||245||196|
|K-W United FC||&2||450||225||225|
|Dayton Dutch Lions||4||799||200||194|
|Bay Area Breeze||4||581||145||128|
|Quebec City Amiral||*4||436||109||108|
|VSI Tampa Bay FC||*4||387||97||100|
|Toronto Lady Lynx||4||319||80||80|
|Santa Clarita Blue Heat||&2||126||63||63|
^=4 games missing
&=3 games missing
#=2 games missing
*=1 game missing
- Almost halfway through its season (they’re three games shy of the halfway mark), Major League Soccer is still at a healthy 17,699 per game, even with Chivas USA dragging things down a bit. Eight teams are averaging over 19k per game, which is terrific. Thanks to a 50,028 crowd for their game against the Galaxy at Stanford this past weekend, San Jose is at a robust 14,811 for the season (they won’t be able to keep it, but they’ll wrap up their stay at Buck Shaw Stadium with no doubt that their product resonates with the market again). The quick projection math (seeing what would happen if everyone held their average the rest of the way) puts the league at around 5.7 million for the season, a bit off last year’s record 6 million.
- Atlanta, Carolina, Edmonton and Ft. Lauderdale all finished their Spring Season home slates in the NASL this past weekend, and all are ahead of last year’s averages through the same number of home games. Minnesota is, too, but will play its first game of the season at its ancestral home, the NSC Stadium in Blaine, on the 4th.
- Rochester announced a season-high 7,334 for Hall of Fame Night against Phoenix FC on Saturday, but the Rhinos are still a shell of the club that used to average over 10k per game a decade ago. Orlando, which saw its 25-match home unbeaten streak snapped by Richmond, still leads USL Pro with a 7,819 average. The league average is actually being brought down a bit by the MLS Reserve clubs, as the full-time USL Pro teams are averaging a collective 2,756.
- Des Moines is back on top of the PDL chart, as Portland and Fresno have slipped a bit. First-year Oklahoma City FC is averaging a promising 1,218 (one of ten PDL teams in four figures). The PDL average is about where it has been historically, with some teams (like Bradenton) making no bones about their player development agenda, to the exclusion of worrying about ticket sales.
- The NWSL is just past its halfway point, and has three teams (including its best team, Sky Blue FC) averaging under 2,000 a game. Portland still sets the pace, with Kansas City and Washington drawing good numbers. It’s odd that Rochester loved Abby Wambach as an opposing player, but has been largely indifferent to the local girl making good now that they can see her every other week.
- The Washington Spirit Reserves lead the W-League in attendance with numbers that are ( a ) bolstered by a pair of doubleheaders with their NWSL team and ( b ) apparently bollocks anyway, based on a comment from the last update. It’s tempting to say the loss of all the US Women’s National Team stars has hurt the Seattle Sounders Women, but the presence of Hope Solo hasn’t made a big difference to the Seattle Reign (to be fair, she was hurt and the team is terrible).
Now that (nearly) everybody in the six primary outdoor soccer leagues in the US and Canada has had a home match, we can take our first comprehensive look at 2013 at attendance figures. I’ve added medians to the chart this time. (These are through games of Sunday, June 9 and, as always, corrections and additions are welcome.)
|THE MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER||G||Total||Average||Median|
|Los Angeles Galaxy||6||129,967||21,661||20,098|
|Real Salt Lake||8||147,083||18,385||18,628|
|New York Red Bulls||8||140,133||17,517||16,927|
|New England Revolution||8||109,356||13,670||13,189|
|San Jose Earthquakes||8||83,272||10,409||10,525|
|NORTH AMERICAN SOCCER LG||G||Total||Average||Median|
|San Antonio Scorpions||4||28,486||7,122||6,971|
|Minnesota United FC||5||25,521||5,104||4,825|
|Fort Lauderdale Strikers||4||18,134||4,534||4,443|
|Tampa Bay Rowdies||4||14,591||3,648||3,494|
|Orlando City SC||7||53,707||7,672||7,466|
|Phoenix FC Wolves||6||13,831||2,305||2,005|
|Harrisburg City Islanders||6||8,281||1,380||1,402|
|Dayton Dutch Lions||3||3,528||1,176||1,436|
|Los Angeles Blues||5||3,436||687||657|
|VSI Tampa Bay FC||5||2,517||503||423|
|MLS Reserve Teams||5||12,647||2,529||1,055|
|USL PRO TOTAL||73||198,304||2,716||2,031|
|PREMIER DEVELOPMENT LEAGUE||G||Total||Average||Median|
|Portland Timbers U-23s||3||12,948||4,316||3,681|
|Des Moines Menace||2||5,940||2,970||2,970|
|Ventura County Fusion||3||5,627||1,876||1,865|
|Victoria Highlanders FC||5||7,736||1,547||1,376|
|K-W United FC||*1||1,080||1,080||1,080|
|West Texas Sockers||4||4,152||1,038||921|
|Long Island Rough Riders||3||2,781||927||532|
|Forest City London||2||1,587||794||794|
|Virginia Beach Piranhas||1||715||715||715|
|Thunder Bay Chill||3||2,069||690||697|
|Sounders FC U23||5||3,276||655||437|
|Western Mass Pioneers||2||1,161||581||581|
|El Paso Patriots||3||1,580||527||525|
|Reading United AC||3||1,334||445||507|
|SW Florida Adrenaline||3||1,300||433||386|
|Houston Dutch Lions||3||1,150||383||400|
|St. Louis Lions||2||766||383||383|
|Panama City Beach Pirates||4||1,448||362||383|
|SC United Bantams||*3||1,050||350||300|
|North Sound SeaWolves FC||2||695||348||348|
|NJ LUSO Rangers FC||*1||300||300||300|
|Real Boston Rams||2||455||228||228|
|Northern Virginia Royals||1||210||210||210|
|SWVa King’s Warriors||2||410||205||205|
|New York Magic – F.A. Euro||*2||380||190||130|
|Real Colorado Foxes||3||550||183||150|
|GPS Portland Phoenix||3||475||158||150|
|West Virginia Chaos||4||625||156||163|
|VSI Tampa Bay FC||2||278||139||139|
|Kansas City Brass||1||138||138||138|
|River City Rovers||3||270||90||103|
|Seacoast United Phantoms||2||175||88||88|
|OC Blues Strikers FC||4||325||81||43|
|Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23||3||235||78||77|
|LA Misioneros FC||4||250||63||50|
|Central Jersey Spartans||2||90||45||45|
|IMG Academy Bradenton||2||75||38||38|
|Fort Lauderdale Schulz Academy||*0||0||0||0|
|Ocean City Nor’easters||0||0||0||0|
|Orlando City U23||#0||0||0||0|
|Southern California Seahorses||*0||0||0||0|
|NATIONAL WOMEN’S SOCCER LG||G||Total||Average||Median|
|Portland Thorns FC||5||63,340||12,668||12,446|
|FC Kansas City||4||19,396||4,849||4,274|
|Western New York Flash||4||12,082||3,021||2,945|
|Seattle Reign FC||5||9,376||1,875||1,377|
|Chicago Red Stars||4||6,568||1,642||1,292|
|Sky Blue FC||5||8,106||1,621||1,439|
|Washington Spirit Reserves||3||4,701||1,567||538|
|Long Island Rough Riders||3||3,236||1,079||862|
|Seattle Sounders Women||2||2,127||1,064||1,064|
|Charlotte Lady Eagles||1||752||752||752|
|Colorado Rapids Women||1||535||535||535|
|North Jersey Valkyries||*1||462||462||462|
|Virginia Beach Piranhas||*1||346||346||346|
|Carolina Elite Cobras||*2||648||324||324|
|K-W United FC||#2||450||225||225|
|Dayton Dutch Lions||2||388||194||194|
|Bay Area Breeze||3||452||151||127|
|New York Magic – F.A. Euro||2||236||118||118|
|Quebec City Amiral||2||220||110||110|
|VSI Tampa Bay FC||#2||173||87||87|
|Toronto Lady Lynx||3||244||81||85|
|Santa Clarita Blue Heat||1%||78||78||78|
|New Jersey Wildcats||#0||0||0||0|
*=Missing 1 game
#=Missing 2 games
%=Missing 3 games
- Seattle’s crowd of 53,679 for their home game against Vancouver Saturday was a season high in MLS. (How many tickets did Vancouver fans get, by the way, anybody know? After that whole Cascadia brouhaha?) The Sounders are slightly behind last year’s final average, and league attendance is down. It projects out (if everybody holds their current averages) to a total attendance of about 5.63 million for the season, well off last year’s milestone 6 million plus. The good news is that MLS is playing to about 84% capacity and, at 17,435 a game, is still very healthy.
- Obviously, there are still issues with Chivas USA, but the Goats are still unlikely to reach the depths of Dragon Stadium Dallas or Miami. The real problems appear to be with established clubs that should do better (Chicago, Columbus and DC, specifically).
- Every team in the NASL except San Antonio (which would have been hard pressed to, given they moved to a more intimate venue) is up year-over-year in terms of average announced attendance. Carolina (up 57%) is the biggest gainer to this point (though their recent club-record crowd in an Open Cup match doesn’t count in these rankings, which track only league games), but Minnesota is up 43%, Ft. Lauderdale is up 38% and even Tampa Bay is up 20%. There have been smaller gains in Atlanta (where they’re near capacity anyway) and Edmonton (where new seats just went in, to underwhelming reaction so far). The teams, collectively are up about 8% and the league after 30 matches this year is about 22% ahead of last year after the same number of games. No Division II league has ever had all of its teams finish over 2,000 announced per game for an entire season, so if Edmonton can get there by year’s end, this will be a first.
- Orlando’s still setting the pace in USL Pro, with the Lions drawing 7,466 and 6,187 for a pair of 2-0 wins this weekend. They’re about 10% ahead of last year’s league-leading pace through 7 home games). Dayton drew a near team-record (they haven’t always announced all their crowds, but the Dayton Daily News described it as a record) 1,621 for their match against the Columbus Crew Reserves Saturday night. These MLS crossover games aren’t drawing a ton of interest (averaging just 3,004 for five matches at USL Pro venues) but MLS teams have been going deep into their benches and, in some cases, their academies for players to play in these things. Because the games count in the standings, I’m including the MLS Reserve Teams as one line item in the USL Pro chart, but the league average is actually slightly higher if you take them out of the equation (2,730 to 2,716).
- Portland is certainly (once again) Soccer City USA. The Timbers’ first team sells out every game, their U-23 team leads the PDL in attendance (thanks in part to some well-attended school/camp day games) and their NWSL team, the Thorns, is far and away the leader in the new women’s league. Most of the rest of the NWSL isn’t much to write home about, with the co-league-leaders Sky Blue FC (who don’t wear sky blue, I’m just sayin’) at the bottom of the attendance table. Three NWSL teams are averaging under 2,000 announced per game and former league leader Boston is just over 2,000. As the American, Canadian and Mexican federations are paying the salaries of their international players, NWSL teams should be doing much better from an expense standpoint, but if they’re not putting those savings into sales and marketing, I’m not sure this league will be any better off than the last two. Their median announced attendance through 35 games (2,855) is only slightly higher than WPS’ was through 35 games in 2011 (2,477).
- Fresno, Portland and Des Moines, the usual PDL leaders, are there again in the early going. A total of 10 PDL clubs are averaging over 1,000 announced per game, and a couple more are close. Then we have the teams that exist solely to give players an opportunity to develop, as in Bradenton, where IMG Academy announced a crowd of 15 – fifteen – for its May 29 match against Orlando. Meanwhile, FC Tucson had a club-record 1,015 for its showdown against Fresno on Saturday.
- Lastly, we have the W-League, led by Washington on the strength of a season-opening doubleheader with its big sister club that drew a league-high 4,027. Seattle – which averaged 4,333 last year when they had Hope Solo and Alex Morgan, is still among the league leaders, but at only a quarter of last year’s draw. (Meanwhile, Seattle’s WPS team, with Solo, can’t get 2,000 a game in the same stadium.)