The indoor soccer season officially ended Saturday night with the Baltimore Blast’s 8-6 win over the Missouri Comets in the second game of the Major Indoor Soccer League finals. It’s Baltimore’s seventh championship (including one by the original Blast in 1984), second only to San Diego’s 10 among top-flight indoor leagues.
The 2012-2013 season saw the MISL average 4,329 fans per game, up about eight percent from last year, but the number would likely drop a bit had Chicago reported its last three attendance figures. Anyway, here are the numbers we have:
A few notes:
- For the first time since 2003-2004, Baltimore didn’t lead its league in average announced attendance (Monterrey was the last team to out-draw the Blast). Rochester did, thanks in part to a crowd of 10,320 on January 27 (a game that almost didn’t happen), a record for this iteration of the MISL. But the second-year Lancers were a fairly consistent draw throughout the season and raised their average by 12 percent over last year. They appear to be a franchise on solid footing.
- Their upstate New York rivals, however, are a puzzler. While Syracuse’s numbers were 15 percent above last year’s, their team president publicly stated the Silver Knights were “getting about 2,000 a game this year,” the same as last year (when they announced 2,951 per game). They’re going to need to show growth in year three for there to be a year four, it seems.
- Milwaukee made a big jump, boosting their average 28 percent year-over-year to their highest levels since they moved out of the Bradley Center in 2004. The Wave are the longest continuously-playing soccer team in the country, and would play their 30th season in 2013-2014.
- Missouri, in its third season, showed modest growth (<4 percent) but did a great job nearly packing its building on short notice for the first game of the finals (5,279). While they're not going to match the original Comets’ impact on the market, they appear to be a solid franchise. With Wichita just over 200 miles away and rumors of the St. Louis Ambush returning for next season, the league could have begun rebuilding critical mass in the Midwest.
- Speaking of Wichita, I can’t figure them out, can you? They have what appears to be a terrific building for this sport, the original Wings were beloved, yet these Wings can’t draw and saw their average drop 25 percent from last year. Obviously, they’ve not been a very good team (LeBaron Hollimon has to be on the hot seat going into next year), but they’ve only averaged 3,321 per game in two years since they were resurrected. Luckily, their owner owns the building, so they may be doing better financially than other teams that struggle at the gate. (EDIT: Wings owner Wink Hartman announced this morning that the team is for sale, so evidently they’re not doing better financially than other struggling teams. Unless Hartman cuts a new owner a break on the rent, new ownership is going to be even farther behind the 8-ball.)
- Then we have Chicago, about which perhaps the less said, the better. Their announced average of 2,366 per game (for 10 games, we’re missing the last three) is below that of the last Chicago team to play in the Sears Center (the Storm in its final season in the XSL four years ago). But most of their crowds looked like this, or this, or this (or, in the playoffs, this). That doesn’t bode well, especially given their optimism about filling the place. The next few months will be very interesting as we see whether or not the Soul joins the Riot, the Storm, the Sting, the Horizon, the Shoccers and the Vultures on the scrap heap of Chicago indoor soccer franchises.