June 16, 2009

MLS attendance: shrinking

Great work by MLS Daily on this information, be sure to take a look.

In short, there are a lot more empty seats out there compared to last year.

Only five teams (Toronto, Chivas, N.E., K.C., Columbus) are averaging more fans now than in 2008, and only two of them (Chivas +6.51%, N.E. +11.86%) are greater than 3% hikes.

On the other side, nine teams have less fans in attendance:
  • FC Dallas -34.78%
  • San Jose -33.98%
  • D.C. -28.85%
  • Chicago -28.67%
  • Los Angeles -22.42%
  • New York -18.92%
  • Colorado -14.65%
  • Houston -7.51%
  • Salt Lake -5.91%
League average attendance is down about 1,500 fans per game (about 8.8%) and that includes Seattle's 29K fans a game.

Some commenter said the hit is more like 13% disregarding the Sounders FC faithful.

Not good.


TJ said...

Actually, currently MLS attendance is down 15.52% from last year if you take Seattle out of the equation.

There are a few reasons why this looks worse than it actually is... they include the awful economy, Beckham's absence, and the lack of double-headers or other special events to artificially boost attendance #'s so far this season.

For instance, last season New England got to claim a crowd of 54,045 as their own, even though their league game against FC Dallas was the warm-up act of a doubleheader with the second game being an international friendly between Brazil and Venezuela. In the past, it wasn't uncommon to see the league schedule such events in order to boost attendance, however, they have yet to do so this season, save for a WPS-MLS doubleheader in D.C. that drew 18K+.

When Beckham returns and the economy comes back from the dead, things will begin to look much brighter.

overmars said...

TJ-Beckham's only back till the end of the season. Whatever boost he has given to the league has reached diminishing returns. Then again the boost he might generate this time will be ill wishers.

TJ said...

Though he may not be able to draw quite as big of a crowd as he did two years ago, he certainly would still have a huge impact on attendance around the league. Hell, Dallas fans filled Pizza Hut Park out to see him in an preseason exhibition game with the Galaxy last spring.

If his drawing power has diminished, I would say it is still 98% what it was when he arrived. And he will most likely be back for the second-half of next season as well, which means you can expect the Galaxy to have a lot of road games in places like Dallas, San Jose, New York, etc... to properly capitalize on it this time.