Saturday, March 30, 2013

MLS Attendance is Down

Through the first 34 games overall attendance is -10.2% from last year. The last time Major League Soccer had an aggregate drop in attendance year over year was 2002.

2012 Total : 698,308
2013 Total : 626,765

Some might be quick to point out that CenturyLink Field had three matches in the first 34 in 2012 and only two this year. With that venue adding nearly 40k fans a game, it's significant. Think of it as almost a 2 for 1 deal for the league. Twice the attendance for one game (more like 2.5x but keeping it simple).

To account for Seattle you can simply take them out of the equation or use average attendance as measure or get creative.

1. Taking Seattle Out:
Because they played 3 games through the first 34 last year and 2 this year that would leave us comparing 31 and 32 games yr over yr, so another one would have to come off the books to even it up. To try and help MLS let's exclude the poorly attended Gillette Stadium game this year.

2. Average Attendance
Another way to do it is just use averages for each venue and see how that looks. Playing with averages is dabbling in the dark arts. Actually, worse than that but still... Last year the league was averaging around 21k per match, this year around 19k.

3. Remove Outlying Venues
CenturyLink is High, Buck Shaw is Low and the game at Marlins Park, Miami last year is random. Taking all of these matches out of the yr over yr total will give us a better idea of the overall health of ticket sales this year. What it has done is leave us with 29 games from both years to compare.



Should be interesting as the season rolls on but a drop in attendance is certainly something the league is very sensitive to. I'll keep watching but I would expect the trend to continue at around 6-8% drop on the year. This would be an ego blow for a league that has been pushing attendance numbers on its fans for years so I would expect another expansion side to be expedited into the league ASAP.


• Seattle's 3 home games were 16% of overall ticket sales through first 34 last year. 2 games this year is 12% of total.

• Toronto moving their home game indoors this year actually helped the over all 2013 number. BMO max is 20k but they pulled 25k by moving the game indoors to the SkyDome (Rogers Centre).

• Home Depot Center saw 5 games each in in first 34 both years. Chivas attendance has been atrocious. Overall HDC is down 15878 from last year.

• Overall dip in attendance is -71,543

• You can find all data HERE.

• Here is a link to old NASL attendance data if you are interested.

• The post image comes from NASL Memories. Go there. Spend time. Let it wash over your soul.

[ADDING; Median attendance per game 2012: 19,009 and 2013: 18,077]

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