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Leagues: MLS

MLS attendance report: August 2009

An abbreviated post due to my being on the road.

After week 20 the numbers look like this…

5 year comparison
WK 20143 GPYTD
 2005 21,232 10 14,849 14,905 134
 2006 17,497 -17.59% 7 15,496 4.36% 15,449 3.65% 128
 2007 23,740 35.68% 7 15,942 2.88% 15,899 2.91% 129
 2008 13,907 -41.42% 4 16,542 3.76% 17,049 7.23% 132
 2009 12,055 -13.32% 6 15,412 -6.83% 15,412 -9.60% 143

Here are the attendance comparisons to 2008’s equal number of home games(143):

MLS Attendance Averages – Equal # of Home Games
AttCapAttAtt +/-GPCapCap
 Seattle 0 0.00% 30,204 NA 11 94.39% 32,000
 Toronto 20,173 91.79% 20,278 0.52% 11 92.26% 21,978
 LA Galaxy 25,348 93.88% 19,292 -23.89%  9 71.45% 27,000
 Real Salt Lake 15,412 74.09% 16,353 6.11% 9 73.69% 19,340
 ChivasUSA 14,286 52.91% 16,211 13.48% 9 60.04% 27,000
 Houston 15,701 69.78% 15,538 -1.04%  10 69.06% 22,500
 D.C. United 20,133 89.48% 15,193 -24.53%  9 67.53% 22,500
 Columbus Crew 13,681 68.40% 13,114 -4.14%  10 65.57% 20,000
 NE Revolution 16,494 73.31% 13,088 -20.65%  8 58.17% 22,500
 Chicago 17,092 85.46% 13,027 -23.78%  9 65.13% 20,000
 Colorado Rapids 13,930 77.02% 12,711 -8.75%  10 70.28% 18,086
 N.Y./N.J. Red Bulls 17,385 69.02% 12,702 -26.94%  9 50.43% 25,189
 San Jose 15,396 86.87% 11,104 -27.88%  10 51.80% 10,300
 KC Wizards 9,596 92.40% 10,024 4.46% 9 96.52% 10,385
 FC Dallas 14,420 70.34% 9,407 -34.76%  10 45.89% 20,500

My disclaimer about the capacity calculations


Week 20 games drew a relatively weak attendance average of 12,055, down from last year’s 13,907 for four games. Colorado and Dallas drew modest numbers of 10,851 and 10,317, although Dallas’ numbers were up over its pathetic season average of around 9,400.

Meanwhile FC Barcelona and the Galaxy sold out the 93,137 seats in the Rose Bowl as the ‘Summer of Soccer’ rolls on, proving that a great club and celebrity will bring fans to soccer matches in the US.

YTD – 143 Games
 2005   14,849  12,199 30.07% 15.38%
 2006   15,496  13,056 20.98% 18.18%
 2007   15,942  14,351 9.79% 23.08%
 2008   16,542  15,276 11.19% 25.87%
 2009   15,412  14,441 14.69% 18.18%
Week 19 Games
Toronto1TFC Connected
New England1Revolution Soccer
Houston4Soccer y Fútbol – Barnard Fallas
DC United3DCU – Steve Goff – Soccer Insider
FC Dallas63rd Degree – Buzz Carrick
Kansas City0Kansas City – Hillcrest Road
Chicago1Chicago – En Fuego Official Blog
Real Salt Lake0RSL – Behind the Shield
Colorado0Colorado – Undercurrent
Columbus1Columbus Dispatch – Crew XTra
San Jose4San Jose Center Line Soccer
Seattle0Seattle Times

Just Some Stuff

The finalists for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup are DC United and Seattle. DCU looks to defend its crown while the Sounders are looking for their first hardware as an MLS club. The final is on September 2 at RFK stadium in DC.

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  1. Ryan

    August 7, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    just from a statistician’s standpoint, since this article relies heavily on stat-tables (and thankfully, because this is an article i never miss…i love that you post this each week), you really should adjust the seattle % of cap to where it should be, which is over 100 (with SRO tix). they’ve had two different capacities, and they’ve sold out every game in both capacities, so while yes, their total for the season compared to the current capacity listed is correct at 94%, the stat you’re trying to portray is actually incorrect. if they sold every ticket to every game and everybody showed up (check, check, and check so far this season), how can they avg. 94%? the point of showing % of cap is to help offset stadium size…like how the red sox only dray 38K compared to the yankees 50K, their avg. game capacity is 101% and the yanks is around 90%. that’s the point of the stat, so really, you should adjust for all capacity differences (san jose a prime example) to give us the correct answer.

    look at kansas city. you don’t think the per game avg. is all that great, but it’s almost a full house every night at 96%. that’s second in the league behind seattle.

    sorry, long winded, just trying to help. thanks again for posting!

  2. s.y.l.c.

    August 5, 2009 at 10:37 am

    I will be at the NYRB v. W Connection game so I might DVR it. I haven’t really watched much Superliga.

    A merger will never happen because there are so many obstacles to overcome (FIFA involvement, owners wanting it, travel/format). We should concentrate on MLS-USL relations (where you are more likely to see a St. Louis club right now).

  3. eplnfl

    August 5, 2009 at 8:11 am

    btw, superliga final in Chicago tonight expected to be close to a sellout. Good buzz for the game in the Spanish language press. If so, anyone want to talk again about my idea of a merger between the two leagues or some expanded cup type competition!

  4. eplnfl

    August 4, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    Columbus is a 6 hour bus ride. So they become our closest road trip and it’s one of the few road games a bus tour will be set up for supporters. It would be nice to see another Midwest team in MLS. Milwaukee is a strong soccer town and it’s just over hour ride from the heart of Chicago. Miller Park is Wrigley Field North by another name.

    Blanco has been hurt, or limited, or off to the Mexican National team, or just thinking about other things mostly this year. So, that has hurt. McBride is now out for the year. Maybe back for the post-season.

    Any sports league has better support that has a Chicago team doing well in it. Just ask the NHL what a good Chicago team means.

  5. s.y.l.c.

    August 4, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    I’m sure Philly fans will travel well because they can take the I-95 to 3 other stadiums.. NY and Philadelphia also have a multi sport rivalry and they already have almost 10000 season ticket deposits. They’ll be just like the rest of the “MLS 2.0” clubs.

    I really don’t know what happened to the Fire (although a lot of games were ruined by bad weather from what I know). It doesn’t help that Blanco says he’s done in Chicago after this season. However, I don’t know if a St. Louis team would help (or at least it isn’t as urgent a problem as the huge void in the Southeast).. Is Columbus a doable trip for Chicago? I’m surprised they don’t have close to TFC like numbers for those games.

  6. eplnfl

    August 4, 2009 at 7:45 pm


    Do you think the Union fans may travel well? As I said above you get a good group from TFC and the Crew always at Toyota Park. I do not want to spark another expansion war debate but it would help attendance in Chicago if another Midwest team came into the league. So, St. Louis from that perspective would help. We are used to going back and forth to see Cub v. Card games. You would expect the Seattle fans when they have the chance to drive to an away game in the near future to show up in the the parks. For that mater I have caught more than one flight to see the Bears play in Florida. That is really appealing when you can spend a weekend in the sun when it’s snowing up here and see a game. So, a Florida team may see a few more Fire fans than expected.

  7. s.y.l.c.

    August 4, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    eplnfl’s last sentence sums it up: even the MLB and NFL are not recession-proof. I don’t want to bring politics into this, but with a possible recovery on the way as well as the Union next year the attendance should be better.

  8. eplnfl

    August 4, 2009 at 4:37 pm


    Let me say this, the game experience at Toyota Park is one of the best around. A full house makes it a lot better, but with Section 8, great giveaways( obtained a free t-shirt Saturday), fireworks, and great food, a night at Toyota Park is FUN! You name the Chicago team and I have attended the game in person. It’s the best sporting night out for the money. So, there is every reason to go out to the park, if you can afford to, which is another factor. Your not to likely to attend a game if you out of work.

  9. park bolivar

    August 4, 2009 at 11:36 am

    Seems like Faith and Family night on Saturday was a bit of a wash, something like a 14k crowd, no?
    The pending CONCACAF champions league should be good (unfortunately, I won’t be able to catch the home match v. Pachuca, damned Wednesday nights).
    You got any idea if the October game against Galaxy tickets are sold out?

  10. Rex

    August 4, 2009 at 11:03 am

    From a Houston perspective, I really think they miss Superliga. Houston has had some pretty good superliga crowds. Even though these numbers above are only MLS attendance, many of these fans come back to see MLS games. Superliga introduces and/or reminds the casual soccer fan (especially the Hispanic ones) that a Houston Dynamo game is quite a good time.

    Houston hasn’t had the opportunity to cross promote soccer like many other cities this summer. Other than 1 Gold Cup set of matches, there hasnt been much soccer here. The Dynamo only played 2 home games in June and only 1 in June. In the busy “Summer of Soccer”, Houston soccer fans have had a total of 4 nights of soccer in 61 days.

  11. nignightmare

    August 4, 2009 at 10:34 am

    good point by eplnfl

    this summer there have been more opportunities to watch other quality and top-quality football then ever before, and many of those matches were in direct conflict of the MLS schedule. And another point is that, honestly, the stadium experience at most of these clubs isn’t that great. Only TFC and Seattle really seem to make an experience out if it. So if I had my options, stay at home and watch Chelsea or Inter in the comfort of my crib, or pay 30$ to go out in the hot a$$ sun and listen to the same group chant the same damn songs over and over again…. well personally i’m at the United games, but others I don’t think are quite as into it as I am

    • Mexico, 2009 Gold Cup Champions

      August 5, 2009 at 6:21 am

      You’re right about the chanting. It’s an absolute earsore. I wish those karaoke rejects would shut the F up.

  12. Joe in Indianapolis

    August 4, 2009 at 1:24 am

    @ Jayoh

    It’s not just you. I think it’s probably a reaction to criticism in years past that they fail to take control of the game or they allow too much contact. So it seems to me that this season the refs have sent a lot of players off unjustly and ruined plenty of games in the process.

  13. Jayoh

    August 4, 2009 at 12:34 am

    Does anyone else see the amount of red cards given by the mls refs as a problem? Just wondering, it seems like there has been an unbelievable amount of reds given on what should only be yellows. I don’t know could just be me? I know this prolly isn’t the right place to post this but I’d love to see a post on cards given by refs over the years, it seems like the mls should want to try and keep their best players on the field as opposed to showing them red right away. Seattle has 7 reds already and New York has 6, some epl teams didn’t even have that many reds for an entire season…seems a bit ridiculous to me, only Newcastle last year had more at 8, and that was for an entire season! Sorry for the rant…just thinking out loud I guess.

  14. eplnfl

    August 3, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    The Fire continue to be running well below last years attendance. Last Saturday was another bad weather night. Cool and rainy most of the day but just cool by game time .Helped hold the crowd down. Also, McBride, Blanco, Conde where all out. One thing of note is that the Fire’s new party area seems to be gaining some real interest and the private boxes seem to be well occupied. The Fire have the Superliga final this week to pick up some extra $$$$$ at the gate. RSL does not inspire a lot of interest and does not bring any fans themselves. The Crew or Toronto FC puts people in the stands when they come to town.

    I hate to say this but at this point in time I do believe that the WPS took some fans away. I want the WPS to stick around but I think it eats into the same fan base. For instance, the many girls soccer programs will tend to go to the WPS, instead of the MLS. No one wants to point the finger, the Chicago team is a great organization lead by the popular Peter Wilt, love the guy, but it has had to hurt the Fire at the gate. I am sure he would say with all his heart that thats the last thing he would want to do.

    And we should not forget that with all the soccer on TV, like Saturday nights big game from LA, and with the Fire game on free TV locally, might it be the better option to stay at home? Still, you can’t beat fun at the old park.

    • peter

      August 4, 2009 at 9:36 am

      Certainly there is some cannibalization of the Fire’s market share by the Red Stars, but i truly believe it is relatively small and is largely offset by introducing Toyota Park and professional soccer to new audiences who will then decide to attend Fire games. Red Stars promotional efforts raise awreness in the public of professional soccer and Toyota Park and that’s a positive for the Fire and the Red Stars.

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