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Columbus Crew and Houston Dynamo suffering worst attendances

Photo credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

After four home matches each in the 2017 MLS season, Columbus Crew SC and Houston Dynamo are both drawing their lowest average attendances since 2011.

The Crew attendance is down 22.7% compared to last season, and is currently averaging 12,659 fans per game this season. In Houston, meanwhile, average attendance is down 15% (the Dynamo is averaging 17,821 per match).

DC United, on the other hand, is drawing the highest since 2011 after four home matches. Philadelphia is at its lowest three game home average since it entered the league eight years ago. Conversely Portland, had sold-out attendances for every home match in its seven year history in Major League Soccer.

After the first 67 matches in 2017, the average reported attendance is down 2.74% compared to 2016.

Here are the reported attendances for MLS gameweek 7:

NY Red Bull20,104
San Jose18,000

Here is the 2017 MLS attendance report through gameweek 7:

MLS Attendance – Equal # of Home Games 
 AttAttAtt +/-GP
LA Galaxy25,66721,198-17.41%3
Sporting KC20,19919,216-4.87%3
Salt Lake19,40918,979-2.22%3
Red Bulls19,29218,564-3.77%3
San Jose18,00018,0000.00%4
D.C. United14,96516,4299.78%4
Philadelphia Union16,90616,262-3.81%3
FC Dallas14,37516,09911.99%2
NE Revs13,97613,148-5.92%2

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  1. John Taylor

    September 22, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    The leagues figures are utter crap at most games, especially in Houston.

  2. matt

    April 19, 2017 at 10:02 pm

    Galaxy will block out 5-6K seats and announce a sell-out… Total BS

  3. Jon

    April 19, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    I can only comment on the Crew. There are a lot of Columbus soccer families that hate the Crew and everything about the organization, due to it’s poor management of the youth program. The Crew is a brand, like any business. Their problem is that they are too stupid to protect and manage it.

    • kpretlaw

      April 19, 2017 at 7:13 pm

      So, from the end of last season to the start of this season, the brand was irreparably damaged? Attendance was at a long-time high last year with at least five sellouts, even with a down team….. or, it’s the scheduling.

      • Kei

        April 20, 2017 at 8:52 am

        Maybe one of those “sellouts” was an actual sellout where the stands were filled to the rafters. When teams like Columbus, Houston, Red Bulls, etc announce attendance numbers over 20,000, it’s a much safer bet that the crowd is much closer to the 12,000 ~ 15,000 range.

  4. kpretlaw

    April 19, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    So – calm down everyone….Let’s look at the actual facts. Scheduling for Crew SC is horrendous this year.

    Game 1 – 45 degrees in March.
    Game 2 – First Saturday of suburban spring breaks
    Game 3 – Next Saturday of Spring breaks
    Game 4 – Holy Saturday

    Let’s see what happens after we get to a more normal calendar.

    • Kei

      April 20, 2017 at 8:50 am

      Also, Columbus has been fighting a city-wide epidemic of dogs eating Crew tickets since the start of the season. Can’t forget that…

  5. cm

    April 19, 2017 at 10:33 am

    Ticket prices in Houston have gone from very reasonable to totally outrageous, not to mention the weathers not exactly been great here either (rainy). They want people in the seats, they need to lower prices, work with local media (they used to), and also stop marketing exclusively to the Hispanic market — seriously sometimes I have to watch the games in Spanish because there is no English broadcast available — talk about alienating your fans..

  6. John

    April 19, 2017 at 8:38 am

    MLS expansion has proved to be successful, who predicted Atlanta getting over 50,000 per game? Orlando getting crowds over 60,000 and selling out a 25,000 SSS?

    But MLS needs to make the entire season more relevant for all teams. What Seattle/Portland proved with local rivalry is what MLS needs long-term. If MLS collapsed tomorrow Sounders & Timbers would carry on regardless even if they had to create their own league.

    NYRB crowds didn’t falter when NYCFC came in, in fact they grew and now sees its RB arena’s only sellout. Likewise for Columbus bringing in Cincinnati would see Columbus fans have something to fight for outside of winning the championship.

    Consider the geographical & population size of MLS (US & Can) is similar to that of Europe. Yet England alone has 92 professional clubs, MLS only has 23 and says it wants to stop at 28.

    The MLS, NASL & USL should be well over 100 clubs and local rivalries which don’t rely on how big a star DP a team has, MLS could have 40 teams, with many more local rivalries, split into 8 regional divisions (5 teams each) that would give MLS a far better outlook long-term when the newness of franchises wears off. Winning a regional division gives fans something to gain pride from even if they have no hope of winning MLS cup.

    • Total Relegation

      April 19, 2017 at 1:33 pm

      John, whatever you’re on I need some of what you’re smoking.

    • Angus

      April 19, 2017 at 3:47 pm

      John, you are spot on. (though you should have included Vancouver with Seattle and Portland)
      There’s nothing like local derbies to generate big crowds and with 6 each, the Cascadia teams have at least 3 guaranteed near sellouts per season.

      There is a huge demand for franchises and MLS is currently choosing 4 from 12 and saying “That’s it”. The big worry then is that we will to get that ridiculous situation that other American sports have, where you find your club is suddenly moved half way across the continent and the Vancouver Whitecaps suddenly become the Wyoming Whitecaps!

      Instead they should do like the rest of the world and have promotion and relegation. Regional lower divisions promoting to an 18 team MLS division 1, would grant every town and city across N. America the ability to have a team. You can have hundreds of teams feeding an ever progressing top league.

      Promotion and relegation battles generate large crowds. Every team can have that dream of winning the league. It is the only way that N. American teams will ever be able to compete on the world stage instead of being recognised as a sub-par league, not only by outsiders, but by most of the fans here too.

    • Lee Nichols

      April 21, 2017 at 3:32 pm

      Agreed, and I hope MLS will see that as they eye central/south Texas. The conventional wisdom is that only Austin or San Antonio can have a team, and I think it’s bunk. Austin and San Antonio should be viewed as completely separate media markets and having a team in both would result in a great rivalry.

  7. StillACrewFan

    April 19, 2017 at 12:23 am

    It’s probably because they don’t have big name DP’s and the team has turned over a bit so people aren’t excited about the players, and they have a hangover after let-down last year.

    However the main reason is the stadium is not in a downtown area, and it’s no where near anything else exciting for people to go to after the game. In fact it’s kind of in the ghetto.

    • Lee Nichols

      April 21, 2017 at 3:29 pm

      Downtown area does not guarantee good attendance. Houston’s stadium is in the heart of downtown, with great things to do nearby, and their attendance is embarrassing. Meanwhile, Sporting KC’s stadium is out in the boonies far to the west of downtown, and their attendance is great (and I’m talking actual butts in the seats, not just tickets distributed).

      • francis

        April 21, 2017 at 8:56 pm

        Looks to me like Houston just ain’t a soccer town. Way too hot and sticky in the summer months, plus they’ve got pretty good MLB,NBA and NFL teams that play in air conditioned comfort

  8. AAA

    April 18, 2017 at 11:14 pm

    Saturation point. Keep expanding MSL, it’s not like you have the NASL for an example or anything.

  9. Kei

    April 18, 2017 at 10:21 pm

    So that would be 7,659 and 11,821 actual fans per game for Columbus and Houston, respectively?

    • Lawrence Dockery

      April 19, 2017 at 11:45 am

      ^^^This guy gets it.^^^

      • Lee Nichols

        April 21, 2017 at 3:57 pm

        Exactly. If there are 17K fans actually in the seats at Dynamo games, then many of them are cleverly disguised as orange seats.

  10. Chas

    April 18, 2017 at 8:16 pm

    Wonder if Crew’s attendance has anything to do with FCC? They drew mad numbers last season, and apparently Crew were worried about that.

    • Lawrence Dockery

      April 19, 2017 at 11:45 am

      Then maybe they should do something about it instead of just sitting and worrying.

  11. The Truth

    April 18, 2017 at 7:35 pm

    The Earthquakes report 18,000 every single game. That’s a sellout crowd. I am a San Jose season ticket holder, and I can guarantee you that is not true. Where that number comes from is beyond me. I know it’s a common practice to report sold tickets versus actual attendance, but if you try to buy tickets before the game you can no problem. Just go on ticketmaster and see for yourself. There will be entire rows for sale. It’s 100% BS. Actual attendance is somewhere around 12-14k from my rough estimates.

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