2018 MLS opening weekend attendances up 2% compared to last year

Photo credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to a new season of MLS attendance reports.

In 2017, Orlando had a decrease due to the fact of the reduced capacity of their new stadium, 20.1% lower than their 2016 average. Four more teams lost more than 6%. NYCFC was down 17.9%, Los Angeles was down 11.5%, Columbus was down 9.4% and Houston was down 8.0%. Chicago’s great season led to their 11.4% increase. Only five other teams had increases albeit small, while Portland continued its perfect record of sellouts.

This season, I don’t expect a bump from LAFC joining the league with a capacity of 22,000 in their new home. Remember, tickets distributed — not butts in the seats — is the method that MLS uses to announce attendances.

I wrote this in my week 1 post last year and my opinion hasn’t changed: That being said, as I wrote on this site back in 2009, it’s the TV revenue that will kick MLS into the big leagues. Ticket sales, food and merchandise sales, corporate sponsorships are all well and good but the big bucks are in TV and that’s a problem as MLS TV ratings are, well, awful. It doesn’t inspire networks to lay out huge money for programming that doesn’t draw large numbers. Hopefully that will improve with the better play on the field, but that will take time. Unlike the NFL, NBA, MLB and the NHL, MLS has stiff competition for ‘soccer eyes’ on TV. They are the best leagues of their sport in the world and US viewers are accustomed to watching the best. So with so much quality soccer available to US viewers, that’s a big hill to climb. And it certainly doesn’t help that the major sports TV outlets, yes ESPN, I’m talking to you, barely give lip service to MLS.

Okay, on to how week 1 played out. The attendances were pretty much to form. There were sellouts reported in Orlando, San Jose, Kansas City, Vancouver and strong showings throughout the rest of the league.

Week 1 Attendances

Dallas — 16,116
Houston — 20,377
Kansas City — 20,831
LA Galaxy — 25,462
Orlando — 25,527
Philadelphia — 16,452
San Jose — 18,000
Seattle — 40,070
Toronto — 26,633
Vancouver — 27,837

MLS Attendance – Equal # of Home Games  
  2017 2018    
  Att Att Att +/- GP
Seattle 45,600 40,070 -12.13% 1
Vancouver 19,083 27,837 45.87% 1
Toronto 27,909 26,633 -4.57% 1
Orlando 25,527 25,527 0.00% 1
LA Galaxy 23,554 25,462 8.10% 1
Sporting KC 19,117 20,831 8.97% 1
Houston 20,758 20,377 -1.84% 1
San Jose 18,000 18,000 0.00% 1
Philadelphia Union 16,795 16,452 -2.04% 1
FC Dallas 16,150 16,116 -0.21% 1
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  1. bottlcaps March 5, 2018
    • gmmchu March 5, 2018

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