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MLS attendance shoots over 4 million

Aug 8, 2012, 9:55 AM EDT

Toronto FC v Seattle Sounders FC Getty Images

Congratulations to the 53,471th person to walk through the turnstiles at CenturyLink Field over the weekend. You were the four millionth fan to attend a Major League Soccer game in 2012. A ridiculous 60,908 people — the highest number of the season — watched the Sounders soundly defeat the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Soccer America takes the opportunity to note some Fun Attendance Facts:

* Seattle’s current average is 41,480. Seattle had set the all-time MLS attendance record in each of its first three MLS seasons: 2011 — 38,496; 2010 — 36,173; 2009 — 30,897.

* MLS league-wide attendance this season after 213 games is 18,814, an 8.6 percent increase over the average of 17,295 after Week 22 in 2011. (The highest season attendance averages were 17,872 in 2011 and 17,406 in 1996.)

Sweetness.

But also, there’s a little cause for concern hidden around the edges. Seven teams are averaging lower attendance then last year: Chivas USA, D.C. United, the Galaxy, the New England Revolution, the New York Red Bulls, Toronto FC, and the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Some of those are understandable. New England is flat terrible, and Gillette is a disaster. Chivas and TFC are also struggling in the standings. (That said, it’s a shame to see TFC lose support since they had such great crowds in the past.)

Some isn’t. Red Bull Arena is down more than 2,000 fans per game. That’s not good, especially for a venue that was supposed to be one of MLS’s calling cards. (It’s still a very good fan experience, however.) D.C. United’s constant state of unrest is starting to have a negative effect. (Hopefully the new owners can fix that up.) The Whitecaps are fun and good and you have to wonder what’s up in Vancouver.

So: Mostly good but a little of the bad. Put it this way: People aren’t exactly waiting in line to get tickets to MLS games, but the league is making progress slowly. That’s all you can ask.

  1. sluggo271 - Aug 8, 2012 at 10:30 AM

    I don’t get the New York market at all. Just don’t understand it. Savvy soccer fans or just no interest in MLS?

    • knowyrproduct - Aug 8, 2012 at 10:56 AM

      New York City is a weird market. People just will not go to New Jersey unless it’s for the Jets, the Giants, or a concert. If you build a stadium in Queens, people in Manhattan will claim it’s “too far”. If you put it in Manhattan (somehow, magically) the reverse will happen. Travel wussies.

      Steve, when are we gonna get an article about how bad things are here in New England a la the recent one on Chivas USA’s struggles?

      • ll8078 - Aug 8, 2012 at 11:15 PM

        just remember, driving 10 miles around NYC is like driving an hour elsewhere, with all the tolls, traffic, and 50 cent higher gas. Real point brought up and real issue…can’t put stuff outside of the city and expect to attract people. Brooklyn Nets are doing it right, Red Bulls did it wrong. Even that resort thing they were planning next to the Meadowlands is becoming a huge bust….people will drive for the NFL on a Sunday when they have off work…not for a weekday MLS game or pass up a saturday night in NYC (referring to amateur fans).

  2. dhagentj - Aug 8, 2012 at 2:00 PM

    Why is there concern about Vancouver? They are fifth in the league, and the highest-attended team under 20k. I’d be more worried about Los Angeles, who are drawing far below the purported capacity for HDC at 27k.

  3. tylerbetts - Aug 8, 2012 at 2:47 PM

    I have to agree with that thought on Vancouver. The story isn’t that this year is worrisome, it’s that last year was incredible.

  4. jelliot1978 - Aug 8, 2012 at 3:35 PM

    I am certainly no fan of the Sounders, nor do I dislike them, but I think what they are doing is truly remarkable. To have their attendance keep rising every year, not by a little mind you, is astonishing. In four short years they have increased their record by over 10k. Seattle alone is the key team into pointing out that you don’t have to be in a megalopolis such as NY or LA to have fans. MLS does not need another NY team, they need another team like Seattle. Find a decent size city with fans starving for something big and it will pay off. Put another team in NY and you may have another Chivas. (Before I get someone spouting geography at me, yes I know exactly where the Red Bulls play and that it is not in the city itself, but either the Red Bulls start to lose fans or the other team is more like the Islanders where they don’t match their city counterparts).

  5. ll8078 - Aug 8, 2012 at 11:12 PM

    I was astonished by the Red Bulls decision to put the stadium there from day one. That’s hardly in NYC when you factor in traffic. They were a lot better off building in Flushing (where the next stadium is going apparently) which is easily accessible by rail or even vehicle from all boroughs. It’s one thing to travel to the Meadowlands 8 times a year for an NFL game …. but not 15+ for a MLS caliber game.

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