Thursday, May 31, 2007

2007 MLS attendance compared to capacity

Yesterday I looked at the current MLS attendance numbers and wonder what it could mean, but while I was thinking about it last night, I realized I missed an interesting way of comparing those numbers.

Instead of just looking at the averages, I could also look at what the averages mean in terms of their stadium capacity.

TeamAvg AttendCapacityAvg % of CapStadium Type
SSS: Soccer Specific Stadium, CS: College Stadium, NFL: NFL Stadium

So what use is there in knowing this information? Not a lot, but it does make Toronto's numbers stand out even more. At almost 97% capacity, you can see what it is so hard to play there. It also shows that Colorado's (CR) numbers might give them eighth best average in the league, but as far as percentage of their possible whole, they are doing wonderful. Heck, they even draw above capacity for last weekend's match with LA (go Military Appreciation Night).

On the other end of things you have the teams stuck in NFL sized caves. Anyplace filled to less then 20% capacity is going to look a little sparse. If you agree that a big part of going to a pro game is the atmosphere, you can see how these low numbers could create a negative loop. Folks show up, experience little and decide not to return. Add to it some poor play in the past (hello NY and KC) and you've got a bunch of bad interlocking.

If there is one piece of good news for NY and KC it is that maybe a good year or two will see those numbers jump. Sadly, New England has had multiple good years in a row and is still swinging low. DC might have a low number, but that total does represent a large portion of the lower deck in RFK (which I seem to recall being around 25,000 as Kinney pointed out in the comments, RFK's lower deck is about 20,000, so DC's numbers look even better).

Great show by the Houston Dynamo (HD) by getting over 50% of the seats filled in their college football stadium.

One last thing, with eight teams over the 50% mark there is little reason for their not to be a great atmosphere at games. It seems like the only thing stopping it is the fans themselves. Having attended a number of MLS matches, it seems that a lot of fans don't grasp the concept of cheering and chanting almost none stop and not just when something big happens. It is getting better but I still get looks for people when I'm yelling for all I'm worth (then again, that might say more about me then them).

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Blogger pate said...

"[I]t seems that a lot of fans don't grasp the concept of cheering and chanting almost none stop and not just when something big happens."

Amen! At both MLS and PDL games, I've seen/heard 'fans' complaining about the drumming and chanting that's going on nearby. I wish I knew a good way to educate them.

3:46 PM  
Blogger Kinney said...

Lower deck portion used to be about 22,000 before baseball. Now it is right around 20,000.

4:21 PM  
Blogger Kinney said...

at RFK.

4:22 PM  
Blogger George said...

The lack of constant chanting maybe more of a general American sports dilemma than anything else.

If you you watch basketball games, home fans at the stadium who are watching a decisive game in a playoff series will only cheer when prompted by the announcer or when their team is in the lead.

These fans don't understand that home-field advantage isn't a given. The fans have to create it.

It should be noted that in the NBA a lot of die-hard fans are priced out of the arena and have been replaced by affluent fair-weather fans.

8:51 AM  
Blogger Rob said...

to follow up on the RFK numbers,

56k+ was the attendance before baseball. Starting in 2005, it has been 46k and change.

10:19 AM  
Blogger Mike H said...


I found a number of 45,016, but it was for the baseball setup. The 56,692 figure was the football setup number, so I went with that. Also, United's website mentions RFK as 56k.

I will look some more, but I, so far, cannot locate a mention of under 56k for soccer purposes.

11:53 AM  
Blogger Josh Mahar said...

So I really love this post because it gives me a reason to promote Memorial Stadium for the new Seattle Franchise instead of Qwest Field. Memorial holds 17,000 currently and the location is directly under the Space Needle. Talk about atmosphere! I think its perfect for an intitial team compared to the cavern of Qwest.

4:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's really heartening to see you all backing football like this. I agree with you all that atmosphere at games is the key to getting the sport into the mainstream but I guess it will take more than just time to instill a true footy atmosphere in the US.
I'm not sure what experience any of you have of English football but Anfield or St. James' Park are the benchmark of crowd participation for the whole world. It may be expecting too much to think it may be the same in Denver or LA.
I also completely agree that a better atmosphere can be found in a full house - even if the house is not the biggest. I'm a Boro fan and even though we don't get Man Utd's 80,000, we can make 30,000 sound pretty impressive.

Power to your MLS elbows!

11:40 AM  
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