FanPost

Crystal Ball Predictions: 2012 Attendance

One thing American soccer fans, especially MLS fans, obsess over is attendance statistics. In the general public we are a minority "niche" sport, casual Americans don't care, steeped in foreign-ness and all things immigrant. Never mind that high school participation has not seen a decrease since it was first tracked and soccer is the number 5 sport in high school for boys and girls (the girls are soon to take #4 away from softball). In addition to the numbers who play we can add facts to confront our detractors at the professional level. Lastly, I love me some simple statistics.

2011 was a banner year for MLS. While MLS benefited from a significant increase in the number of matches because each team hosted two additional matches (17 from 15), and two fabulous new teams entered, the average attendance proved even more resilient.

I predict MLS will breach 6,000,000 in total attendance. Let's start with last year.

2011 Attendance

If you haven't noticed, SB Nation already tracks the stats and gives a general overview (left column). I snagged their table for my purposes (and found out it was inaccurate, but it is now correct here).

Total

Avg

CHI

242,641

14,273

CHV

252,110

14,830

COL

252,246

14,838

CLB

207,145

12,185

DAL

218,637

12,861

DCU

258,332

15,196

HOU

300,798

17,694

SKC

302,770

17,810

LAG

396,695

23,335

NER

224,774

13,222

NYR

334,747

19,691

PHI

310,386

18,258

POR

320,059

18,827

RSL

299,098

17,594

SJE

201,586

11,858

SEA

654,415

38,495

TFC

344,539

20,267

VAN

347,004

20,412

TOTAL

5,467,982

17,869

For historical comparisons, check out this thread at BigSoccer. In short, best year in average attendance, best median (by 2300!), lowest percentage of games under 10k, second best year in percentage of games over 20k, and two thirds of all games were 15k+.

2012 Attendance Prediction

In basic terms, there are going to be 323 matches (306 + 17) this year. If the average is held constant there would be a total attendance of 5,771,687. In the past 5 years, the year over year increase/decrease has been 8.7% (2007 Beckham bump), -1.9% (2008), -2.6% (2009), 4.0% (2010), and 7.5% (2011). Lets say the increase in average attendance is merely 3% to (18,405), total attendance is now 5,944,838 or just 55,162 short of the 6 mil barrier.

Conversely, to exactly reach 6,000,000 there needs to be an average attendance of 18,576 or a 3.96% increase. Or a 707 attendance increase in each game. And on a side note where I cherry pick dates and numbers: since 2000, the lowest year in MLS (13,756), average attendance is up 29.9%!

After the table I will explain my decisions on why I feel some teams may be up or down. There are objective observations to be made but the numbers are definitely subjective.

Total

Avg

%

CHI

243,100

14,300

0.19%

CHV

246,500

14,500

-2.23%

COL

256,700

15,100

1.77%

CLB

204,000

12,000

-1.52%

DAL

229,500

13,500

4.97%

DCU

263,500

15,500

2.00%

HOU

324,700

19,100

7.95%

SKC

312,800

18,400

3.31%

LAG

404,600

23,800

1.99%

NER

212,500

12,500

-5.46%

NYR

329,800

19,400

-1.48%

PHI

311,100

18,300

0.23%

POR

345,491

20,323

7.95%

RSL

302,600

17,800

1.17%

SJE

221,000

13,000

9.63%

SEA

680,000

40,000

3.91%

TFC

345,100

20,300

0.16%

VAN

346,800

20,400

-0.06%

MTL

408,000

24,000

N/A

TOTAL

5,987,791

18,538

3.74%

Team by Team Analysis

Chicago Fire. Five year trend is downward, but don't expect it to drop much farther given what they've historically had in attendance. With Chicago I'll say it stays much the same as last year. UP, but barely.

Chivas USA. Hard to know if anyone finds them at all relevant. Although, they are a cheaper alternative to the Gals. Not much movement in either direction for the next year. DOWN, but barely.

Colorado Rapids. Their new fan initiative is pretty sweet. Sign up for 2012 season tickets and get your name on their 2013-2014 jersey. In terms of numbers? Increase, but nothing special. UP, but barely.

Columbus Crew. Can they stop the slide this year? Even with winning teams on the field the fans of Columbus are becoming more fickle. I only get the sense of holding level or a slight decrease in attendance this season. DOWN, but barely.

FC Dallas. Ticket rep training and an ambitious FO have increased their ability to reach fans more often and with greater professionalism. See the trend of healthy increases to continue for Dallas (unless scorched earth weather continues). UP.

D.C. United. No rent terms have even been agreed to yet for 2012! These loyal fans haven't seen a good DC United in a while. Fans will respond to a successful team and lets hope they get DeRo signed. UP, but barely.

Houston Dynamo. Runner-up to MLS Cup. New stadium. Downtown location in a sprawling city. Capacity 22,000. New stadium shine will push their attendance higher than last year in spite of lower capacity (Robertson capacity: 32,000). Save for year 1, Houston has increased attendance each year. Pen in one more. UP.

Sporting Kansas City. Did home game burnout occur or was that the maximum size of the regular SKC fanbase? I lean more to the former than the latter and I expect similar (over)capacity crowds seen last year. UP.

LA Galaxy. All the stars, minus a few one key cogs (Junhino loaned again), have returned. Add in a more experienced Buddle and they're going to draw a good crowd again. UP.

New England Revolution. Kraft loves to watch his teams Pats. Fan relations at an all time low. New coach pulled from within the player ranks. Kreis 2.0? Success on the field here is not going to change the warm bodies in the stands. Historically, it can get worse. DOWN.

New York Red Bulls. Red Bull Arena has been a fine success even if that doesn't translate well on TV. They also just lost a tax case with the City of Harrison. However, the stars are still there and they have solid keys to success. If there is a drop, it wont be significant. My guess is they hold steady. DOWN, but barely.

Philadelphia Union. Ships off the face of the franchise who was involved in the majority of all goals = success? Nowak thinks so. I kind of agree given their youth movement. Union attendance is solid. Capacity crowds continue. They've also been flirting with increasing stadium capacity. UP, but barely.

Portland Timbers. But for the increased attendance in two matches, the Timbers' average would have been 18,627, median 18,627, standard deviation of 0. Expect the same but at 20,323 (if that capacity number holds). Also, section 201 is no longer a viable seating arrangement (look at some of the training videos, it is tarped). UP.

Real Salt Lake. Solid crowds are showing up with more consistency. RSL looks to continue to trend as they also contend for best in the West. UP, but barely.

San Jose Earthquakes. They're selling tickets often at overcapacity for many games. The team is very viable but still waiting for the last complaint by the neighborhood about noise concerns to disappear even though said stadium is next to an airport (map). At the moment, they're going to have one game at Stanford against LA which will greatly boost their attendance. Last year's NYRB game at Stanford netted 45,000. UP.

Seattle Sounders. 40,000. See the reason why here. UP.

Toronto FC. Over 40,000 are showing up for a CCL match against LA next month. I'm optimistic that this is the year they get into the playoffs. They were playing really well in all competitions late last year. Attendance? Still solid. UP, but barely.

Vancouver Whitecaps. Sophomore slump for the Whitecaps? Not likely when they brought in ethnic favorites. Expect good crowds again and the ease of knowing all games will be played at BC Place this year. DOWN, by 12.

New Entrants

Montreal Impact. L'Impact will indeed have an expanded stadium to increase capacity from 13,000 to 20,000. But before they descend on Saputo Stadium they'll enjoy matches at Olympic Stadium with over 55,000 in capacity depending on configurations. After the home opener, they'll also get the benefit of hosting LA and NY inside that stadium. What this means is with 5 games potentially above 20,000 they'll average well above 17,000 in their first season. Season tickets are on a slower pace than all recent expansions, but that shouldn't stop Montreal being above league average. With Olympic Stadium in the mix, Montreal's average is the most difficult to guess. BIENVENUE!

Note: Going off of confirmed season ticket numbers currently, 2,000,000+ tickets have been sold based from just 9 teams.

Conclusion

TOTAL

5,987,791

18,538

So close! Just trying to be real and not give overly rosy projections. That said, it's very possible to cross 6,000,000 as demonstrated.

Soccer consciousness may never permeate deeply into American psyche, but it sure hasn't died and disappeared even after two previous epic collapses. It stands stronger than ever. The original MLS franchises are still pulling their weight and if you remove the post-2005 teams and compare that group's average against total average the difference narrowed significantly last year. It was the opposite in 2007 and 2008, the original teams had better attendances and the first expansion teams were actually a drag on attendance averages. Once San Jose builds their new home this difference may disappear altogether.

Crossing the 6,000,000 attendance barrier is an artificial benchmark. The number alone is not very descriptive because there could be 30 teams in the league and that is the total attendance. It does not describe the health of the league either without looking at other variables such as rent agreements, TV deals, advertisements and stadium costs. Yet, in terms of statements of impact, "MLS has gone from 3.5 million in 2008 with 14 teams to 6 million with 19 teams" looks great. More eyes are on the game in more places. I do concede that there are more matches per team and more teams, but average attendance means all boats have risen.

Credit to Yoshou for supplying a five year average attendance which was a great help to my prediction. Another thread credit for individual team attendance goes to edwardgr. OleGunnar20, you too.

Your thoughts?

Make your guess in this poll.

Alright guys, I don't believe I have to say this but, just in case, please do not submit anything racist, homophobic, sexist or otherwise not appropriate for even the younger Timbers fans.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join Stumptown Footy

You must be a member of Stumptown Footy to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Stumptown Footy. You should read them.

Join Stumptown Footy

You must be a member of Stumptown Footy to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Stumptown Footy. You should read them.

Spinner

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9353_tracker