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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

MLS 2011 Attendance Statistics Week 2

Before I dive into the statistics for this week, I wanted to restate the purpose of this analysis. It is really twofold: as a scientist I am interested in trends and relative terms. Thus, the "relative attendance" factor, which is derived from the stadium capacity, is a look at how full a stadium really is. Having been to two opening days: Rapids (2010) and Sounders (2011), it became clearer that a number be defined. For the Rapids, the attendance was 11,641 (64%). I had posted on Twitter that it was a nice crowd and I believed so until someone replied that "it looked empty."

Seattle, of course, is the pernnially sold-out venue for soccer fans. The stadium can hold up to 67,000 for football matches has a reduced MLS capacity of 36,500. Opening day had 36,443. And it was precicely after this match that, as we walked out of the stadium, I heard several conversations about how full the stadium was and why they didn't expand it further, given its NFL capacity. That's a tough sell in this country, even by Seattle's standards. This is why most soccer venues are usually for 20,000 spectators. It's more cost effective for the team and the fans and it adds intimacy to the experience.

But for opening day this season a couple of weak markets (in recent years) showed very well. FC Dallas opened at 20,104 this season (8016 for opening day 2010). Colorado, the reigning champs, opened with a crowd of 17,139, approaching capacity. Real Salt Lake, Vancouver, LA Galaxy and Philadelphia also sold out for opening day. Decent (>70%) crowds were present for the New York, DC and Toronto. Do temper your judgement, however. Paltry crowds were present for a rebuilding Columbus Crew, New England, Chicago, as well as the second game in Dallas.

Graphics are on the right column. All data is derived from official match reports and stadium capacity.

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