Friday, November 1, 2013

Seattle Sounders set MLS record, average 44,038 fans per game

With the regular season over, Major League Soccer released its annual attendance report. To no avail, the Seattle Sounders once again topped this year’s regular season average attendance. This is the fifth straight year that Seattle has claimed a new benchmark. This year, the Sounders averaged 44,038 fans at CentruyLink Field.

Seattle is truly a soccer market. For comparison to the city’s MLB counterpart, the Sounders more than doubled the Mariners average attendance this past season. For that matter, the Sounders’ attendance is more than the average of any MLB team with the exception of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Looking across the rest of the MLS, the Sounders’ attendance rate more than doubled the next highest average, 21,770, by the LA Galaxy. Aside from the Los Angles and Seattle, only Portland, Montreal, Vancouver recorded averages exceeding 20,000 fans.
Seattle could not have attained such monstrous attendance figures without the NFL-sized capacity of CenturyLink Field. CenturyLink, also home to the Seattle Seahawks, is one of four MLS stadiums that have a capacity greater than 40,000 fans. The other three stadiums include BC Place at 54,320 (Vancouver), Gillette Stadium at 68,756 (New England), and RFK Stadium at 47,359 (D.C.). Following these four stadiums, the next greatest has a capacity of 27,000.

Century Link Field
For the second year running, the collective MLS attendance surpassed 6 million. The league average for attendance was 18,807. More so, eleven MLS teams were able to increase their respective average attendance. Most notably the Columbus Crew increased its rate by 12 percent, FC Dallas by eight percent, New York and New England each by six percent. The Sounders’ average attendance increased by two percent.  Interestingly enough, the highly popular LA Galaxy, experienced a decline of 6 percent, which is largely attributed to the retirement of David Beckham.
The Sounders’ record is a great achievement for the team itself, the city of Seattle, and the entire MLS. Although this is just one club out of the league’s nineteen clubs, this record demonstrates the ability for continual league growth and sustainability.  For Major League Soccer franchises, growth in attendance by competing franchises is met with great acceptance. The MLS and its clubs are not simply playing for the MLS Cup; they are playing for the survival of the sport within North America.


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