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MLS crowds down -- but they could have been worse
by Paul Kennedy, October 28th, 2009 7AM

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[MLS] Major League Soccer average attendance declined 2.6 percent in 2009, but it could have been a lot worse. Without the expansion Seattle Sounders, who set an MLS record with an average attendance of 30,897 fans a game, MLS average attendance would have been down 9 percent.

MLS attendance was helped by the exciting playoff race in which all but three teams were still alive on the final week of the regular season. Average attendance in October climbed 4.6 percent from 16,815 fans a game in 2008 to 17,593 a game in 2009. If you throw out the one Seattle game in October, average attendance was up 0.9 percent.

Four MLS teams saw modest growth in 2009. The biggest increase was San Jose's 2.9 percent, but the Quakes' average was boosted considerably by their game at San Francisco's Candlestick Park, the pre-game to the Barcelona-Chivas match that drew 61,572. Throw out that crowd, and the Quakes' average attendance fell 21.8 percent.

Three MLS teams saw their average attendance fall more than 21 percent: New England (21.9 percent), New York (21.5 percent) and Los Angeles (21.5 percent). D.C. United and Chicago also experienced double-digit percentage declines in average attendance.

The David Beckham factor? Average attendance for Los Angeles Galaxy road games also fell more than 21 percent.

MLS Average Attendance
2009
2008
+/-
Seattle
30,897
--
--
Los Angeles 20,416
26,009
-21.5%
Toronto FC
20,344
20,120 +1.1%
Houston
17,047
16,939
+0.6%
Real Salt Lake
16,375
16,179 +1.2%
D.C. United
16,088
19,835
-18.9%
Chivas USA
15,092
15,114
-0.1%
Chicago
14,689
17,034
-13.8%
Columbus
14,447
14,622
-1.2%
San Jose
14,114
13,713  +2.9%
New England 13,732 17,580 -21.9%
New York 12,491 15,928  -21.6%
FC Dallas 12,441 13,024
-4.5%
Colorado
12,331 13,659
-9.7%
Kansas City 10,053 10,686
-5.9%
TOTAL
16,037 16,460 -2.6%

 



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