Crowd Count: NWSL average attendance down despite another Portland record

After climbing in 2015 and 2016 thanks to the boost of interest following the USA's 2015 World Cup championship in Canada, attendance in the NWSL fell 8.5 percent to 5,083 fans a game. That was despite another season record set by the Portland Thorns.

2017 NWSL Attendance:
AVG. TEAM (2016 AVG.)
17,653 Portland (16,945)
6,185 Orlando (8,785)
4,578 Houston (5,696)
4,389 *North Carolina (3,868)
4,037 Seattle (4,602)
3,491 Washington (3,782)
3,198 Chicago (3,005)
2,896 Boston (3,570)
2,613 Sky Blue FC  (2,162)
1,788 FC Kansas City (3,162)
5,083 LEAGUE (5,558)
*Played in Western New York in 2016.

Better than eight MLS teams.The Thorns averaged 17,653 fans a game, breaking the record they set in 2016. Their average is currently higher than that of eight MLS teams.

By contrast, eight of the other nine NWSL teams averaged less than 5,000 a game. Six of the league's 10 teams saw drops, including both former expansion teams operated by MLS clubs.

Orlando and Houston down. Orlando's average attendance fell almost 30 percent from its inaugural season despite its move into Orlando City Stadium and its exciting playoff team. The Pride support dropped from a season-high 14,452 fans for the 2017 season opener. Houston's average of 4,578 fans a game was its lowest average in its four years in the league. It had to move one home game to Edinburg, Texas, following Hurricane Harvey.

Increase in New Jersey. Sky Blue FC had the largest increase, drawing 2,613 fans a game, up almost 21 percent for its highest average in its five seasons. Following a change in ownership, KC Kansas City suffered a drop of almost 43 percent to 1,788 fans a game, its worst in five seasons and less than a half of what it averaged in its first season in 2013.

Staying power. The NWSL's average of 5,083 fans a game still ranks second in its five seasons, a testament to its staying power. The other two women's leagues -- WUSA and WPS -- saw decreases in their second and third seasons and then folded.

Women's Pro League Attendance:
5,083 NWSL (2017)
5,558 NWSL (2016)
5,046 NWSL (2015)
4,139 NWSL (2014)
4,270 NWSL (2013)
3,518 WPS (2011)
3,601 WPS (2010)
4,490 WPS (2009)
6,667 WUSA (2003)
6,957 WUSA (2002)
8,116 WUSA (2001)

2 comments about "Crowd Count: NWSL average attendance down despite another Portland record".
  1. T L, October 4, 2017 at 8:50 a.m.

    The best year was 2001? Maybe the league needs to bring in more tecnical players that fans actually want to watch? Not just 1-2 like they did with Marta in Orlando City.  I understand womans game is less popular but we are averaging less fans than 16 years ago at a time soccer is more popular than ever in Usa and we are still at the top of womans soccer in the world. Proof that fans want to be entertained with tecnical creative players instead. Womans soccer is so political in this country all the way to youth. Even more so than mens side and these are the results.

  2. T L, October 4, 2017 at 8:54 a.m.

    That said, they must be doing something right and very different in Portland all together. My bet is they have the right structure amd mentality on youth side for both men and woman.

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