This season, MLS attendance ended up with a nice looking number, 18,594. It wasn't quite as high as last season's number, but we're not concerned about that. We're doing this 'by the percents' thing for a third straight year, and this time around we've got a few differences to note: Unlike 2012, the league did not have an extra team with a great attendance record joining the party. Unlike both 2012 and 2011, the league did not set a record for attendance this time around, either.
That's neither here nor there, though. It's become a yearly occurrence for me to do some quick number crunching and figure out the percent of seats filled, rather than the straight attendance average. Here's last year's. That's skewed by a few numbers, specifically the huge number of seats filled every week at Seattle. The % method has its flaws as well (San Jose's tiny stadium and a few teams, Chivas included, playing in cavernous stadiums they could never fill still hurt it, in particular.)
Overall, I think it's a better indicator of just how good the attendance looks, and a much better way to see how the league is doing in comparison to the NBA or NHL, the two sports that MLS is most often compared to. (It's a fair comparison, of course. The NFL is a juggernaut in attendance and even the teams that can't fill the stadiums still have huge numbers, averaging over 50,000 a game. Major League Baseball has 81 home games a year, which makes it completely unfair, rather than the just sorta unfair we have when comparing two teams that play 41 home games to teams that play 17.)
Let's take a look. Numbers for stadium capacity came from Wikipedia articles for each respective arena, and I've rounded up on the % numbers when called for:
|TEAM NAME||ATTENDANCE||STADIUM CAPACITY||TOTAL %|
|Sporting Kansas City||19,709||18,467||107|
|New York Red Bulls||19,461||25,189||77|
|Real Salt Lake||19,218||20,213||95|
|New England Revolution||14,844||20,000||74|
|San Jose Earthquakes||12,765||10,525||121|
Goddamnit, Chivas. An enormous drop in attendance from Chivas represented the biggest change from last year's numbers, as they went from a pretty crappy but still not mind-shreddingly horrifying 48% to an all the aforementioned 31%. Yuck. A few stadiums changed their capacities, including Dick's Sporting Goods Park, and it ended up working out for the betterment of these numbers for the most part. (Indeed, the Rapids went from 81% last year to a tidy 89% thanks to an increase in attendance coupled with a slightly smaller stadium capacity.)
Funny enough, it ended up not changing at all from last season. Despite the slight drop in attendance, the stadiums remained 87% filled all season. That's a good thing. If you remove Chivas from the equation, that bumps up to a lovely-looking 90%.
Again, this number will never truly be fair until every MLS team has their own stadium to call home. (Chivas is included in this equation. I still maintain that they would be well-off trying to get a cozy little 15K seater in a different part of LA where they can cultivate their own fanbase.) Until then, it's nice to see that we're steady as she goes on growth, even if the straight numbers may be a bit lower than 2012.