Monday, October 29, 2012

2012 Final Attendance Update

The MLS once again broke the record for average attendance and total attendance in their best year yet.

The total number of attendees for the 2012 MLS season was 6,072,854. The first time that the league has broken 6 million attendees. To put it in perspective, the MLS broke 4 million in 2010 and 5 million in 2011 for the first times, so the MLS has attendance growth has been continual. Granted the addition of teams has helped this, but overall average attendance has spiked too.

The MLS posted the highest average attendance per game in 2012 with 18,801. This puts them as the 8th highest average attendance for a football league in the world. They are behind the Bundesliga, the Premier League, La Liga, Liga MX, Serie A, Eredivisie and the Chinese Super League. This does put the MLS above leagues such as Ligue 1, the Coca-Cola Championship, and Primera A Division in Argentina. 

After fluctuation around 16,000 attendees per game for a few years (2007-2010), the MLS has started to grow as better talent, better soccer specific stadiums, and better atmospheres have created the MLS to what it is today. The MLS is not done growing, but it will be interesting to see if attendance can hold over the next few years with no new teams joining the league (besides a NY team presumably in 2014 or later). The lower attendance teams are growing though as the lowest team this year (Chivas USA) had an attendance of 13,056. Where as the past few years have had the lowest attended club be in the 9,000-11,000 range. There are a lot of positives to be seen from this year and the MLS is still a young league; there is much more to come in the next few years.

Comment on this if you want all 17 games of your team put up, if you would like a year by year of your team, or anything else. 

I will work on an article with the stats in a graph in 1996 to truly see the MLS progression.

Don't hesitate to ask for some stats or an article. I will try to get written up ASAP around my busy college exam schedule.

Team2012 Average AttendanceCapacityPercent Full2011 Average Attendance% Change from 2011 
Chicago Fire16,40720,00082.03%14,274 +14.94
Chivas USA13,05618,80069.45%14,830 -11.96
Colorado Rapids15,17518,08683.90%14,838 +2.27
Columbus Crew14,39720,14571.47%12,185 +18.15
DC United13,84619,46771.13%15,211 -8.97
FC Dallas14,19920,50069.27%
Houston Dynamo20,94622,00095.21%17,694 +18.38
Los Angeles Galaxy23,13627,00085.69%23,335 -0.85
Montreal Impact22,77220,341111.95%------
NE Revolution14,00120,00070.01%13,222 +5.90
New York Red Bulls18,28125,00073.13%19,691 -7.16
Philadelphia Union18,05318,50097.58%18,258-1.12
Portland Timbers20,43820,438100.00%18,827 +8.56
Real Salt Lake19,08720,21394.43%17,594 +8.49
San Jose Earthquakes13,29310,525126.30%11,858 +12.10
Seattle Sounders43,10438,500111.96%38,495 +11.97
Sporting Kansas City19,40418,467105.08%17,810 +8.95
Toronto FC18,15521,14085.88%20,267-10.42
Vancouver Whitecaps19,47521,00092.74%20,406 -4.56


  1. Do you have any thoughts concerning the attendance figures for the bottom dwellers. More specifically, do you think the league should consider relocating some of the perennial bottom dwellers in attendance? I know some of those teams are looking at soccer speific stadiums, but if the league continues advancing, 14k in Columbus just won't cut it in 5 years. It especially pains me being in the heart of the Southeast. I'm just curious regarding your opinion regarding expansion in the next 3-10 years. Also, some of these figures look awfully inflated. Columbus, New England, and New York (on top of a few others) raise a few red flags in that regard.

    1. Columbus will be fine. They are growing, albeit very very slowly. I have reason to believe the numbers were forged a bit this year, but all in all it will grow. Columbus is and always has been a low budget team. They don't ever have more than 1 DP and pay him very little. It's just a shame cities can't get behind a team. We need to give away free drugs at the games.

  2. Hello, can I use your data to process the post? My name is Victor. I'm from Russia and have a blog about attendance of various competitions, especially about hockey.

  3. Upon looking at your data it seems that in order for MLS to grow much more than it did this year it will take HUGE growth in the lower teams since most of the top teams are already averaging above 100% of capacity. I know San Jose gets a new stadium, but not till 2014. My guess is that if Chivas moved to San Diego and goes into Qualcomm stadium---they COULD do what Seattle is able to do and pack the place out at least on special event days.

    Of course my desire is for The Revs to relocate to Atlanta and place a new team in Boston rather than in Foxboro. I also wish the Washington group could get a stadium deal in place so that DC United could get a real home field advantage.

    FC Dallas is the biggest disappointment attendance wise in the league. I guess the old saying "build it and they will come" is not always true in sports----especially when you place it where only part of the Dallas area can get there easily.

    Thanks for all you do----I love reading your blog!

  4. Look, it's a little misleading to show overall average attendance is up 5 percent, and claim the total attendance figure is up 20 percent. You need a lot more analysis and explanation.

  5. What source do you use for these, because I've seen others claiming 18,807 for the league and Sounders with 43,144

  6. Any figures to Montreal minus the Olympic Stadium games?

  7. What is sad is that 2 of the lower attendance teams are both owned by the same guy with tight purse strings. Both Columbus and Dallas are owned by the Hunt family, who don't spend on their teams.

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