In 2011, MLS regular season attendance hit an all-time high at most stadiums. The increase is due to several factors: more big-name signings, more beautiful (and trendy) soccer specific stadiums, improved TV coverage making MLS more attractive and more interaction with supporters groups, who bring atmosphere to the events.
That interaction with supporters groups has worked both ways: reasonable restriction on language in chants was complemented by more visibility for the passionate supporters on national TV.
Top attendance leaders show the way
For the third year in a row, Seattle leads in regular season attendance – up from 30,897 in 2009, to 36,173 in 2010, to 38,496 in 2011. On October 15, Seattle drew the fourth largest crowd ever, after FC Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, to watch a soccer match when goalkeeper Kasey Keller played his final home match for 64,140 fans at CenturyLink Field.
The LA Galaxy, who showcase David Beckham, Landon Donovan and now Robbie Keane, hold the No. 2 spot. Expansion Vancouver Whitecaps, who finished last in MLS but brought in exciting players, have a strong supporters history and renovated BC Place, claim third place. Toronto, with a chaotic team but beautiful BMO Field, are fourth.
The NY Red Bulls, who brought in Thierry Henry, Rafa Marquez, Luke Rodgers and German goalkeeper Frank Rost to play in new Red Bull Arena, hold the fifth spot. Northwest expansion Portland are sixth and Philadelphia Union, in new waterfront PPL Park, are seventh. Sporting KC, recently rebranded and housed in new state-of-the-art LIVESTRONG Sporting Park, are eighth in attendance.
The only teams to fall in average attendance were Chicago, Columbus, Toronto and Philadelphia. Philly’s decrease was caused by last year playing some games at larger Lincoln Financial Field while more intimate PPL Park was under construction. Toronto had poor on-field quality and results in 2011.
Team Attendance Capacity Attendance
1. Seattle Sounders 38,495 35,700 36,173
2. LA Galaxy 23,335 27,000 21,436
3. Vancouver Caps 20,406 20,500 NA
4. Toronto FC 20,267 21,800 20,453
5. NY Red Bulls 19,691 25,189 18,441
6. Portland Timbers 18,827 18,627 NA
7. Philadelphia Union 18,258 18,500 19,254
8. Sporting KC 17,810 18,467 10,287
9. Houston Dynamo 17,694 25,462 17,309
10. Real Salt Lake 17,594 20,008 17,095
11. DC United 15,211 23,865 14,531
12. Colorado Rapids 14,838 18,086 13,328
13. Chivas USA 14,830 27,000 14,575
14. Chicago Fire 14,274 20,000 15,814
15. NE Revolution 13,222 22,385 12,986
16. FC Dallas 12,861 21,193 10,815
17. Columbus Crew 12,185 20,455 14,641
18. SJ Earthquakes 11,858 10,300 9,659
Average 17,870 21,919 16,675
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