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[UPDATED] I Can Read The Letters Painted On Your Seats: MLS Attendance Analysis

[Editor's note: The great mk_27 gives us another article worthy of the title of "Stat King."]

Some teams put on a better show than others.  Some games have been played in extreme heat, torrential rain, and snow.  Some stadiums are aesthetically pleasing or close to a population center while others are old, ugly, and far away.  I don't care.  I've grown weary of the excuses from fans of teams that consistently underachieve at the gates while teams in other markets blaze ahead.  I want soccer to flourish across the country (and in Canada too, I guess), and while I am encouraged by some of the passionate displays of support around the league, I am disappointed by the ones that haven't risen with the tide.

It would be easy to jump all over the teams lagging behind one-by-one at this point, but the numbers will do that on their own.  Hit the jump for a look at league attendance through mid-June...

Chicago Fire
Sat 3/26 vs Sporting KC - 12,157
Sun 4/17 vs Galaxy - 18,203
Sat 4/23 vs Dynamo - 12,473
Sat 5/7 vs Whitecaps - 11,680
Sat 5/28 vs Earthquakes - 11,926
Sat 6/4 vs Sounders - 13,839
Toyota Park Capacity - 20,000

Chivas USA
Sat 3/19 vs Sporting KC - 18,122
Sat 3/26 vs Rapids - 13,027
Sat 4/9 vs Crew - 13,385
Sat 4/30 vs Revolution - 14,058
Sat 5/21 vs Galaxy - 27,000 (shared stadium)
Wed 6/1 vs Whitecaps - 11,753
Sat 6/4 vs Timbers - 14,076
Sat 6/18 vs FC Dallas - 11,253
Home Depot Center Capacity - 27,000

Colorado Rapids
Sat 3/19 vs Timbers - 17,139
Sun 4/3 vs DC United - 9,857
Fri 4/22 vs Sounders - 14,185
Sat 4/30 vs Fire - 11,789
Sun 5/22 vs Toronto FC - 13,598
Sat 5/28 vs Sporting KC - 16,439
Sat 6/4 vs Union - 12,779
Sat 6/18 vs Galaxy - 18,277
Dick's Sporting Goods Park Capacity - 18,000

Columbus Crew
Sat 3/26 vs Red Bulls - 10,306
Fri 4/1 vs FC Dallas - 14,549
Sat 4/16 vs Sporting KC - 7,695
Sat 4/30 vs Whitecaps - 11,298
Sat 5/7 vs Sounders - 7,148
Sat 5/28 vs Chivas USA- 9,431
Wed 6/8 vs RSL - 9,650
Sun 6/12 vs Fire - 13,498
Crew Stadium Capacity - 20,145

DC United
Sat 3/19 vs Crew - 18,132
Sat 4/9 vs Galaxy - 26,622
Thu 4/21 vs Red Bulls - 18,052
Wed 5/4 vs Sounders - 11,254
Sat 5/7 vs FC Dallas - 11,504
Sat 5/14 vs Rapids - 12,499
Sat 6/11 vs Earthquakes - 14,105
RFK Stadium Capacity - 46,000

FC Dallas
Sat 3/19 vs Fire - 20,145
Sat 3/26 vs Earthquakes - 11,022
Fri 4/8 vs Rapids - 12,261
Sun 5/1 vs Galaxy - 21,867
Wed 5/11 vs Toronto FC - 8,145
Sat 5/14 vs Union - 12,109
Sun 5/22 vs RSL - 10,550
Sat 6/4 vs Revolution - 10,363
Sun 6/12 vs Sporting KC - 10,450
Pizza Hut Park Capacity - 21,193

Houston Dynamo
Sat 3/19 vs Union - 19,385
Sun 4/10 vs Whitecaps - 12,047
Sun 4/17 vs Revolution - 15,176
Fri 4/29 vs DC United - 20,577
Wed 5/4 vs Rapids - 13,206
Sat 5/21 vs Red Bulls - 25,314
Sat 5/28 vs FC Dallas - 16,709
Sat 6/11 vs Chivas USA - 19,333
Sat 6/18 vs Crew - 13,039
Robertson Stadium Capacity - 32,000

Los Angeles Galaxy
Sun 3/20 vs Revolution - 27,000
Sat 4/2 vs Union - 24,998
Sat 4/23 vs Timbers - 23,719
Sat 5/7 vs Red Bulls - 27,000
Sat 5/14 vs Sporting KC - 19,763
Sat 5/21 vs Chivas USA - 27,000 (shared stadium)
Wed 5/25 vs Dynamo - 14,458
Fri 6/3 vs DC United - 20,036
Sat 6/11 vs Toronto FC - 20,675
Home Depot Center Capacity - 27,000

New England Revolution
Sat 3/26 vs DC United - 12,914
Sat 4/2 vs Timbers - 7,114
Sat 4/9 vs RSL - 7,970
Sat 4/23 vs Sporting KC - 11,414
Sat 5/7 vs Rapids - 11,755
Sat 5/14 vs Whitecaps - 14,186
Sat 5/28 vs Galaxy - 21,793
Wed 6/15 vs Toronto FC - 6,680
Sat 6/18 vs Fire - 14,246
Gillette Stadium Capacity - 68,756

New York Red Bulls
Sat 3/19 vs Sounders - 20,982
Sat 4/2 vs Dynamo - 13,664
Sat 4/16 vs Earthquakes - 14,308
Sat 4/30 vs Sporting KC - 20,636
Sun 5/15 vs Chivas USA - 16,365
Wed 5/25 vs Rapids - 18,081
Sat 6/4 vs Crew - 20,393
Fri 6/10 vs Revolution - 21,201
Red Bull Arena Capacity - 25,000

Philadelphia Union
Sat 3/26 vs Whitecaps - 18,591
Sat 4/9 vs Red Bulls - 19,027
Sat 4/16 vs Sounders - 15,149
Sat 4/30 vs Earthquakes - 18,279
Wed 5/11 vs Galaxy - 19,178
Sat 5/21 vs Fire - 18,372
Sat 6/11 vs RSL - 18,728
PPL Park Capacity - 18,500

Portland Timbers
Thu 4/14 vs Fire - 18,627
Sun 4/17 vs FC Dallas - 18,627
Sat 4/30 vs RSL - 18,627
Fri 5/6 vs Union - 18,627
Sat 5/21 vs Crew - 18,627
Sun 5/29 vs DC United - 18,627
Sat 6/11 vs Colorado Rapids - 18,627
Sun 6/19 vs Red Bulls - 18,627
JELD-WEN Field Capacity - 18,627

Real Salt Lake
Sat 3/26 vs Galaxy - 20,507
Wed 4/13 vs Rapids - 15,513
Sat 5/7 vs Chivas USA - 14,365
Sat 5/14 vs Dynamo - 16,301
Sat 5/28 vs Sounders - 14,674
Sat 6/4 vs Whitecaps - 15,174
Sat 6/18 vs DC United - 16,841
Rio Tinto Stadium Capacity - 20,000

San Jose Earthquakes
Sat 3/19 vs RSL - 10,525
Sat 4/2 vs Sounders - 10,276
Sat 4/9 vs Toronto FC - 8,928
Sat 4/23 vs Chivas USA - 10,525
Sat 5/14 vs Crew - 9,142
Sat 5/21 vs Revolution - 9,736
Sat 6/4 vs Dynamo - 9,270
Buck Shaw Stadium - 10,300

Seattle Sounders
Tue 3/15 vs Galaxy - 36,443
Fri 3/25 vs Dynamo - 36,204
Sat 4/9 vs Fire - 36,223
Sat 4/30 vs Toronto FC - 36,287
Sat 5/14 vs Timbers - 36,593
Sat 5/21 vs Sporting KC - 36,098
Wed 5/25 vs FC Dallas - 36,026
Sat 6/11 vs Whitecaps - 36,502
Qwest CenturyLink Field Capacity - 67,000

Sporting Kansas City
Thu 6/9 vs Fire - 19,925
Fri 6/17 vs Earthquakes - 18,467
Livestrong Sporting Park Capacity - 18,467

Toronto FC
Sat 3/26 vs Timbers - 20,086
Sat 4/2 vs Chivas USA - 18,968
Wed 4/13 vs Galaxy - 22,453
Sat 4/16 vs DC United - 16,313
Sat 4/23 vs Crew - 20,145
Sat 5/7 vs Dynamo - 20,259
Sat 5/14 vs Fire - 18,674
Sat 5/28 vs Union - 20,122
Sat 6/4 vs Sporting KC - 19,962
Sat 6/18 vs Sounders - 21,839
BMO Field Capacity - 20,000

Vancouver Whitecaps
Sat 3/19 vs Toronto FC - 22,592
Sat 4/2 vs Sporting KC - 20,518
Wed 4/6 vs Revolution - 19,294
Sat 4/16 vs Chivas USA - 20,809
Sat 4/23 vs FC Dallas - 21,000
Wed 5/11 vs Earthquakes - 15,608
Sat 5/28 vs Red Bulls - 21,000
Sat 6/18 vs Union - 20,168
Empire Field Capacity - 27,528

  • The Beckham Bump clearly still exists - of the 10 teams that hosted the Galaxy, 9 enjoyed their highest attendance numbers when his team was in town (even if he wasn't).  The next highest draws were home openers and games against the Red Bulls.
  • Turnstiles at JELD-WEN Field are operated by super-advanced robot ushers who stop the works exactly as the 18,627th fan checks in.
  • Friday night games seem to be working fairly well across the league, but midweek games are still weak in most markets.
  • Attendance figures for the Sounders read like dueling bids on The Price Is Right.
  • 13 games have failed to draw more than 10,000 fans, and only 4 of those were in San Jose, where the stadium holds just a touch over 10k.
  • Few "rivalries" arbitrarily designated by the teams or the league have drawn a noticeably larger crowd.

So what can be done to get things going?  Winning helps, but most of the teams at the lower end have been successful on the pitch.  Should Columbus even bother building a new stadium?  Think another owner could do something interesting in New England, since the crowd on hand to witness the dismantling of the USMNT at the hands of Spain a few weeks ago was almost exactly 10 times the size of the Revs-TFC crowd last Wednesday?  Do the Fire need to bring in another recognizable name?  Are you willing to design a monorail system for the people of Dallas who don't know how to get to Frisco?  Leave your thoughts below!

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