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While MLS attendance increases, the Union fall further behind

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Major League Soccer’s attendance figures for 2017 show promise for most but decline for Philadelphia

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at Philadelphia Union Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The final Major League Soccer attendance figures were released for 2017, and it was by most accounts a huge success for MLS. Atlanta United set records for both the single-game attendance record (71,824 were in attendance to watch the season’s last match against Toronto FC) and single-season attendance average at 48,200 - all while playing most of their season at Bobby Dodd Stadium. The 55,000 seat stadium has been replaced with the $1.6 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which can hold 75,000 people, and with Atlanta seemingly doing everything right as a club these records may simply be placeholders for next season.

Things were not so good however for the Philadelphia Union, who averaged just 16,812 per game this year - a 4.04% decline over last year’s total, which is the largest such decline since the 2011 season. 2011 is a bit of an anomaly, as the club had two games at the much larger Lincoln Financial Field in 2010 that skew the data.

Still, this is the first time the average attendance has dipped below the 17,000 mark. Since 2010, attendance has declined every year with the exception of 2016, which saw a 0.39% increase over 2015 (which translates to 68 more people a game). Attendance is 7.92% off of the 2011 mark and 12.68% off of the inflated 2010 totals.

What can the Union realistically do to increase attendance? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, and in the comments section below and we’ll put together some of your best ideas into a later article.