MLS Attendance Analysis: Week 30

Discussion in 'MLS: News & Analysis' started by edwardgr, Oct 2, 2011.

  1. edwardgr

    edwardgr Moderator
    Staff Member

    Mar 6, 2006
    Seattle
    Club:
    Seattle Sounders
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Okay after some of the talk late last week the disclaimer is back. Its an oldie but a goodie.

    Remember in this thread we discuss the:
    (AAQ = Attendance Analysis Quotient. This figure is an overall attendance assessment, calculated from the weighted values of average attendance, median attendance, <10K percentage and >20K percentage. A lower figure represents a better attendance performance.)
    This is a slight change from Andy's old formula which used simple ordinal values and provided a full ranking point separation for two numbers that may have been within a percentage. This ordinal system did not allow for fine differences to be seen, and may have painted a somewhat skewed view of the numbers (though to be honest there is not much difference in the two end of season sets).

    The formula to find the weighted value for each column is:

    Take the annual value and subtract it from the Max value for it's column. Then take that result and divide it by the (Max-Min) for its column. For example, for the average column

    17410 is the max
    13756 is the min
    3654 is the difference

    To calculate the derived value for 2010
    Subtract 16675 from 17410 to get 735.
    Divide 735 by 3654 then mulitply by 100* to get 20

    *Note that this step is new as some people thought whole numbers would be easier to read.

    MLS Attendance is based on tickets distributed not tickets scanned. Therefore if a team sells or distributes X number of tickets, then X is the attendance for that match. Even if 0 people showed up for whatever reason, X would still be the official attendance. There are a number of reasons actual attendance may be lower or higher than the announced. If you believe that the attendance was more or less than reported please use the Perceived Attendance thread to discuss that.

    Okay so I guess you guys aren't ready for that, but your kids are gonna love it.
     
  2. edwardgr

    edwardgr Moderator
    Staff Member

    Mar 6, 2006
    Seattle
    Club:
    Seattle Sounders
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Now on to the numbers. Holy (()&*)*#*$*%^#&%*(&$#&*(^(#(^*(*&(^%$#. I think that that sums it up. This season is so effing amazing. 1996 had 6 of the top 50 attendances all time, this season will have 2 unless Vancouver opens more for any of their last matches. And yet this year is going to obliterate the 1996 numbers. And depending on how the numbers fall we could actually end up first in each of the four categories.

    This past weeks matches:

    Code:
    Kansas City	17838
    Real Salt Lake	20762
    Philadelphia	17963
    Houston  	17544
    Toronto FC	20132
    New England	21022
    Colorado 	13920
    San Jose 	10525
    Los Angeles	27000
    Columbus	15566
    Vancouver	21000
    Chivas USA	16134
    [B]Total       	219406
    [COLOR="Red"]Average  	18284[/COLOR][/B]
    This upcoming week is a mini week but I am not going to combine it with next week, because of how split up the matches are this week.
     
  3. edwardgr

    edwardgr Moderator
    Staff Member

    Mar 6, 2006
    Seattle
    Club:
    Seattle Sounders
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Now for those amazing numbers. 281 of 306 matches are done or 91.8% of the season. Of those 281, 178 have topped 15k. We have not had a sub 10k match in 96 matches, or since mid July. Assuming New England stays strong this weekend we will hit 100 this week!

    Current Season:
    Code:
    Current	Average	Median	<10k	>20k	AvgPts	MedPts	<10kPts	>20kPts	AAAQ	AAAQRnk	Date
    1996	17458	15209	22.4%	26.5%	3	37	55	2	98	3	9/11
    1997	14398	12524	25.2%	15.0%	76	83	65	74	298	13	9/17
    1998	14208	11522	27.3%	15.3%	81	100	72	72	325	15	9/16
    1999	14339	12973	33.0%	14.8%	78	75	91	75	319	14	9/25
    2000	13422	12544	35.8%	10.8%	100	83	100	100	383	16	8/30
    2001	14735	13361	26.2%	16.6%	68	69	68	64	269	11	8/26
    2002	15418	13665	18.6%	16.3%	52	64	43	66	224	8	9/7
    2003	14724	13439	23.9%	18.1%	69	67	60	54	251	10	10/11
    2004	15384	13122	26.8%	24.6%	53	73	70	14	209	7	10/2
    2005	14947	12409	29.0%	17.0%	63	85	77	61	287	12	10/1
    2006	15060	13196	21.0%	16.5%	61	72	51	64	247	9	9/30
    2007	16497	15033	8.4%	26.8%	26	40	9	0	75	2	10/6
    2008	16330	15024	11.4%	24.9%	30	41	19	12	101	5	10/12
    2009	15845	14525	16.0%	19.9%	42	49	34	43	168	6	10/7
    2010	16532	15050	7.7%	22.3%	25	40	7	28	100	4	10/9
    2011	17575	17418	5.7%	26.0%	0	0	0	5	5	1	10/2
    
    Historical End of Season:
    Code:
    EOS	Average	Median	<10k	>20k	AvgPts	MedPts	<10kPts	>20kPts	AAAQ	AAAQRnk	Date
    1996	17410	15093	21.9%	26.3%	0	7	54	20	81	4	9/22
    1997	14606	12733	25.0%	16.3%	77	75	65	78	295	12	9/28
    1998	14312	11871	26.6%	16.1%	85	100	71	79	335	14	9/27
    1999	14282	12973	32.3%	15.1%	86	68	92	85	331	13	10/10
    2000	13756	12690	34.4%	12.5%	100	76	100	100	376	15	9/9
    2001	14961	13431	26.6%	17.7%	67	55	71	70	263	10	9/9
    2002	15821	14108	17.1%	18.6%	43	36	36	65	179	6	9/22
    2003	14900	13719	23.3%	18.0%	69	47	59	68	242	9	10/26
    2004	15549	13223	24.7%	25.3%	51	61	64	26	202	8	10/17
    2005	15112	12619	27.1%	17.7%	63	79	73	70	284	11	10/16
    2006	15426	14113	19.3%	18.2%	54	36	44	67	201	7	10/15
    2007	16767	15353	8.2%	29.7%	18	0	3	0	20	1	10/21
    2008	16460	15188	11.0%	24.8%	26	5	13	28	72	3	10/26
    2009	16037	14686	14.7%	20.9%	38	19	27	51	135	5	10/25
    2010	16675	15332	7.5%	22.5%	20	1	0	42	63	2	10/16
    
     
  4. edwardgr

    edwardgr Moderator
    Staff Member

    Mar 6, 2006
    Seattle
    Club:
    Seattle Sounders
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    And finally the miscellany. Just one milestone, Portland topped 250k in road attendance in match 15. Tied for 5th fastest, so Portland appears to be a pretty good road draw as well.

    Columbus closed the gap a bit but finished down nearly 17% from last season and 21% all time. New England is now up 5% in a very bad season on the field, however, that number is still down 15% all time. So New England has room to improve, and seem to be heading in that direction. The numbers in KC are just amazingly strong, and San Jose has a good sellout streak going at the end of this season.

    Comparison to Last Season and All-Time:
    Code:
    ----Team----	Current	Last	Diff	Alltime	Diff
    Chicago    	14143	15814	-10.6%	15636	-9.5%
    Chivas USA	14373	14575	-1.4%	16053	-10.5%
    Colorado	14749	13329	10.7%	13907	6.1%
    Columbus	12185	14642	-16.8%	15465	-21.2%
    DC United	15127	14279	5.9%	17343	-12.8%
    FC Dallas  	13026	10815	20.4%	12154	7.2%
    Houston   	16924	17310	-2.2%	17245	-1.9%
    Kansas City	17678	10287	71.8%	10909	62.0%
    Los Angeles	23106	21437	7.8%	21973	5.2%
    New England	13292	12608	5.4%	15787	-15.8%
    Philadelphia	18201	19252	-5.5%	19252	-5.5%
    Portland   	18733	New	0.0%	New	0.0%
    Real Salt Lake	17420	17095	1.9%	16686	4.4%
    Red Bull NY	18967	18441	2.9%	16971	11.8%
    San Jose  	11928	9659	23.5%	12902	-7.5%
    Seattle    	36932	36173	2.1%	33535	10.1%
    Toronto FC	20183	20455	-1.3%	20263	-0.4%
    Vancouver	20615	New	0.0%	New	0.0%
    Overall   	17543	16566	5.9%	15502	13.2%
    
    And now the predictive which thinks we will clear 17600. Completely totally possible. In fact I think we will fall just 50k in attendance short of averaging 18k for the year. Meaning I am guessing roughly 17835 as the average.

    Current Point to Seasons End and Prediction:
    Code:
    Year	Current	End	Diff	% Diff
    1996	17458	17410	-48	-0.3%
    1997	14398	14606	208	1.4%
    1998	14208	14312	104	0.7%
    1999	14339	14282	-57	-0.4%
    2000	13422	13756	334	2.5%
    2001	14735	14961	226	1.5%
    2002	15418	15821	403	2.6%
    2003	14724	14900	176	1.2%
    2004	15384	15549	165	1.1%
    2005	14947	15112	165	1.1%
    2006	15060	15426	366	2.4%
    2007	16497	16767	270	1.6%
    2008	16330	16460	130	0.8%
    2009	15845	16037	192	1.2%
    2010	16532	16675	143	0.9%
    2011	17575	17688	113	0.6%
    
    To top the 1996 average the final 25 games need average only 15568, meaning only 389204 more in attendance is needed.
     
  5. TrueCrew

    TrueCrew Member+

    Dec 22, 2003
    Columbus, OH
    Club:
    Columbus Crew
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Fantastic work, as always.

    The Mini week shouldn't do any attendance harm:

    NY hosts LA
    Seattle hosts Chicago
    Vancouver hosts RSL
    NE hosts SJ
    Seattle hosts Philly

    Heck, we could average 20k even if no one goes to the NE game.
     
  6. bgix

    bgix Bad Penny

    Jun 29, 2009
    Seattle
    Club:
    Seattle Sounders
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Seattle hosting Chicago won't count --> It's not MLS.
     
  7. cthomer5000

    cthomer5000 Member+

    Apr 23, 2007
    Raleigh NC
    Club:
    New York Red Bulls
    The NY-LA game was sold out for a while before the original date. Also, at the last home game I noticed people in sections i've never previously seen them in before (tiny sections near the luxury boxes), so i will not be surprised if the attendance number on tuesday is the highest in RBA history.

    I also won't be surprised if the game has a lot of no-shows because it was moved 5 weeks and is now on a weeknight. And it's plain as day that there has been a regularly sizable amount of no-shows since the opening of the stadium.
     
  8. bgix

    bgix Bad Penny

    Jun 29, 2009
    Seattle
    Club:
    Seattle Sounders
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Incredible numbers. I think the most significant accomplishment of this season is the larger trends that we could see when they started happening back in '07, are now actually coming into focus. The gripe in '07 of course was that the numbers were simply the Beckham Bounce, and that it was a Novelty set of numbers. It would be hard to argue differently at the time, but now 2007 (and 1996 for that matter) are no longer the Outliers. 2011 is. We will probably have to wait another 4-5 years before we really know what this years numbers mean in the larger context, but for now it is nice to know that they are what they are.

    4-5 years from now, we may look back at this 5 year window and attribute it to the Don & Companies shrewd expansion record, with TOR-SEA-PHL-VAN-PDX causing a trend that kept new fans entering the league and boosting numbers, and that hopefully MON follows suit, followed by NY20 or someone else. If that is the case, we may be at the start of a plateau for the next few years unless/until another watershed trend occurs that can move the numbers as effectively. Of course a plateau itself would be a stability indicator, so if we don't continue setting AAAQ standards, that may not mean anything we need to be concerned with.

    Congratulations, MLS.
     
  9. skippybentley

    skippybentley Member

    Aug 9, 2009
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Here's what they will say about the last 5 years...

    1. Beckham helped bring attention to the league and increased attendance. Like any entertainment business...star power and celebrity helps to draw attention.
    2. Television coverage improved markedly in the US as demonstrated by ESPNs coverage of the World Cup. High definition coverage on NBC/Versus was a game changer in 2012.
    3. Expansion into the Pacific Northwest was hugely successful and drew on strong regional rivalries.
    4. MLS capitalized on larger trends toward urbanization with stadiums near densly-populated downtown centers near transit accesss, nightlife, and millions of sq ft of commercial and residential development.
    5. Successful shift from families....to young adults and supporters groups as the core market
     
  10. crookeddy

    crookeddy Member+

    Apr 27, 2004
    I wonder if L.A. is even bringing their stars to New York... Donovan and Beckham look exhausted.
     
  11. OlDffrNewFan

    OlDffrNewFan Member

    Aug 29, 2006
    IN
    I can't remember. Is this the first time average attendance has been higher than 1996? If so, that is a big deal.
     
  12. triplet1

    triplet1 BigSoccer Supporter

    Jul 25, 2006
    "Concerned" is probably too strong a term, but what jumps out to me is that only three "pre-contraction" markets have an average announced attendance over the median. Look further, and you see Chicago is off 9.5% from their historical average, DC United 12.8%, New England 15.8% and Columbus over 21%. So yes, I'd say the Beckham/Blanco bounce is about done, at least as far as league attendance goes.

    For me, the takeaway is that notwithstanding the dramatic turnarounds in Kansas City and New York, this burst has been and is being largely driven by the expansion teams, as you indicate. That said, it will be interesting to see how well they sustain these numbers over the next decade -- knock 10 - 20% off these averages as has happened in many of the mature markets and the picture isn't quite as rosy.

    Which isn't to say I think the league is in trouble. Announced attendance is an imperfect proxy for profitability and revenue growth, and I'm not sure it's even it should be the sole measure of whether these teams are becoming valued assets in their communities -- what Garber calls "relevance". For that I think you have to look at other factors too which are beyond this thread (local media coverage, local TV ratings, local sponsorships, social networking) to get a better idea of whether MLS is slowly moving beyond its now comfortable niche. My sense is that (ever so slowly) it is.

    The bottom line is that this is more good news than bad, but there is still work for MLS to do, and a great deal of making teams "relevant" after the initial surge in interest from a new team or a new stadium or a big name player simply requires time -- it's hard to microwave.

    People need to set their expectations accordingly IMO.
     
  13. Bremas

    Bremas Member

    Sep 30, 2009
    Kudos to Edward for all the hard work. My favorite thread.

    Okay, now for something kinda off topic. But it was mentioned.

    I have argued the good/bad of the Beckham experiment with several eurosnobs. I am in agreement with the above quote. But something brought it home for me this weekend.

    Have some old friends from way back who are huge sports fans but probably couldn't spell soccer. They took their 10yr old son (who plays soccer) to the LA/RSL game this weekend and started posting pictures (on the facebook) of Beckham on the pitch and Beckham signing their son's 'Beckham' jersey, and what not. They were excited, yes, but probably won't be season ticket holders anytime soon. Their son on the other hand, I suspect will be a LA Galaxy fan for life.

    That's how it starts.

    And good week for numbers.:)
     
  14. edwardgr

    edwardgr Moderator
    Staff Member

    Mar 6, 2006
    Seattle
    Club:
    Seattle Sounders
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Triplet,

    Your point is completely understood. I have to wonder given the previous SD Tribune articles about teams padding attendance numbers if that is no longer happening. I know we have largely weeded out the it looked less full on TV crowd from this thread. But when people do take the time to comment on it, the general theme is that the announced no longers seems as far off from the perceived. There are of course occassional exceptions, but the numbers seem more believeable for the most part. So what would attendance have been announced as 6-8 years ago, would it be the same as it was or might the numbers have been a little more accurate? So yes some of the old guard look to be down quite a bit, but how much of that is lost padding?
     
  15. AndyMead

    AndyMead Homo Sapien

    Nov 2, 1999
    Seat 12A
    Club:
    Sporting Kansas City
    One interesting factoid is that there were 160 games in 1996 and 306 games this season. The outliers - mainly on the high side had a far greater impact on pulling the 1996 average up than any such games this season.

    It's good to see the 1996 numbers finally being eclipsed, but if you look deeper, they're being completely shattered.

    We should pull up the NASL's 16th season for comparison. ;)
     
  16. VioletCrown

    VioletCrown Member

    FC Dallas
    United States
    Aug 30, 2000
    Austin, Texas
    Club:
    Austin Aztex
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    13,258 (scroll to near the bottom).
     
  17. Bubba1971

    Bubba1971 Member+

    Nov 12, 2010
    Los Angeles
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I think the next big bump will be when teams either start opening their whole stadium for rivalry games (Seattle, Vancouver) or playing in bigger venues for said games (LA, NY, Phil). Portland @ Seattle could potentially draw 60,000, as could LA @ NY. "Mega Games" (my term) could potentially bump league attendance over 25,000 average.
     
  18. Allez RSL

    Allez RSL Member+

    Jun 20, 2007
    Home
    I never would have guessed the average could be that close to 18k this season.
     
  19. dark knight

    dark knight Super Moderator
    Staff Member

    Dec 15, 1999
    Club:
    Leicester City FC
    You can still buy tickets to LA - but I'm sure it will be declared a sellout tomorrow.
     
  20. Revolt

    Revolt Member+

    Jun 16, 1999
    Davis, CA
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Hmm, NASL lasted 17 seasons. Next year, MLS's 17th season ... end of the Mayan calendar ...
     
  21. cthomer5000

    cthomer5000 Member+

    Apr 23, 2007
    Raleigh NC
    Club:
    New York Red Bulls
    Not to get totally sidetracked... I know you personally feel the front office is inflating numbers. The Galaxy game was declared sold out literally months before it's originally scheduled date.

    I also know they did release some other tickets for sale recently. I don't think it's hard to fathom that either 'held' tickets have been released or they are selling sections they hadn't previously (those small sections next to luxury boxes).

    I just find it hard to believe they would have been turning away customers months ago if this was some elaborate sellout hoax.

    Is it hard to believe this particular game was indeed sold out at the old capacity? I mean, just look at all the crowds for this game since Beckham joined the league.
     
  22. superdave

    superdave Member+

    Jul 14, 1999
    VB, VA
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    The median and average are so close together that our old argument about which one mattered, well, doesn't matter.
    It's easier to be a good draw by historical standards if you start in 2011 than if you started in 1998, or 2005.
     
  23. edwardgr

    edwardgr Moderator
    Staff Member

    Mar 6, 2006
    Seattle
    Club:
    Seattle Sounders
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    The remarkable thing is that when predicting the attendance for the remaining games I did not have to make any real stretches. I think the biggest 'stretch' I made was 53k for the Seattle v San Jose match. I believe I have read that the match was approaching 50k sold a couple weeks back so I feel comfortable with that guesstimate at least for now. Mostly it was just predicting things like LA and New York selling out their remaining games, Houston pushing 24-25k for their finale, Vancouver maintaining 21k sellouts for the final 3. I think we will get there, which is kinda mindboggling.
     
  24. edwardgr

    edwardgr Moderator
    Staff Member

    Mar 6, 2006
    Seattle
    Club:
    Seattle Sounders
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    There is some truth to that, however, most of the teams that Portland is tied with or bettered by are the original teams, not the newer expansion teams. Now granted Portland gets big road draws in Seattle and Vancouver which helps their cause, but still most of the expansion teams have actually been pretty mediocre as road draws. So far at least.

    And this remarkably well attended season certainly helps as well.*
     
  25. AndyMead

    AndyMead Homo Sapien

    Nov 2, 1999
    Seat 12A
    Club:
    Sporting Kansas City
    Which brings up another interesting point.

    All of this is happening in an era of greatly reduced capacity. Offhand I'm guessing only Seattle, New England, and DC are using fake capacity numbers. By historical comparison, most teams don't have a lot of extra seats available to sell. Now, compared, to the NFL, NBA, and NHL the capacity percentages aren't terribly impressive across the board, but they're getting there.

    It's another data point, but I think capacity % is not a relevant marker in most markets. There'll always be the problematic outliers - like when Houston plays at Reliant and so on, but then the NHL now has the Winter Classic that does much the same thing.

    We've been talking about reduced capacity and demand outstripping supply for 16 years. We're finally getting somewhere in many markets.
     

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