Your annual look at Detroit City FC’s home attendance numbers.
Detroit City FC attendance numbers are announced at matches and posted to the club’s official Twitter account.
Previous home attendance averages (competitive matches only):
2012: 1295 CLICK HERE for game-by-game table
2013: 1715 CLICK HERE for game-by-game table
2014: 2857 CLICK HERE for game-by-game table
2015: 3528 CLICK HERE for game-by-game table
2016: 5208 CLICK HERE for game-by-game table
Final numbers for 2017:
Two handy graphs for the visually inclined:
Notes and Fun Facts:
(1) For the first time, City drew over 4000 fans to every home match in a season (friendlies included).
(2) From 2012 to 2017, average attendance for competitive home matches has increased 358%, and overall attendance has increased 784%.
(3) Over the course of four seasons at Cass Tech (35 matches), attendance totaled 78,627 (2246 average). In two seasons at Keyworth Stadium (26 matches), attendance has totaled 140,515 (5404 average).
(4) Over the course of six seasons and 61 total home matches, City has drawn 219,142 fans.
How do we measure up?
If Detroit City FC was added to the following leagues (as constituted before the ongoing USSF-NASL debacle), their 2017 competitive match average attendance of 5925 would put them:
2nd (out of 9) in the NASL, only trailing Indy Eleven (8954).
7th (out of 31) in the USL, just behind Phoenix Rising FC (6127).
City led the NPSL in average attendance for the second consecutive year and ranked 29th out of all US men’s professional and amateur clubs, up from 31st in 2016.
For the first time, Detroit City FC’s year-on-year average attendance grew only modestly, rather than by leaps and bounds. I’m annoyed I can’t find the article with this quote, but during the playoffs Alex Wright made a comment about how the large crowds for those matches were helping to make up for regular season attendance that was a little disappointing.
Truly, 5366 is not much of an improvement from 5208, but for anyone who regularly attends DCFC matches, it’s clear that last season’s attendance counting system was borked. We like to give a hard time to leagues (MLS) and clubs (Grand Rapids) who appear to inflate their numbers, but City’s problem seems to be the opposite.
This past season, there were at least three or four matches where the announced attendance differed wildly from the eyeball test. Perhaps most egregious was the Glentoran friendly where the symbolic number of 5067 (meant to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Detroit Cougars’ 1967 season) was announced, omitting at least a good 1000 people. My eyes also get squinty when I look at the game-by-game chart and see that a regular season meeting with Ann Arbor on a Tuesday night allegedly drew 500 more people than the same matchup in the Midwest Regional Final.
Using my arbitrary, non-scientific, feelings-based adjustments, I’d conservatively put the actual regular season average somewhere around 5500, the competitive match average over 6000, and the total attendance north of the 90,000 mark. While not completely accurate, those numbers feel a little more in line with what it actually felt like in the stadium.
In last year’s edition of this post, I projected 2017’s average attendance at 6000-6500. While my adjusted numbers make this a hit, my optimism that there would be at least one match with a crowd of 10,000 was well off the mark.
As with Cass Tech, we’re learning that the listed stadium capacity for Keyworth is more generous than the reality. Once thought to be about 10,000 when fully renovated, the actual number is probably closer to 8000. Breaking that ceiling for at least one match should be the first goal for 2018, and the second should be a regular season average attendance of 6000.
This year’s schedule will include six regular season home matches, down from seven in 2017. Coupled with the uncertainty surrounding playoffs – qualification as well as hosting – it seems unlikely that last year’s total attendance of 87,965 will be matched this summer. On the plus side, there’s the potential to host a U.S. Open Cup match (or two, or more). Throw in a few marquee friendlies and total attendance shouldn’t drop off by much.