Number Crunchin’: 2017 Attendance

Photo by Dion Degennaro
Photo by Dion Degennaro

Your annual look at Detroit City FC’s home attendance numbers.

Links to previous editions:     2013     2014     2015     2016

Data Sources:

Detroit City FC attendance numbers are announced at matches and posted to the club’s official Twitter account.

For this year’s NASL and USL numbers I’ve used Soccer Stadium Digest.


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.


3 thoughts on “Number Crunchin’: 2017 Attendance”

  1. Does your estimation of Keyworth’s true capacity account for the unfinished section potentially being complete this season? Just curious.

    Great write up! Keep up the awesome work.

    1. Yes, If we use the game against Midland as the baseline, Keyworth’s capacity last season was around 7500. I figure the last section to be renovated should bump that up by another 500 or so, so that’s how I got to 8000. Just my best guess going on the data we have.

  2. Glad to have you posting again. First, because it’s one step closer to the season beginning. Second, because it’s been a crazy off-season searching for news about what 2018 was going to entail.

Leave a Reply

This site is in no way affiliated with Detroit City FC or the NPSL. All words and opinions are those of the author unless otherwise noted. Reproduction of any content is permitted, provided full credit is given.