Number Crunchin’: 2016 Attendance

Photo by Detroit City FC
Photo by Detroit City FC

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

Links to previous editions:     2013     2014     2015

Data Sources:

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

NASL numbers: Soccer Stadium Digest

USL-Pro numbers: Wiki page/kenn.com

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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

Final numbers for 2016:

2016att

Continue reading “Number Crunchin’: 2016 Attendance”

Number Crunchin’: 2015 Attendance

With another season in the books, it’s time to take a closer look at this year’s attendance numbers.

Links to previous editions2013  2014

Sources are as follows:

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

NASL numbers: Soccer Stadium Digest

USL-Pro numbers: Wiki page/uslsoccer.com

PDL numbers: kenn.com

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Previous average home attendance numbers (Competitive Matches):

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

And now for this year:

2015att

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Notes:

  • The 2014 attendance record of 3398 (7/11 vs. Fort Pitt) was topped 5 times this year, and was actually lower than the regular season average of 3528.
  • City drew over 3000 for every single league match in 2015.
  • Combined attendance at this year’s three friendlies isn’t far from matching 2012’s TOTAL season attendance (8582 to 9948).
  • Since the beginning, the club’s yearly attendance averages have nearly tripled (1295 in 2012 vs. 3528 in 2015).
  • Over the course of four years and 35 home games (competitive + friendlies), City has drawn a total of 78,627 fans.

A Couple Handy Graphs:

gamegraph

yeargraph

How do we measure up?

If Detroit City FC was added to the following leagues, their 2015 regular season average attendance of 3528 would put them:

1st (out of 66) in the PDL

9th (out of 25) in USL Pro

11th (out of 12) in NASL

Additionally, when it comes to the NPSL, Chattanooga had massive crowds for their playoff matches (including over 18,000 for the League Final), but City actually had a higher regular season average attendance (3528 to 3084).

What does it all mean?

At the final league match of 2014 against Fort Pitt, around 400 people were turned away at the gate. I took this as evidence that we had effectively outgrown Cass Tech and that the club stood to lose tens of thousands of dollars in 2015 in lost ticket sales from refusing people admission.

As it turns out, we still had a little room to grow. Ownership took steps to push capacity up by a few hundred with a couple added sitting and standing areas, and I don’t believe anyone was turned away until the final stretch of Lansing-Michigan-Erie.

That being said, I do think that we’ve NOW officially outgrown Cass. There just isn’t any more space, and it doesn’t make sense to dump more money than necessary into a venue at which you don’t have a long-term future.

While all signs continue to point to Keyworth Stadium  as City’s probable next home, the timetable remains unclear. The initial estimate for the cost of renovations has slowly crept up from $1 million to $3 million to the most recent figure of $5 million. Because of this, it appears that the club will most likely remain at Cass in 2016, with the final word probably coming sometime in September or October.

One more year of the status quo wouldn’t be the end of the world, but for the club to continue growing, it needs a bigger home in 2017. Before there can be serious discussions about City moving up to a higher division, I think average attendance needs to grow to at least 5000-5500, which would put the club at or near the middle of the NASL.

Going by current growth rates, if a move to Keyworth happens, I think we could reach those numbers by the second or third year. I’ve held back on making this prediction for a couple years, but with all I’ve seen and heard over the past 18 months, I’m ready to pull the trigger and say that I think City will be in the NASL or an equivalent league by the end of the decade.

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Number Crunchin’: 2014 Attendance

One of the most popular pieces that I’ve posted on BIR is my compilation and analysis of Detroit City’s attendance numbers for its first two seasons. Now, with year three in the books, it’s time for an update.

Sources are as follows:

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

Numbers for other leagues and teams are gathered from Doherty Soccer and kenn.com.

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To recap:

2012att

2013att

And now for this year:

2014att

Notes:

  • Including friendly, regular season, and playoff games, Detroit City played 10 times at home in 2013 and 8 times in 2014. Despite this, total attendance rose by 7108 this year, a jump of 45%.
  • This year’s regular season average of 2857 nearly doubled last year’s average of 1484 (an increase of 92.5%).
  • 2012’s single game record of 1743 was topped 4 times in 2013. 2013’s single game record of 2634 was topped 6 times in 2014, with a high of 3398.
  • This year’s lowest attendance, 2147, was still higher than every single friendly and regular season game in both 2012 and 2013.
  • Over the course of three years and 26 home games, City has drawn a total of 48884
    fans.

Would you like a graph showing game-by-game attendance over a three-year period? Of course you would.

gbgatt

How do we measure up?

If Detroit City FC competed in the following leagues, their 2014 regular season average attendance of 2857 would put them:

2nd (out of 65) in the PDL

6th (out of 15) in USL Pro

10th (out of 11) in NASL, going by the spring season numbers.

What does it all mean?

Based solely on attendance, Detroit City is operating at a third division level while playing in the fourth. If you took the club and plopped it down into USL Pro without making any other changes, it would immediately outdraw more than half the teams in the league.

Before this season started, I made what I thought were some reasonable predictions: an average attendance of 1750, and at least one crowd of over 3000. These turned out to be far too conservative as the increases from 2013 to 2014 easily outpaced the growth from 2012 to 2013.

The good news is that the club’s popularity is growing exponentially; the bad news is that we’ve effectively outgrown Cass Tech.

leftout

At this year’s final regular season game, 400 people were reportedly turned away since the stadium was at capacity. At $10 per ticket, that’s $4000 lost due to lack of seating. If DCFC remains at Cass in 2015, using simple extrapolation, the club would stand to lose nearly $30,000, if not more. Luckily, I’m not the only one who’s aware of this problem.

workin

If Cass can somehow be temporarily expanded, or if a larger appropriate venue can be found, I have little doubt that next year’s attendance could creep up into the 3500-4000 range. I won’t make any predictions just yet since the stadium situation is in flux, but it’s clear that support for the club is only accelerating and we haven’t even come close to touching our ceiling.

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Number Crunchin’: 2013 Attendance

When attempting to gauge the success of American soccer clubs, particularly those in the leagues below MLS, the best metric is probably stadium attendance. Unlike the major professional sports leagues in this country, on-field success in the NASL/USL/NPSL/PDL does not necessarily result in increased popularity and financial stability. Just as an example, 5 of the 11 clubs that have won an NPSL title are now defunct.

When winning is combined with large attendance numbers, however, you can get success stories like Orlando City SC. OCSC came into being in 2011, the same year that their league, USL Pro, began play. They won the championship that year and won their second this September 7th before a league-record crowd of nearly 21,000. They’ve also led the league in attendance each year, averaging over 8000 per game this season. With that level of support, it’s easy to see why they will be joining MLS in a year or two. (It’s also easy to see why people are upset at the idea of putting an MLS expansion franchise in Miami, a city with a long track record of apathy towards its sports teams, including a former MLS club that folded!)

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I did a little research and found some excellent resources with attendance numbers for NASL, USL Pro, and PDL, but next to nothing for NPSL. (Shocking that a Mickey Mouse league that makes things up as it goes would have no way for tracking the ONE THING that can be used to judge its overall health).

http://www.kenn.com/the_blog/

http://dohertysoccer.com/

Cutting to the chase, here are Detroit City FC’s attendance numbers, followed by a bit of analysis. The numbers are listed in the match results section of DCFC’s Wikipedia pages (2012 Season, 2013 Season – this page was deleted two days ago for some reason) and are taken from the team’s Twitter feed and/or what was announced at the stadium.

2012

2012 attendance

* Denotes Friendly Match

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2013

2013 attendance

* Denotes Friendly Match

** Denotes Playoff Match

Notes:

  • Over two full seasons, DCFC has drawn at least 1000 people to every single game – regular season, playoffs, and friendlies.
  • In Year 1, the average attendance hovered around 1000 for the first half of the regular season but rose to 1567 in the second half.
  • The Year 1 record for single-game attendance (1743) was topped four times in Year 2, and the current record (2634) represents a 51% jump from that first year record.
  • From Year 1 to Year 2, DCFC’s regular season average attendance rose by a healthy 14.6%. If playoff games are included, that number rises to an outstanding 32.4%.

Comparison to other leagues:

  • DCFC’s regular season average of 1484 would’ve ranked 6th (out of 61) in the PDL, 8th (out of 12) in USL Pro, and… Dead Last in NASL (more on this below)

I won’t bore you with charts and tables of NASL attendance statistics, but I will say that the growth is impressive (2012 numbers, 2013 numbers). San Antonio has actually taken a bit of a dip from 2012, but every other team has seen their numbers increase significantly. Prime example: Minnesota United averaged 2796 fans per game in 2012. In the 2013 spring season, that rose to 5225!, an 87% jump.

The NY Cosmos are drawing over 7500 a game and with the addition of Indy and four other clubs over the next two years, the NASL is well on its way to becoming a strong and viable alternative to MLS for American soccer fans who live in those cities.

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There are those who believe that soccer will never “take off” in this country. They are too shortsighted to realize that it already has. MLS TV ratings remain modest, but there is a groundswell of support for teams in the lower leagues; Detroit City foremost in our minds. For year 3, I’d like to see us average 1700 per game and break the 3000 mark.

We’ve had a nice start, but now it’s time to take it to the next level.

[Editor’s Note: I am legally obligated by the NPSL and Detroit Public Schools to remind you that crystal meth is NOT permitted on Cass Technical High School grounds.]

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