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Archive for April 12, 2018

April 12, 2018 — A third NWSL attendance contender?

In the five years of the National Women’s Soccer League, there have been few crowds of more than 10,000 for any individual game, and most have involved exactly two teams: the Orlando Pride and the Portland Thorns.

The home support for these two women’s pro sides have been absolutely superb, but there’s a third contender coming in this year. The Utah Royals, a team which moved over from Kansas City over the offseason, is on the verge of selling out its home opener at Rio Tinto Stadium, which will be seating about 20,000 for Saturday’s game against the Chicago Red Stars.

It’s a pretty big development, I think, one which calls into question what teams in bigger markets like Chicago, New York, Boston, and Houston are doing with their NWSL franchises.

Of course, the real test is one of time. Will the novelty wear off? Will people come back? I saw this first hand when, back in 2001, more than 30,000 came to watch the opening match of the WUSA between the Bay Area CyberRays and the Washington Freedom. By the time the league folded in 2003, the average home attendance was barely 6,600. It is certainly a cautionary tale.