(Photo via Flickr)
Much has changed since the inaugural match of the MLS back in 1996. Viewership, attendance, and interest has spiked, and the numbers exist to back the statement. First and foremost, the average attendance of the league has steadily risen.
While the numbers have increased slightly every three years, the most important conclusion drawn from the graph above is the fact that teams that were formed after 2008, average nearly, or over, 20,000 fans. This means that the MLS has done a excellent job choosing the cities in which the new expansion teams will be located. Teams in Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver are thriving. This year’s new teams, Orlando, and NYCFC, are averaging so far, 42,135, and 30,504 respectively. The MLS’s decisions so far have proven fruitful and with new expansion teams on the horizon, the MLS is getting really big, really fast. According to statista.com, not only are new teams increasing the league’s average attendance, but has even put MLS, ahead of traditional powerhouse leagues such as the NHL and the NBA.
An even more optimistic sign for the league is that the nation’s youth is becoming more heavily involved with the sport than ever. Back in 2012, SportsBuisness Daily, conducted a research to determine which age groups watch the biggest sporting events in America.
Not only does the MLS have the youngest audience, but back in 1974, the U.S. Youth Soccer Association, registered only about 100,000 players. Fast-forward to 2014, over 3 million players are registered. With the recent talk about parents concerned about their children playing football, the numbers should increase. While the MLS is nowhere near as popular as football in America, it is closing the gap on baseball and it is becoming harder and harder to argue against the growing soccer culture in the U.S.