Seattle Sounders break MLS attendance record, average 44,038 fans per game

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Major League Soccer attendance statistics are in and, once again, the Seattle Sounders are setting records.

For the fifth year running the Sounders set an MLS attendance record by averaging 44,038 fans per game at CenturyLink Field.

For contextual purposes, that’s higher than any team in Major League Baseball, save the Los Angeles Dodgers who averaged 46,216, and more than double the average attendance of the Seattle Mariners.

Comparing that number to the Premier League, Seattle trumps the average attendance of Sunderland A.F.C. by an average of 3,500 fans. The Stadium of Light, which holds 49,000 supporters, recorded an average of 40,544 fans during the 2012-13 season.

The Sounders’ attendance rate was also more than double any other MLS team, with the LA Galaxy’s 21,770 next in line and only three other teams (Portland, Montreal, Vancouver) averaging 20,000 fans or more.

While Seattle’s attendance rate is impressive, the numbers would not be possible but for the NFL-sized capacity of CenturyLink Field. The Link, along with Vancouver’s BC Place (54,320), New England Revolution’s Gillette Stadium (68,756) and D.C. United’s RFK Stadium (47,359), is one of four MLS stadiums that possesses the capability of putting 40,000+ fans into the seats. No other MLS stadium has a capacity above 27,000.

(MORE: Up next for the record-setting Sounders, the Cosmos’ American attendance mark)

For the second year in a row total MLS attendance topped out at 6 million, while the league average took a slight dip (1.1%) from 18,807 in 2012 to 18,594 fans in 2013.

Eleven MLS teams increased their average attendance – Columbus Crew (12%), FC Dallas (8%), New York (6%), New England (6%), Vancouver Whitecaps (3%), Colorado Rapids (2%), Seattle Sounders (2%), Sporting KC (2%), Portland (1%), Real Salt Lake (1%), Toronto FC (.08%) – while eight teams experienced decreases. Notable drops included Montreal, down 10% as the Impact moved from Olympic Stadium to the Stade de Saputo, and LA Galaxy, down 6% following the departure of David Beckham.

It was hardly surprising that the dysfunctional Chivas USA was the team with the most significant decrease in average attendance, plunging 36 percent to 8,366 fans a game. So on behalf of all MLS fans let me just say – muchas gracias, Jorge Vergara.

2013 MLS Attendance:
AVG. TEAM (+/-)
44,038 Seattle (+2%)
21,770 LA Galaxy (-6%)
20,674 Portland (+1%)
20,603 Montreal (-10%)
20,097 Vancouver (+3%)
19,923 Houston (-5%)
19,709 Sporting KC (+2%)
19,461 New York (+6%)
19,218 Real Salt Lake (+1%)
18,131 Toronto FC (+.08%)
17,867 Philadelphia (-4%)
16,080 Columbus (+12%)
15,499 Colorado (+2%)
15,373 FC Dallas (+8%)
15,228 Chicago (-7%)
14,844 New England (+6%)
13,646 D.C. United (-1%)
12,765 San Jose (-4%)
8,366 Chivas USA (-36%)
18,594 LEAGUE (-1.1%)

Highest MLS Attendance:
AVG. TEAM (+/-)
44,038 Seattle (2013)
43,144 Seattle (2012)
38,496 Seattle (2011)
36,173 Seattle (2010)
30,897 Seattle (2009)
28,916 Los Angeles (1996)
26,009 Los Angeles (2008)
24,252 Los Angeles (2007)
24,204 Los Angeles (2005)
23,898 MetroStars (1996)

Lowest MLS Attendance:
AVG. TEAM (+/-)
7,460 Miami (2000)
7,906 Dallas (2003)
8,072 Kansas City (1998)
8,183 Kansas City (1999)
8,336 Chivas USA (2013)
8,689 Miami (1999)
9,058 Kansas City (1997)
9,088 Dallas (2004)
9,112 Kansas City (2000)
9,635 San Jose (2010)