The Wash

The Wash: Soccer attendance – Washington loves Sounders and that’s about it

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The Wash is David Falk’s take on the world of soccer in The WA.

Read previous columns here.

by David Falk

Want to avoid the crowds in Washington? Start a soccer club. Thanks. I’ll be here all week.

I am a Washingtonian who is jealous—of all places—Michigan! Have you been paying attention to what is happening there in terms of lower level soccer attendance? Detroit City FC of the NPSL has sellout crowds and a rabid supporters culture. Just this year Michiganders had more to crow about – Grand Rapids FC helped build the new Great Lakes Premier League, and then drew whopping crowds of over 5,000 to matches in what amounts to the 5th Division of US Soccer.

Meanwhile, back in Washington, a state celebrated as embracing soccer in a truly deep, cultural way, everyone except Sounders FC of Major League Soccer struggles to draw fans. Frank MacDonald wrote earlier that maybe even the Sounders name has its limitations.

Washington’s PDL clubs don’t draw the national average for that league, and the Evergreen Premier League, which in part inspired the Great Lakes Premier League, has not had a break-out performer like Grand Rapids FC (or Ann Arbor FC, for that matter.)

So what’s up, Washington? We seem to love high schoolers playing minor league hockey in the WHL. Clubs in Everett, Seattle, Tri-Cities and Spokane draw quite well. We seem to be able to get out to a Rainiers or Aqua Sox baseball game now and again. The Spokane Shock of arena football are popular. That’s about where it ends.

Seattle Reign FC just drew their biggest home crowd ever, at 6,300. That dwarfs in comparison to the 21,000  the Portland Thorns just drew in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).

It seems Washington has no shortage of gifted players, leagues, clubs, and owners that want to live the dream of owning their own clubs. What we are missing is the support to keep all of our clubs afloat, and then perhaps one day even prospering.

“The STATE of Soccer” is awash with opportunities to support local clubs. So where are the rest of the fans?

Kenn.com keeps track of national soccer attendance numbers.

Grand Rapids FC of the 5th Division GLPL drew over 5,000 fans to matches in 2015. (GRFC Facebook)

Grand Rapids FC of the 5th Division GLPL drew over 5,000 fans to matches in 2015. (GRFC Facebook)

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3 thoughts on “The Wash: Soccer attendance – Washington loves Sounders and that’s about it

  1. 5000 people in the stands is 5000 – it does not matter if they are paid or in for free or reduced prices. How many of the 60,000 plus that the Sounders sometimes get did the people actually pay for the tickets. I got some free tickets a couple years ago from a friend and the price printed on the ticket was $0. He got them from his sister who got them for free somehow.

  2. I think its the concept of “Major League” the A league Sounders only drew 2-3,000 per game. In the PDL not everyone promotes the games nor has youth soccer bought into the quality of the games.

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