The Evergreen Premier League saw total attendance and average dip in its sophomore season. In the league’s debut 2014 season clubs reported a combined league average of 298 fans per match. This season that average fell by 61 fans to 237 per match.
There are various theories as to why the drop happened. Perhaps the “newness” of the league, or the novelty of a first season, wore a bit thin. There was also the scorching hot weather which might have driven fans to stay inside and cool for weekend matinees. There were also individual circumstances with teams that eventually affected the total league average.
Bellingham United fell from 545 to 394, a drop of 151 per match. Still, the Hammers ended up with the best average attendance in the league, despite not winning a match until the late going.
The Spokane Shadow dropped from 571 per match in 2014 to 368 in 2015. That’s a whopping 203 per match decline. Even though the Shadow had 7 prime Saturday night dates, one of them conflicted with a big Spokane event. That night the Shadow drew their smallest crowd in two seasons, 217.
Vancouver Victory FC were down a modest by noticable 41 fans per match. Yakima United FC were the only club to be up. They went from 296 per match in 2014 to 298 in 2015.
Wenatchee FC was without a stadium due to the resurfacing of the Apple Bowl. Their attendance dropped from 287 to 188 per match.
The Olympic Force took over for WestSound FC and the numbers are almost identical. WestSound FC drew 135 fans per match at Silverdale Stadium. The Force drew an average of 138 this year a few blocks away at Gordon Field.
South Sound FC isn’t having much success drawing fans to Lakewood. They averaged 165 in 2014 but dropped off to just 109 in 2015 despite another competitive season.
Things were all over the place for Seattle Stars FC, who partnered with Fuerza FC to host matches in Snohomish County. Eventually the Stars played at Starfire, Goddard Stadium in Everett, and Quil Ceda Stadium in Marysville. It didn’t catch on. Their attendance dropped a whopping 50% from 148 in 2014 to 74 this year.
The EPLWA keeps track of attendance because it is an important measuring stick of club viability and the growth of the game in Washington. The declines in 2015 are disappointing but not overly shocking. They point out the work that still remains to grow both club cultures and the sport at the home town level in our state.