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No. 1 – Stories of the Year: 1.5 Million Strong

By CHARLIE CORR -, 12/31/16, 7:00AM EST


With 33 percent jump in attendance from a year ago, USL fan base continues to grow

Photo courtesy of Louisville City FC

The USL’s successful sixth season was defined by a number of measurements, and ultimately the year boiled down to the dedicated fan base supporting their respective clubs at a rate never seen before within the league.

In 2016, the USL reached nearly 1.5 million spectators (1,496,493), an impressive 33 percent increase from the 2015 season (1,132,218).

Certainly FC Cincinnati set the standard, breaking the league single-game record on multiple occasions and surpassing 20,000 in attendance four times. But many other teams also boasted some impressive fandom throughout the year.

In fact, 2016 marked the first year in which multiple USL organizations surpassed 100,000 in attendance during one season – FC Cincinnati, Sacramento Republic FC and Louisville City FC.

Photo courtesy of FC Cincinnati

Newcomer San Antonio FC drew more than 6,000 fans per game in its first USL season, setting a club single-game attendance record with 8,466 on April 9 at Toyota Field. SAFC also was one of nine organizations to have posted at least one sellout during the year.

As strong as these numbers are, there certainly should be a boost for the upcoming 2017 campaign league-wide. Current returning clubs are looking to continue their respective attendance rise. The USL is expanding into a number of strong markets, including the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Ottawa Fury FC, both of which have established and devoted fan bases.

It is premature to put an attendance projection for 2017, but it is safe to say that the upcoming year will give the 2016 campaign a run to look forward to. 

2016: Top Stories of the Year
No. 1: 1.5 Million Strong
No. 2: Cincy Bursts onto Scene
No. 3: Red Bulls II Charge to Title
No. 4: Toros’ Hybrid Delivers
No. 5: Fury, Rowdies Make Move
No. 6: Forefront of VAR
No. 7: Fountain of Youth
No. 8: Music City Embrace
No. 9: Highlight-Reel Tallies
No. 10: International Flavor

Photo courtesy of Sacramento Republic FC