Photo courtesy of FC Cincinnati
TAMPA, Fla. – The United Soccer League closed out its 2016 regular-season schedule over the weekend and reported a total season attendance of almost 1.5 million for its 29 teams, a 33 percent increase from 2015.
The USL drew 1,496,493 fans compared to 1,132,218 last year. The average attendance for the league’s top 10 drawing teams was 6,724, a 25 percent increase versus 2015.
“It has been another record-breaking season for the USL and its 29 teams as the attendance numbers reflect the growth and momentum we continue to experience,” said Jake Edwards, USL President. “A 30-plus percent jump in league attendance is unprecedented in professional sports and illustrates the exceptional quality of USL and unique soccer environment our passionate fans are creating across North America.”
By the Numbers - 2016 USL Attendance:
Expansion side FC Cincinnati totaled a league-record 259,437 fans for the season and averaged a league-record 17,296 per game at Nippert Stadium. The team surpassed 20,000 in attendance on four occasions. This began with 20,497 on April 16, a USL attendance record for regular season and playoffs with 23,375 on May 14, 20,151 on July 23, and then broke its own league record with 24,376 on September 17.
Sacramento Republic FC continued its impressive attendance run totaling 172,711 fans, selling out 14 of 15 games and averaging 11,514 per game at Bonney Field. Since joining the USL in 2014, the Republic have sold out 45 of 47 regular season and post-season games.
In its second season, Louisville City FC totaled 108,269 in attendance for an average of 7,218 and recorded its first crowd of 10,000-plus at Slugger Field on June 25.
In its first season in the USL, San Antonio FC averaged 6,170 per game and surpassed the previous single-game attendance record for soccer with 8,466 on April 9 at Toyota Field.
Nine different clubs – the Charleston Battery, Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, FC Cincinnati, Rio Grande Valley FC, Sacramento Republic FC, Saint Louis FC, San Antonio FC, Toronto FC II and Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2– recorded at least one sellout during the season.
Three teams – FC Cincinnati, Louisville City FC and Sacramento Republic FC – surpassed at least 100,000 in attendance, marking the first time in USL history that multiple teams reached the milestone in a single season. Before 2016, only three times had a team reached the mark in league history.
The Top 10 USL regular season team attendances in 2016:
Team Total Attendance Avg. Attendance
1. FC Cincinnati 259,437 17,296
2. Sacramento Republic FC 172,711 11,514
3. Louisville City FC 108,269 7,218
4. San Antonio FC 92,546 6,170
5. Oklahoma City Energy FC 74,249 4,950
6. Saint Louis FC 73,841 4,923
7. Richmond Kickers 59,941 3,996
8. Tulsa Roughnecks FC 59,247 3,950
9. Rochester Rhinos 54,819 3,655
10. Charleston Battery 53,563 3,570
Overall, the USL averaged 3,439 per game and recorded 58 sellouts during the 2016 season.
The 2016 USL Cup Playoffs kick off this weekend with the divisional quarterfinal round, featuring the top eight finishers in both the Eastern and Western Conferences. The playoffs conclude on October 23 with the 2016 USL Cup Final live on ESPNU and the WatchESPN app beginning at 8 p.m. ET.