Photo courtesy of Josh Jordan / San Antonio FC
TAMPA, Fla. – The United Soccer League, one of the most prominent Division II professional soccer leagues in the world, continues to showcase record-setting attendance and digital engagement trends, hitting the 500,000-spectator mark in the recently completed Week 9. USL clubs (not owned and operated by an MLS team) are averaging nearly 6,000 fans per game thus far in 2017, compared to an average of 4,700 from such clubs through Week 9 of 2016.
“The USL continues to rise by setting new attendance records every week, and driving increased digital engagement across all its platforms,” said USL President Jake Edwards. “Our fans passionately support our teams and increasingly recognize the high level of competition being delivered every week on the pitch, as well as the first-class content being produced by our clubs, our staff and USL Productions. The best is yet to come as we enter the summer and teams angle for a coveted playoff spot heading into the fall.”
Photo courtesy of Brett Hansbauer / FC Cincinnati
Record Breaking Attendance:
To date, the USL has drawn 553,851 fans through nine weeks with 30 competing teams. During the 2016 season with 29 competing teams, the league drew 554,000 fans through Week 12. This cumulative attendance represents approximately a 30 percent increase from 2016, having played two less matches than through Week 9 of last year.
Nearly 70,000 fans were in attendance over this past weekend, with six teams drawing more than 5,000: FC Cincinnati (18,441), Sacramento Republic FC (11,569, another sellout), Rio Grande Valley FC (7,788, a season high), San Antonio FC (7,414), OKC Energy FC (6,059, a season high) and Reno 1868 FC (5,711, a season high). In total thus far, the league has set 11 new attendance records and recorded 12 sellouts in 2017.
Increased Digital Engagement:
The USL continues to increase engagement of its fan base through various digital platforms, achieving the following significant milestones through Week 9 of the 2017 season:
The USL Digital Network, which provides one website platform for the league and its clubs to deliver exciting content to fans, has grown from three clubs to 20 over the past 12 months.
The USL Facebook and Twitter platforms have recorded 146 million impressions and more than 1 million engagements on its content thus far in 2017, an increase of 91 percent and 47 percent, respectively, over 2016.
YouTube viewership for regular-season matches has surpassed 10.5 million minutes through Week 9, a 14 percent increase from 2016 at this point.
Overall, the USL and its clubs’ social media platforms reaches a follower base of 1.3 million fans and growing.
Photo courtesy of David Calvert / Reno 1868 FC
2017 Attendance Milestones:
March 22, 2017: In its stadium debut, Rio Grande Valley FC opened H-E-B Park with a sellout crowd of 9,700 on hand for its exhibition match against Liga MX side C.F. Monterrey.
March 25-26, 2017: A total of 58,145 spectators attended USL Kickoff Weekend (13 games), a USL record for an opening weekend attendance. (previous record: 42,257 in Week 1 of 2016 – also 13 games)
March 25, 2017: The Richmond Kickers drew a club-record crowd of 8,021 to City Stadium during a 1-0 victory against the Harrisburg City Islanders. (previous record: 6,123 against the Charleston Battery on Sept. 17, 2016)
March 25, 2017: The Tampa Bay Rowdies set an Al Lang Stadium-record attendance with 7,710 on hand for the team’s 1-0 victory against Orlando City B.
April 15, 2017: Second-year side FC Cincinnati set a USL home-opener attendance record of 23,144 during its 4-0 win against Saint Louis FC. (previous record: 20,231 by Sacramento Republic FC in 2014)
April 23, 2017: Newly branded Phoenix Rising FC brought in a club-record crowd of 7,162 for its 4-3 victory against the Swope Park Rangers at Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex. It also marked the team’s third consecutive sellout.
May 10, 2017: The Portland Timbers 2 drew a club-record 7,277 fans to Providence Park during its scoreless draw against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC.