Taking Attendance 1/10/2024: MASL down slightly year-over-year

It’s hard to believe, but the Major Arena Soccer League is in its 10th season, making it only the third pro indoor league in North America to stick around for a decade or more. That fact is slightly against the run of play when you consider its attendance figures have barely moved since its launch in 2014.

Our first look at the league’s crowds so far in 2023-24 shows Kansas City on top again, with an average about 10 percent higher than its league-leading figure of 4,355 of a year ago.

Overall, the league is averaging 2,305 through its first 47 games. That’s slightly up from its final average of 2,211 last season, but down a bit from its first 47 games in 2022-2023 (which averaged 2,377). The difference is a little bigger when you take the combined numbers from this year’s teams compared to those same teams’ combined numbers last year, because the Florida Tropics – the worst-drawing team last year – are no longer with us.

Here are the numbers, and then a few notes.

TeamGTotalAverageMedianHighLow
Kansas City Comets524,4154,8834,9246,1593,781
Utica City FC310,1803,3933,3743,4893,317
St. Louis Ambush411,2412,8103,0313,5361,644
Milwaukee Wave410,0022,5012,3603,6331,649
Dallas Sidekicks49,4192,3552,2883,5761,268
Empire Strykers36,3552,1182,0532,3012,001
Baltimore Blast47,4161,8541,7892,5071,331
San Diego Sockers35,3071,7691,8542,0691,384
Chihuahua Savage47,0071,7521,9121,9581,226
Texas Outlaws34,7971,5991,3982,1681,231
Harrisburg Heat34,3031,4341,4721,6131,218
Tacoma Stars34,2751,4251,3552,102818
Monterrey Flash43,6169049031,252559
MASL TOTAL47108,3332,3051,9916,159559

NOTES:

  • Coming off a 1-23 season1The MASL does this dumb points thing like hockey where you can get a point for losing in overtime, so the Sidekicks were listed as 1-20-3, but they lost 23 of their 24 games, so they were 1-23., the Dallas Sidekicks are up a league-leading 44 percent in average announced attendance over their first four games of a year ago. San Diego’s up 19 percent, but in just three games, while Empire (plus 31 percent2Incidentally, if the Strykers’ owner thinks Marco Fabian is going to be as big a catalyst for indoor soccer as David Beckham was for MLS, he’s on something.) Utica (up 16 percent), and Kansas City are also pacing ahead of last year.
  • The biggest droppers year-over-year are Monterrey (not surprising, as the Fury moved from Arena Monterrey to the city’s ancestral home for indoor soccer at Monterrey Tech) at 60 percent, Baltimore (who is terrible and had a tumultuous off-season) at minus 43 percent, Milwaukee (which didn’t get its traditional New Year’s Eve game this season for the first time3Except for the ad-hoc COVID season of 2021. since 1996 and is down 24 percent, and Chihuahua (down about 17 percent). The rest of the league is about where they were a year ago.
  • Can things improve? Sure. These 47 games are only about 30 percent of the full schedule, but once you get to a certain point, you’re not likely to see a bunch of growth. Not long from now, you’ll see a league average that won’t diverge much from what the final number will be. (If every team held its current average the rest of the way, the MASL would finish at 2,215, almost exactly the same as last year.)

Are there success stories? Sure. Kansas City’s rebirth (after a messy ownership change a few years ago) is great to see, and Utica plays to 85 percent capacity in its arena. San Diego’s new facility comes online in the fall and, while it’s 37 miles north of the Sockers’ traditional home, it will be the best arena in the league and offer scheduling certainty and revenue retention that other clubs can’t replicate.

But a proposed Guadalajara expansion team didn’t make it to the starting line for this season, and the ballyhooed Ronaldinho-owned team has yet to make its plans public. While the league has made it to 10 years thanks in part to stubbornness (early) and a solid leadership team (since Keith Tozer, Shep Messing and J.P. Dellacamera took over), the prospects for true growth are unclear. The 80s are never coming back, but those of us who are indoor soccer lifers can take some solace in the points of pride that are emerging.

Kenn Tomasch

Kenn Tomasch

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