Taking Attendance 4/8/2024: KC is a sunshine brand

Kansas City was once one of the bright spots in American indoor soccer. The original Comets finished either first or second in average announced attendance in the first Major Indoor Soccer League every season from 1981 to 19901A year later, they slumped to just 7k per game and folded..

Today’s Comets are not yesterday’s Comets, and indoor soccer has been in a dark period, eclipsed by the outdoor game, for years now. But Kansas City has now led the Major Arena Soccer League in attendance for two straight years, the first time since 1990 the market has pulled that off. And they even grew their average by 11 percent year over year, which is another positive sign.

The MASL was flat in terms of leaguewide average attendance this season, despite losing a poorly drawing Florida Tropics team. Monterrey moved from Arena Monterrey back to the city’s ancestral home for indoor soccer, the former Monterrey Tech gymnasium, and saw attendance drop 54 percent while the team went 24-02Note: it’s not about winning.. The rest of the league was a mixed bag, adding up to the numbers you see below, which are followed by some notes.

TeamGTotalAverageMedianHighLow
Kansas City Comets 12 57,947 4,829 4,752 6,159 3,781
Utica City FC 12 38,922 3,244 3,276 3,489 2,971
Milwaukee Wave 12 38,593 3,216 3,369 4,565 1,649
St. Louis Ambush 12 30,121 2,510 2,559 3,536 1,136
Empire Strikers 12 30,017 2,501 2,177 5,013 980
Baltimore Blast *11 21,360 1,942 1,840 2,719 1,331
Chihuahua Savage 12 21,563 1,797 1,818 2,559 1,226
San Diego Sockers #11 19,048 1,732 1,682 3,110 871
Dallas Sidekicks 12 20,175 1,681 1,457 3,576 562
Harrisburg Heat 12 16,621 1,385 1,427 2,077 792
Tacoma Stars 12 14,383 1,199 1,102 2,372 627
Texas Outlaws 12 13,793 1,149 1,109 2,168 784
Monterrey Flash 12 12,444 1,037 982 1,768 324
MASL TOTAL 154 334,987 2,175 1,847 6,159 324

NOTES:

  • Monterrey saw the biggest drop year-over-year, but Baltimore (down 31 percent) and Chihuahua (down eight percent) also saw declines. Kansas City’s 11 percent rise was second to the 19 percent gain by Dallas. Most of the other teams were up or down a few points.
  • The Comets also played to 83 percent capacity, second to Utica City’s 81 percent.
  • Traditionally, indoor soccer sees a rise in average announced attendance after January 1. (Part of that is because December is traditionally a terrible month to try to sell tickets to this sport.) This season, though, attendance was off eight percent after the first of the year.

We now have 10 years of data on this league, and its leaguewide average has only varied from a high of 2,817 (in 2016-2017) to a low of 1,847 (in the COVID hangover season of 2021-2022). The good old days of the 80s (which weren’t all good, but were better than today) will never come back, but they’re going to need to show some growth here at some point. With Kansas City as an anchor, a small-market success story in Utica, and with San Diego moving into a new building this fall, perhaps stability will spur long-term gains for the league. Can the owners hold out that long? That remains to be seen.

A proposed Guadalajara expansion team didn’t get its act together in time to play this past season, and one with international superstar Ronaldinho as an investor has yet to announce a home market. Former stalwart Baltimore and longtime problem child Harrisburg could be question marks. (There are always question marks.)

Still, you can’t kill this sport, though many have tried. At least Kansas City3Which actually plays in Independence, Kansas. has some support that’s evocative of the 80s to go with its retro branding.

Kenn Tomasch

Kenn Tomasch

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