Original article appeared on BrotherlyGame.com
With less than twenty-three days until the kick-off of the 2011 regular season for the MLS, we take a look where the league has been and what is to come for the its attendance and ticket sales. Entering the sixteenth season, the league looks to draw more fans, season ticket holders and increase its average attendance across all of its markets.
Without doubt, Major League Soccer is set to have its largest season yet. The introduction of expansion clubs, Vancouver Whitecaps and the Portland Timbers as the 17th and 18th clubs, provides an opportunity for an increased number of matches (per club and overall) as well as an increase in attendance and ticket sales. The hope is that the significant gap between last year’s 240 matches and the upcoming 306 matches will not dilute the market, retaining the same number of fans throughout the extended season while lowering average match attendances.
The addition of two key soccer markets will potentially enable the MLS to draw, for the first time, over 5 million fans during a regular season. During the 2010 season, the MLS had barely broken through the 4 million barrier. It is a statistic that may come close to doubling since the inaugural 1996 season.