NWSL Attendance Watch: Week 17

Keith Jorstad August 5, 2013 17

Thorns FC supporters group Rose City Riveters raised a tifo at the last regular season home game in JELD-WEN, which saw an NWSL record crowd of 17,619 fans. (Photo copyright Meg Linehan for The Equalizer)

This was the biggest week of the season for the NWSL.  The league had six games as the season is winding down, with Portland hosting twice.  Every hosting team drew more fans than they have averaged for the year.  Chicago pulled off a huge crowd with their first sellout of the year.  With all of the fans from this week, the league has now easily crossed the 300,000 mark.

Now onto Portland.  With two home games this week, Portland drew over 30,000 fans for the week.  That is more fans than six of the other teams have drawn at home all year.  The Thorns saw a huge crowd for their Wednesday night game, and then broke the league record for attendance for the FOX Soccer game of the week.

There are seven games next week with the playoff picture shaping up.  There should be a big crowd on Saturday to see the Flash take on the Thorns.

Here are the NWSL’s attendance numbers through Week 17 (77 games):

Average Attendance: 4,287
(Average Attendance Without Portland’s Home Games: 2,781)

Attendance Standard Deviation: 4,007

Median Attendance: 2,899

Total Attendance to date: 330,086
(Total Attendance Without Portland’s Home Games: 183,565)

Week Seventeen Attendance Numbers:

Washington Spirit @ Western New York Flash (Sahlen’s Stadium) – 3,967

Sky Blue FC @ Portland Thorns FC (JELD-WEN Field) – 13,769

Seattle Reign FC @ Chicago Red Stars (Benedictine University Sports Complex Stadium) – 3,400 (sellout)

Western New York Flash @ Boston Breakers (Dilboy Stadium) – 2,899

Washington Spirit @ Sky Blue FC (Yurcak Field) – 2,172

FC Kansas City @ Portland Thorns FC (JELD-WEN Field) – 17,619

Average Home Attendance
Team Games Average Capacity
Portland Thorns FC 11 13,320 65%
FC Kansas City 10 4,597 75%
Western New York Flash 8 3,803 28%
Washington Spirit 8 3,626 81%
Boston Breakers 9 2,397 88%
Seattle Reign FC 10 2,151 60%
Chicago Red Stars 10 1,675 48%
Sky Blue FC 11 1,666 33%


  • Boston Red

    Here’s a chart showing the WNBA attendance over the years. A handful of teams have averaged more than the Thorns did this year:


    • dt

      That was like a decade ago.

      • Lorehead

        According to that page, the last time was exactly a decade ago: the Washington Mystics in 2003.

  • Elaine

    I believe that the 17,618 attendance number in Portland is larger than any single crowd during the three-year duration of WPS (2009-2011). The total season attendance to date 330,086 is also higher than any season of WPS. Although if you exclude the numbers from Portland, the total of 183,565 is low compared to the 3 seasons of WPS (2009-327,878) (2010-313,272) (2011-190,884). But with three more weeks left, I’m sure this first year of NWSL will be higher in attendance than the previous league, with or without Portland.

    • Steglitz49

      The median attendance of 2899 is excellent. It is representative because 4 teams are above and 4 teams below, and it is slightly (ca 100) higher than the mean without Portland.

      Given these fine numbers, the NWSL ought to take a risk and play the SFs of the play-offs on neutral grounds such as DC and Seattle, and the final in Portland (though, as I have typed before, I favor the Rose Bowl for the final).

      DC and Boston might want to look for larger stadia (temporary seating, as I think Boston does already), and KC definitely should.

      • PMT

        DC should stay right where it is for the time being. There’s no indication right now of how much drop off there will be between seasons, especially with a team like DC that’s horrible. There’s already been noticeable drop off at the Plex from the season beginning. Until you know that the fan base will return after such a horrendous outing, there should be no plans to move onto bigger and better. There’s discussion of possible partnering with DC United when/if their new stadium goes about in 2016.

        • KT5000

          I really hope DC’s fans return and I won’t be surprised if they do. They are a bright spot in the league without a doubt! The Spirit are missing results but they aren’t so far gone that a few changes won’t make a huge difference and make them more competitive.

    • Silver Frost

      Through 10 home games, Portland has earned an average attendance number
      of 12,890 at JELD-WEN Field. Compared with MLS attendance numbers,
      Thorns draw larger average crowds than Chivas USA (8,715) and just
      slightly less than three other MLS clubs: D.C. United (13,688), New
      England (13,745) and Chicago (13,775). Worldwide based on 2012-13
      attendance, Thorns FC have earned higher average attendance than seven
      men’s teams in the Dutch Eredivisie (Netherlands), five teams in Ligue 1
      (France), three teams in Serie A (Italy) and England’s npower
      Championship (the step below the Premier League) and two teams in La
      Liga (Spain).

  • Steglitz49

    How many at Yurcak Field were traveling DC Ultras? I guess 500 but maybe it was more? Does anyone know?

    • steve

      Couldnt find a DC fan in the stadium. Felt like there was a lot more than 2,100

      • Steglitz49

        How disappointing. I was hoping for some good old oldfashioned Ultras. Maybe next year!

  • Boston Red

    From Kenn’s Attendance Project, you can see WUSA and WPS attendance averages by team over the years.

    http://www.kenn.com/the_blog/?page_id=4543 WUSA

    http://www.kenn.com/the_blog/?page_id=4410 WPS

    Looks like only the Washington Freedom in 2001 (14,421) beat the Thorns average. Only Atlanta in the same year is the only other US women’s soccer team to have 10k+ attendance average – 11,092. I think there may have been some doubleheaders or other gimmicks that got attendance that high.

    Kenn notes:

    Keep in mind that the early-season WUSA numbers were all skewed by
    either the inaugural match in Washington (which drew 34,148) or
    doubleheaders with MLS teams.

    • Steglitz49

      Have those leagues not gone the way of the Dodo? Am I missing something?

      • Boston Red

        Do you sometimes comment just to be difficult? It’s called “context.” It’s useful to know and it shows how well the Thorns have done in comparison to other women’s soccer leagues here. And it saves someone having to go Google for the same information.

        • Steglitz49

          Interpret your figures, please. What is your working idea to secure the NWSL? What is your primary aim? What are your conclusions?

          If Atlanta had such good numbers back them years, are you proposing that the expansion teams be in Texas and somewhere else in the south given the excellent fan support in DC which have only won one game? Is that your message? In keeping with that, why is everyone hell bent on having expansion team in Toronto who can’t be bothered with WC-15?

          In spite of their dreadful season, DC are averaging 50% more than Boston! KC and DC suggest that the South may be worthy of an effort.

          (Finally, I suggested as a comment in the very first attendance report that the median should be reported because they correct for outliers, which Keith picked up on.)

          • Boston Red


            They are just numbers. Do with them as you like. I don’t have a message except maybe “The Thorns numbers look really good compared to the best years of WPS & WUSA — in a league that’s trying to save money.”

  • Bohratom

    Sad to see my Jersey Sky Blue attendance is so low especially considering that 6 members of the USWNT are from here.