As we inch closer to opening day (only two days now!), clubs are making their final push to sell tickets and fill their stadiums. And with each new season, brings new hope for growth in Major League Soccer attendance.
Which teams will start the year off with a bang, and which ones will fall short of expectations?
Here’s a quick look at what we can expect…
This club came out strong during its first year in the MLS. In the 2015 home opener, the team filled the Citrus Bowl with 62,510 purple-clad fans and kept the momentum rolling through the season to reach the #2 spot in MLS attendance. This year, expectations are just as high and the marketing department is in its final push to #FilltheBowl. As of today, they have sold 57,000 tickets. While it may be unfair, anything less than a sell out is a disappointment here.
New York Red Bulls
The Red Bulls are one of the favorites to finish atop the standings in 2016, so the excitement and attendance should reflect that. Important: should. With two days left, there are still a few thousand tickets available through online providers. Hopefully, filling those seats won’t be a problem in a market like New York, but given their past attendance woes, we are still cautiously optimistic.
Call us crazy, but for a team that consistently struggles to fill their stadium, Chicago could be doing much more to market ticket sales for the home opener. Based on the luke warm buzz in Chicago right now and historical attendance records, Chicago will probably fall 3,000-5,000 short of a sell out.
Houston’s staff is doing a great job marketing the final set of seats. There are still a good amount available, but we’re predicting that BBVA Compass stadium will be full and rocking for kickoff on Sunday. We’re excited to see the normally orange stadium painted black.
This one is tricky. In the past, this would be a definite “no” in terms of sell out predictions. But due to construction, the Toyota Stadium capacity will be reduced from 20,000 to 16,500 for the 2016 and 2017 seasons. This is going to make FC Dallas look a little better than they have in the past. One of their executives has already come out saying they “anticipate every match to be sold out in 2016.” How about this for comedy… FC Dallas will still be one of the worst in attendance in the MLS but they will still sell out most of their games.
San Jose Earthquakes
This one is easy. Yes, they will sell out the home opener. After upgrading to a new stadium in 2015 and exceeding capacity most games, the Earthquakes are poised to have another strong attendance year. Not to mention they continue to reinvest in the facility to make the game day experience one of the best in the league.
Another no-brainer. As long as Portland plays in the Providence Park facility, they will sell out most games. Their fan base is strong and ticket demand consistently outweighs stadium capacity. This is definitely one of the hottest tickets for MLS opening weekend and we expect the Timbers to be rockin.
This club is trending upward for attendance. They just expanded capacity for a few games this season, and we wouldn’t be surprised if they add more later down the road. Consider Vancouver another one for the home opener sell out category.
The gem of Major League Soccer. The question is not whether Seattle will sell out it’s home opener, or any other game for that matter, but by how much they will destroy the attendance competition in 2016. Can Orlando close the gap? Either way, Sunday’s home opener will be packed as always.
This one is the hardest to predict. LA always has major swings in attendance. In 2015, they sold out the home opener with 27,000 fans but just two weeks later they barely got 19,000 people into the stadium. Knowing Los Angeles residents, and the fact that it’s supposed to rain Sunday, we are predicting a non sell out for this game.