While Major League Soccer is the globally-recognized barometer for growth of our sport in America, a better indicator may be the excitement building in lower leagues.
The second-division United Soccer League is about to wrap up its 2017 season and has plenty of highlights and records to show for it. The league set a new record with over 2 million in total attendance while FC Cincinnati averaged more fans per game than 68% of MLS clubs.
On top of that, as a result of the league mandate that all teams play in soccer-specific stadiums by 2020, cities are rushing to build new venues and teams are seeing immediate returns.
Rio Grande Valley FC and Phoenix Rising FC both played in new soccer-specific stadiums this year and saw 250 and 300% increases in attendance, respectively. And more stadiums are on the way.
Currently, a little less than half of all USL clubs play in soccer-specific venues, meaning there will be a lot of construction happening across the U.S. in the next three years and we’re comfortable guaranteeing that 2 million USL attendance record won’t stand for very long.
Don’t believe me? Set your DVR to ESPNU at 9:00pm ET on November 13 and see for yourself.
Next Monday, Louisville City FC will take on Swope Park Rangers in the USL Cup Final. Many expect a sellout crowd of 8,000-10,000 at Louisville Slugger Field, which is a baseball venue in Kentucky, no less!
Just think about the potential of clubs like Louisville City FC once they have the facilities to capitalize on the city’s passion for the team.