March 6, 2020

Recent MLS Expansion Teams Ride Attendance Momentum Into Year Two

SBJ Atlas

Second-year MLS club FC Cincinnati – along with new expansion sides Inter Miami CF and Nashville SC – are set to benefit from recent momentum in overall attendance for the league.  

Recent expansion teams have set the tone in inaugural to second season attendance. Nine expansion clubs have been introduced in the past decade, with most posting year-to-year gains based on percent capacity over their first and second seasons. Of the first five clubs during this period, the Philadelphia Union (22%) and Montreal Impact (10%) both saw growth from their inaugural season to their second season. The Portland Timbers saw no year-to-year change but did achieve 100% attendance for the club’s first two seasons.   

The latter four clubs – Orlando City FC (2%), Atlanta United FC (5%), Minnesota United FC (15%) and LAFC (1%) – all experienced attendance growth from year one to year two. Additionally, all teams witnessed their total attendance in year two jump above their total potential stadium capacity, indicating the four newest MLS teams were operating above capacity in just their second seasons.

NOTE: Total attendance for each of the nine expansion teams divided by their total potential stadium capacity for inaugural and second seasons. Some clubs played their home games in multiple venues throughout their first two seasons, which was accounted for in the data.