Categorized | Also Noted, Commentary

Beckham effect II: Sizing up the Red Bulls' 2007 attendance figures

Posted on 18 October 2007 by ASN Staff

The previous post on the improving Major League Soccer attendance figures led me (via the comments page–thanks mountainmadeofsteam) to look at how the Red Bulls’ attendance numbers match up to those of prior seasons. But before I go there, a few clarifications are in order: First of all, I don’t know of any proof for this, but AEG is widely suspected of having been a little creative with attendance figures during the years they owned the team (that would be 2002-05). While we don’t know for sure that AEG did this, we can say with 100% certainty that they engaged in some sleight-of-hand by counting international doubleheaders as their own attendance. This even though there was–quite literally-only a small fraction of fans left in the stands for the Metro portion of the doubleheader. To illustrate, take May 31, 2005: according to official MLS records, the Metros-Chicago Fire game that day had paid attendance of 50,807. Except, that MLS game came the same day as a certain England versus Colombia friendly. I was there that day and can tell you with absolute certainty there weren’t 50,000 fans in the stands watching the MLS game. An overwhelming majority of them left after the final whistle of England-Colombia.
Still, for our purposes I have taken the historic attendance figures at face value. Why? It’s just too difficult and time-consuming, at this point at least, to go through every single year and every single game to remove the doubleheader games from the equation. But enough blather. Here are the franchise’s historical average attendance figures:

1996 23,898
1997 16,893
1998 16,520
1999 14,706
2000 17,621
2001 20,806
2002 18,155
2003 15,822
2004 17,195
2005 15,077
2006 14,570
2007 16,530

You can see for yourself how this year measures up: The highest attendance since 2004, reversing a two year decline. Without the Beckham game the average is 12,979, which, somewhat shockingly, is the franchise’s worst ever. But wait! There’s more: This year included two home games that really shouldn’t have happened. The first one (on Mother’s Day) was just an unfortunate hand that was dealt by the MLS schedule maker. Only 7,802 showed up for that one. The second event was the infamous monsoon game of April 15, which just happened to be the team’s home opener. A whopping 8,865 were brave enough to turn out for that one. If we’re going to exclude the Beckham game from the equation, we should at least run the numbers without the lowest-attended game this season, on Mother’s Day, as well. (I think that’s called the mean? Or maybe it’s the median. Can’t remember). That number: 13,378. Which would still be the worst-ever in franchise history. Okay, so let’s exclude the Monsoon game as well. Without that game, the Mother’s Day game and the Beckham game, the average attendance is (drumroll please): 13,754. Still an all-time low.

Bottom line: Don’t diss Beckham’s impact, even for this franchise.

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