2011 was just as much of a rollercoaster in attendance as it was in the games on the field. There were some amazing atmospheres with sellouts for opening day against Chicago, LA Galaxy in May, and Columbus on July 4 while there were also some library atmospheres especially as the season wore towards the end.
We all know FCD attendance isn't where we want it to be, but this post is not intended to highlight anything good or bad, simply the facts. I will have thoughts on the attendance after the jump, but I think these numbers are overall very promising. There are obviously good and bad stats in here, but everything seems to be trending upward.
2011 Attendance Numbers
-FC Dallas finished with an average attendance of 12,861 an 18.9% raise from the 10,815 average of 2010
-The 18.9% raise was 3rd highest in the league behind Sporting Kansas City(New stadium/Ownership) and San Jose(Played a 50k game at Stanford Stadium, though SJ did sell out their last 5 or 6 games so they deserve lots of props).
-FC Dallas ranks 16th in MLS attendance in front of San Jose and Columbus.
-The 12,861 attendance number ranks 4th out of the 6 full seasons at Pizza Hut Park
2006: 15, 299 Source
2007: 15,145 Source
2008: 13,097 Source
2009: 9,883 Source
2010: 10,815 Source
2011: 12,861 Source
-Through the first 8 home games of 2011 FC Dallas averaged 13,308 while the last 9 home games averaged 12,463.
-2011 marks the second straight rise in attendance for FCD.
Things started off really great for Dallas on the attendance front. Through 6 games, FCD attendance was at 14,258, a huge spike from last season and ahead of five other MLS teams(Source). Attendance early was helped by the Galaxy game, but still FCD was getting very decent crowds and very energetic crowds too.
As will happen, the summer heat kind of killed a lot of the attendance. Dallas saw a huge number on July 4th but the rest of the season saw fairly small crowds. Something that I feel needs to be addressed is the lack of attendance for Concacaf Champions League. While I know it's about the lowest priority on the totem pole in terms of ticket sales, the crowd for the Toronto FC game was so small it makes you wonder just how many die hard fans FC Dallas has. I'm not sure what the final number was, but if there was more than 1,500 people in the stadium I would be very surprised. It was particularly confusing to me because there seemed to be more people for the two US Open Cup games. I'm not really sure what the explanation is for that
On a better note, I think overall 2011 should be looked at positively from an attendance standpoint. Obviously the nearly 20% jump is great and it seems like things are generally trending in the right direction at the gate despite what the MLS trolls might have you believe. The beer garden was a great new addition for 2011 and the place where I see a lot of the supporters section old-timers(sorry!) who want to yell, but not in the setting that the supporters section provides. For the MLS games, there seemed to be more corporate sponsorship than I've seen in years past especially with the big Winstar World Casino displays on the north concourse for a few of the games.
Looking forward to 2012, it's essential that Dallas keeps the momentum going. I really hope the powers that be allow the marketing dollars needed to present this team the way a major league team should be presented. To me, the biggest thing is not just getting those 15,000 crowds again as I'd rather have the good 10-12,000k crowds that are into the game that we've seen in many games this year rather than the 15,000 made up of a romper room. What will truly encourage me is seeing the die hard fan base grow...it's those same 5,000 soccer-educated people that will show up for Wednesday night, Tuesday Open Cup and so on.
For right now, however, let's just focus on Wednesday night vs New York. Survive and advance.