Sounders Insider

FC Dallas on pace for attendance record despite crowded sports marketplace

In 2011, FC Dallas ranked as low as 17th in MLS attendance. The next season, the Hoops drew a franchise-record 218,636 fans. Last season, that record was topped. This season, Dallas is averaging 16,786 and on pace for another record.

I didn't get an estimate as to attendance for their Wednesday match with Sounders FC. It seems like it could be lower than usual because of the midweeks game. I also wondered if attendance naturally drops with the start of the NFL season and asked FC Dallas president Dan Hunt how much the Cowboys season impacts the club:

"I would say it is impactful, as is all football," he said. "I think that’s still something that a lot of communities are facing. The Seattle Seahawks are a big deal, coming off a world championship, and I’m sure that impacts in some matter what goes on with the Sounders. (The Hunt family) was lucky enough to have the Chiefs, and when they go I feel like that affects Sporting in some capacity. "Yes, there is (some impact on FC Dallas), but it’s the general football movement because it’s high school football, it’s college football, and obviously pro football. And football here is a big deal. So it is impactful, but I would tell you that you’re not seeing an attendance slump because of it. But we also have to be thoughtful in our programming, too, as we schedule games, and that obviously plays into it too. In Seattle you have the shared stadium, so they’re being mindful of each other’s schedules so they can’t overlap obviously. And that goes without saying as the conflicts become a little more limited. Here, we may have a game and the Dallas Cowboys may play a game, and that’s just how it goes.

"This is frankly a very crowded sports market. We have so many professional sports teams, we have so many minor-league teams, we have so many college teams in close proximity because you have SMU, you have TCU, you have UT in Austin, and it kind of goes on and on. Then you have other sports: race tracks, horse tracks, car track. It’s just one thing after another, and we’re competing for people’s entertainment dollars. But the positive I’ve got to tell you is our attendance, we’ll finish at another all-time high, which is a credit to our staff out here, it’s a credit to the community growing, it’s a credit to our U.S. national team program and having the success they had in the World Cup because of the awareness that they’ve created, and we’ve seen that in people who weren’t coming to games will now come try a game because they were cheering for the U.S. team and they know they may see some of the stars from the World Cup, but they also want to give their local soccer team try."

Evan at that, FC Dallas attendance remains about 2,000 per game below the league average of 18,880, and far below Sounders’ league-leading average of 42,238. But they like the direction the franchise is headed since its rebranding and move from the Cotton Bowl about a decade ago.