Sounders Insider

Sounders attendance: GM Hanauer upbeat even as record finally fails to fall

MLSattendance14For the first time in their six-season history, the Sounders did not establish a new Major League Soccer attendance record this year.

Over each of their first five seasons Seattle set MLS home attendance records, topping out in 2013 with 748,652 total attendance and an average of 44,038 per home game.

The 2014 figures came up just short: 743,485 total and 43,734 average. Record or no, those are astounding numbers by MLS standards -- the No. 2 home draw in the league drew just over half as many: 22,086 per game.

Looking outside the league, the Sounders' pre-game average was also higher than every team in baseball's American League, and in fact every team in Major League Baseball except the Los Angeles Dodgers, who averaged 46,695 per game (and yes, yes, yes, over 81 home games). Seattle also is the only market where the local MLS team had a higher per-game average than the local MLB team, as the Mariners averaged 25,485 (and yes, yes, yes, as above).

In any case, Sounders general manager Adrian Hanauer did not seem overly concerned about his club not quite reaching the mark it needed to set another record in the home finale Saturday.

"Part of me I guess is amused by the question, given we’re sort of questing another crowd of 58,000 that leads to us missing another attendance record by how many? – 300 per game, 400?" he said Saturday. "So I guess I’d point to the positives. We have the largest season-ticket holder base that we’ve had in 35,000 this year. I think we’re at 93-94 percent renewal rate – something in that range – which has to be tops in the league.

"I think that we also had a couple of the open all-stadium games, the Houston game I think at the time Houston was last in the East. I think one or two might have been and afternoon game – at least today was an afternoon game – which always hurts us a little bit in attendance. But we’re very happy with our average.

"But it’s an opportunity to continue to plug away and try to grow the base, and look at it as a challenge to the business to sell more – whether we had broken the record or not."