Here’s The Attendance For Every Pro Canadian Club In 2019
2019 has been a big year for the professional football scene in Canada: the inaugural season of the Canadian Premier League introduced an unprecedented seven new teams into the mix, Ottawa Fury reached the USL playoffs for the first time ever, Montreal snapped TFC’s Voyageurs Cup winning streak (with the latter making MLS playoffs) and Vancouver is, well, bracing itself for another rebuild.
Now that the regular season for every professional Canadian club has subsided, we wanted to take a look and see how all eleven professional domestic clubs fared in terms of attendance this year. Here’s the results at face value:
At a glance, it’s easy to see that Major League Soccer is still the biggest draw, with former treble winners Toronto FC pulling in the biggest crowds. Despite a series of scandals and less-than-stellar performances on the pitch, the Whitecaps have still managed to draw nearly 20,000 fans each week, with Montreal finishing last in terms of attendance out of the Canadian MLS sides.
The Canadian Premier League has seen mixed success in terms of attendance: clubs playing out of easily accessible CFL stadiums like Forge and Valour are pulling in good numbers (though Forge received a boost in this figure given that tickets to the inaugural game were free), while Halifax Wanderers has seen its downtown stadium consistently sell out across the whole season – though this hasn’t been the case for every team in the burgeoning league.
Pacific FC will be hoping its newly-expanded stadium can bring in more ticket sales next year, while FC Edmonton and York9 FC have seen paltry crowds compared to the CPL table-toppers. In fact, the Eddies first year of CPL action has seen smaller crowds than its last year in the NASL, where it pulled in an average 3,408 in 2017. For its part, York9 FC management is making moves to address its attendance struggles ahead of 2020, with the club laying out some big plans which include drastic ticket price drops across the board.
Of course, a more balanced schedule with less midweek games would help attendance in the CPL, too. The Canadian Premier League comissioner has already indicated that the 2020 CPL schedule will be adjusted.
Earlier this year, CONCACAF made waves when it came close to desanctioning the Ottawa Fury for not joining the Canadian Premier League, a move which the capital city club had reservations about making due to unanswered questions about the league’s sustainability.
When we last checked in on how Ottawa Fury’s attendance in the USL compares to the Canadian Premier League, the club would have been fourth in terms of attendance if it was in the CPL. This ranking hasn’t changed since then, though the club does boast a higher floor in terms of its least-attended match. Perhaps more worrying for the Fury, however, is that the club’s average attendance has now taken a slight dip for three seasons in a row.
It’ll be tremendously interesting to see the how the seven new Canadian Premier League clubs fare in 2020 now that a baseline comparison has been established. The league has been quiet on if there’ll be any expansion clubs next year, with ownership groups in Saskatoon and Montreal opting to take their time and launch on their own schedule.
All-told, 2019 has been a large positive for Canada in terms of professional football: the likes of Nova Scotia, Alberta, and Manitoba now have professional clubs within their borders, and these fledgling clubs have allowed domestic Canadian players to earning meaningful minutes throughout the year. The result of this gametime can already be seen in recent national team call-ups.
While Toronto FC flopped in its CONCACAF Champions League ambitions earlier this year, Hamilton-based club Forge FC exceed expectations in the CONCACAF League – though whether the club will get another chance to progress further in 2020 will depend on if it can best Cavalry FC in the Canadian Premier League finals. Montreal Impact will represent Canada in the CONCACAF Champions League next year by way of qualifying through the Voyageurs Cup.
Header Image Credit: Canada Soccer