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Canadian Premier League Announces Huge Increase In Fan Attendance

By on October 25, 2023 1 2614 Views

The Canadian Premier League has reported a staggering 19% increase in fan attendance for the 2023 Canadian Premier League season compared to last year.

A press release from the league’s head office posted a cumulative fan attendance of 429,915 from the regular season season, with all eight teams of the league seeing an overall rise up from 360,832 last year.

The new figure is an all-time high and represents a year-over-year increase of just north of 19%, which is quite a significant jump upwards for a league completing its fifth year – and having endured a pandemic in its second.

Forge FC Ashtone Morgan
Photo Credit: Jojo Yanjiao Qian

Reigning champions Forge FC, who will host the CPL Final this year, improved on already-strong numbers and are enjoying a staggering 44% year-over-year attendance increase, while the other finalist Cavalry FC saw a 17% increase of their own.

With both those clubs qualifying for the Concacaf Champions Cup, they’ll get even more butts in seats outside of the regular season next year. Over 10,000 tickets have been sold for Hamilton’s upcoming league final, though Ottawa boasted just about 15,000 in 2022.

It should also come as no surprise that the Halifax Wanderers led the per-club attendance with an average of nearly 6,000 fans per match. The East Coast side routinely sell out for home games, with the club hoping their proposal for a larger permanent stadium will be approved and ready for 2025.

Vancouver FC Willoughby Community Stadium
Vancouver FC was the new team on the block this year. (Photo Credit: John May)

While Atletico Ottawa had a rough season overall, they still set this year’s single-game attendance record with 7,044.

What’s even more impressive is that the league is showing this kind of in-person fan growth without getting much broadcast love from traditional domestic cable channels, with the CRTC getting involved following a dispute between Rogers and OneSoccer owner Timeless Incorporated.

Canadian fans hoping to tune into the action must do through so fuboTV, OneSoccer, or Telus Optik TV – but there has been an outcry for Canada’s top flight league to join the likes of Rogers and Bell, or have CBC Sports once again cover the league.

Even without, six of the seven founding teams saw increasing fan attendance – and while the league didn’t specific the odd one out, it’s clear that Toronto’s York United struggled as a big attendance outlier amid the search for new club ownership.

Despite those Nine Stripes’ struggles – and perhaps some fan patience at risk of waning in Winnipeg – the league also announced a record uptick in key revenue categories for 2023, though it won’t be releasing those metrics until after this weekend’s final.

Canadian Premier League Mark Noonan
Photo Credit: David Chant / Canadian Premier League

The league’s commissioner, Mark Noonan, announced his gratitude to the fans who made the record numbers possible, and will be fielding questions during a State of the League announcement in the build-up to this weekend’s final.

“Together with our clubs and amazing players, the CPL is proudly and unapologetically growing our own version of the beautiful game in these markets from coast to coast, developing an organic soccer culture that is by Canadians and for Canadians,” said Noonan.

The 2023 CPL Final will come in the shape of a classic rivalry tilt between Forge and Cavalry on Saturday, October 28 at 6:00PM EST. Ahead of that, the league will host its 2023 CPL Awards on Thursday, at which point the new North Star Cup will be unveiled – 2023 said farewell to the microwave plate, and hello to new fans aplenty.

1 Comment
  • Denton 6 months ago

    Yeah, the “new revenue categories” comment was intriguing.

    At the end of the day, I don’t need to know what Mark Noonan’s salary is, or how much CIBC pays to be a sleeve sponsor, or quarterly sales numbers on jerseys. But I do want to know whether the League can afford to run York United for another year, and whether or not the league is on track to be healthy. If the “new revenue numbers” let us measure that, and if the league releases that year-to-year, I’ll be happy.

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