The Major League Soccer regular season, that has proved to be the most successful in leagues history, has ended. The league can no longer be ignored. What will shock some people, but seem obvious to others, is that the MLS per-game attendance from this season was great enough to surpass those of the NBA and the NHL (using their 2010-11 season’s figures). Even more surprising to some, is that there is another league between the MLB and the MLS (with the NFL ahead of the MLB). Here are the full standings for North American pro sports leagues (minors and independent baseball not included), rounded down (NOT up) to the thousand.
National Football League: 66,000
Major League Baseball: 32,000
Canadian Football League: 29,000
Major League Soccer: 17,000
National Basketball Association: 17,000
National Hockey League: 17,000
United Football League: 15,000
National Lacrosse League: 9,000
Arena Football League: 8,000
Women’s National Basketball Association: 7,000
Major League Lacrosse: 6,000
Major Indoor Soccer League: 4,000
Women’s Professional Soccer: 3,000
The NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL, are all sure bets to continue at a stable attendance (when the NBA does come back). The CFL will be stable as well, but relatively unknown to people living in the United States. The MLS and NLL are good bets to have increased attendance. The UFL may fold, while the AFL, WNBA, MLL, MISL, and WPS are likely to remain obscure over the next decade.
As for the MLS, one can only wonder if these attendance figures mean increasing popularity, or if people who normally watch on TV are simply coming to more games. However, one thing is certain, the MLS is gaining credibility and bettering its argument to be considered a Major League every year, and its new television contract is definitely going to help.