Why the Ottawa Fury Need to Look at Canadian Attendance History

The Ottawa Fury joins a modern tradition of strong support for professional soccer in Canada
by Henrik Lonne   |   Thursday, July 24, 2014

Made in Canada - coverage of the Canadian MLS, NASL & USL Clubs, CSL, PCSL, Canadian Championship & Canada National Teams

With 14,593 people at TD Place in Ottawa, the Fury did not just open their new stadium with a healthy crowd, they also broke the modern NASL's attendance record.

Whether this kind of crowd can be sustained is up for discussion, but it shows a curiosity and interest in professional soccer in the nation's capital.

Such attendance for professional soccer in Canada should not come as a surprise. In the top 10 of highest attendance games in the new NASL since 2011, 8 of 10 games took place in Canada, with 7 2011 Montreal Impact games ranking from third to ninth.

But also in MLS, Canadian fans show a commitment to their team. Other than the Seattle Sounders with an extremely impressive average attendance of 42,771, both Toronto FC and the Vancouver Whitecaps rank second third in 2014 with an average of 22,591 and 20,985, respectively. Even the Montreal Impact, who are playing a poor season are above the league average of 18,704 with 19,145. Considering that Montreal is known for large walk up crowds, the Impact's number could probably have been even higher had they actually been winning games.

What ruins this picture is FC Edmonton with an average attendance of 3,119. This is, however, over just 4 games in 5,000 capacity stadium. Furthermore the Eddies have not have a lot of success in the NASL and combined with a stadium ill-suited for soccer, this does not help FCE put butts in the seats.

While FC Edmonton has not been able to attract large crowds, the second tier Impact teams were successful and were thus able to draw impressive crowds to second division games.

The lesson the Fury should take from this is that winning initially helps attracting and retaining fans. So while building a sustainable team, that will also be good in the future, there should definitely be an eye for the present.

Henrik LONNE

Copenhagen Business School
Club Domestic:
AGF Aarhus
Club Foreign:
Toronto FC
Born and raised in Denmark, the US performance in the 2002 World Cup dragged Henrik into the world of North American soccer. Subsequent trips to Canada made him a Toronto FC fan from abroad. The passion he now has for MLS outshines most European leagues.