10 Games Winless and NYCFC Still Draw Over 26,000 FansNew York City continues to prove it is “Blue” with attendance superiority in New York Soccer, even with dismal record
by Nick Chavez | Friday, June 05, 2015
Months before New York City FC ever even had a chance to sign a single player, I was repeatedly lectured by scores of naysayers about how NYCFC was likely to be a failed franchise due mostly to the “facts” that New York City isn’t really a soccer town, and certainly wouldn’t care about MLS. Evidence? “Well, nobody cared about the Red Bulls for 20 years!”
Many also assumed that putting this team in the temporary home of Yankee Stadium was another perilous mistake, further crushing the hopes that this side could one day draw crowds and capture the imagination of New York City soccer fans.
If that wasn’t bad enough, people assured me that if NYCFC didn’t win, especially with everything else mentioned “going against them”, you could put the nail in the coffin of the club’s attendance numbers in Yankee Stadium and relevance to soccer fans in the City.
Interesting then that on the home game after a 10-game winless streak for the struggling expansion team, Yankee Stadium still drew 26,211 New York City FC fans to its match against the Houston Dynamo, which ended up in a draw, extending the miserable winless streak to 11 matches.
What’s going on here?
The Red Bulls, who although having a few disappointing results recently are still safely in the playoff picture and one of the best teams in the league, only manage an average home attendance of 19,241, which isn’t bad by any means. It is a number, though, that is certainly boosted by NYCFC’s visit to Red Bull Arena drawing a season high 25,217 during the first-ever Hudson Derby.
In comparison, NYCFC’s average home attendance is 26,889 so far, averaging nearly 8,000 more fans per home game. Of course, this figure is also significantly bolstered by a season-high home opener vs. New England Revolution that drew 43,507 fans. But after 10 games winless, NYCFC still draw over 26 thousand at home? Doesn’t seem like “New York is Red” thus far, based on those numbers.
Another team’s fans that like to claim New York for their own is the 2nd Division side New York Cosmos of the NASL, whose attendance numbers sputter around 3-5,000 fans per home match at Hofstra University. Sure, they’ll draw the occasional 12,000 when they pay legends Pele and Beckenbauer to show up and wave, but these are certainly outliers, and nowhere near the big boys of Major League Soccer in any case. But, “New York is Green”, ya say?
No, instead New York seems to be getting more blue by the minute. Of course, there will be those shouting, “We’re only 11 games in, talk to me at the end of the season!” And, while that's true, I’m left scratching my head wondering how they expect this trend to reverse moving forward, realistically. NYCFC has managed these outstanding attendance numbers on a 10-game winless streak, often playing soccer that has been very poor and impotent offensively.
They’ve managed these turnouts while NYCFC supporters have seen Yankee Stadium security and NYPD unfairly abuse their power in dealing them with heavy handed ejections and arrests. They’ve kept it going in the midst of competing with NBA and NHL playoffs. And they’ve done it with only 1 DP, who has struggled with injuries and has been lacking in the goals department.
New York City FC supporters celebrating en masse following a draw with the Chicago Fire
But the supporters and the club are now working on solutions to prevent future unfair treatment from Securitas and NYPD, and the NBA and NHL playoffs are soon nearing their respective conclusions.
English Premier League legend Frank Lampard will also finally be joining NYCFC in July, as is a likely high-profile 3rd Designated Player, with most reports saying Italian legend Andrea Pirlo is very close to signing for New York City. A source told me that NYCFC’s initial talks with Pirlo were very positive, and the club expects a deal to be reached very soon.
These certainly don’t seem like the ingredients for future reduced attendance in Yankee Stadium but, of course, anything is possible.
But, what do you think is going to happen when these and other stars inevitably join New York City FC, and results eventually start to go NYCFC’s way? And how do you think NYCFC might eventually be received in its own soccer specific stadium in the City, which the club is working tirelessly to secure?
These are just questions to ponder at your leisure, sports fans. Simply concepts to wrestle with to fight off mid-day boredom. Nothing more.
I will say, though, that I find it quite remarkable that in a city that was only supposed to love a winner and not care about domestic soccer, NYCFC remains in the warm embrace of the City it is named after, win or lose. Stars or no stars.
It's almost as if that whole “actually playing in the City” thing and, you know, not having an energy drink logo on your club crest makes a difference. Bizarre.
Or maybe soccer fans in New York City proper are just different, as is the supporter culture of the World’s Game itself?
Or is it all of the above? Eh, what do I know.