The 2017 USL season began yesterday with three teams setting attendance records, as the expanded circuit attracted strong box-office tallies on opening weekend.
In Virginia, a record crowd of 8,021 at City Stadium saw the Richmond Kickers notch a 1-0 victory against the Harrisburg City Islanders. The attendance shattered the previous record of 6,123, set during the 2016 regular-season finale against the Charleston Battery. The Kickers were active in the offseason by unveiling stadium plans.
In Florida, the Tampa Bay Rowdies celebrated a USL debut with a sellout crowd of 7,710 at Al Lang Stadium, punctuated by a 1-0 win over Orlando City B. That’s a record crowd for the Rowdies, who switched to USL from NASL this past season. An offseason that saw owner Bill Edwards apply for MLS membership and lobby for an Al Lang Stadium renovation certainly kept the team in the public eye — which undoubtedly translated to the box-office success.
In Arizona, the rebranded Phoenix Rising FC attracted 6,890 fans to the pop-up Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex to see the team drop a 1-0 decision to Toronto FC II. Despite the result, it was a strong launch for the team, who played last season as Arizona United SC at Peoria Sports Complex on the other side of the Valley. Like Tampa Bay, a play for an MLS franchise certainly kept the team in the headlines, and some aggressive PR showcasing the new stadium and the team’s new branding certainly did not hurt.
We’ll have a complete roundup of NASL attendance Monday morning.
Image from Richmond Kickers home opener courtesy of the team.