Houston Dynamo will be working to boost fan support, as the club tries to gain a stronger following in a competitive market.
Over the last few seasons, Houston’s once-solid attendance figures have started to slip. The club averaged over 20,600 fans per-game as recently as 2015, but thus far in 2019, it is averaging 15,427 spectators at each contest–good for 19th in the 24-team MLS. That follows a 2018 in which the Dynamo averaged 16,906 fans per-game, ranking 18th among 23 clubs in the league.
While the Dynamo have the advantage of playing in a strong market with a relatively modern facility–BBVA Stadium opened in 2012–Houston’s sports scene is also competitive, with the NBA’s Rockets, NFL’s Texans, MLB’s Astros, and collegiate sports also part of the mix. Going forward, the organization wants to improve its standing within the market. Building a more competitive team could be part of that goal, while John Walker, president of business operations for the Dynamo and Dash, believes there are avenues in place for community engagement that could help trigger a turnaround. More from the Houston Chronicle:
As MLS has grown — expansion fees have reached $200 million; the league is eyeing 30 clubs, with Charlotte and Sacramento also aiming for teams — the Dynamo have been on the outside looking in.
“All we have to do is just look around the league,” said Walker, during an interview at a coffee shop across the street from the Dynamo’s downtown stadium. “We look at Portland, look at Seattle, look at Kansas City with sold-out stadiums. We strive to be there, and we’re working to do that.”
Walker was direct and refreshingly up front discussing the state of the Dynamo. He didn’t blame anyone else — fans, the local media, Houston’s Big Three. He is aware that clear opportunities haven’t been maximized and the future is waiting.
“Between the multicultural nature of our city, the growth of MLS, the popularity of the sport in the United States, the number of youth that are playing here, all the ingredients are there for us,” said Walker, who was hired last November after working with the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and Memphis Grizzlies. “It’s incumbent upon the franchise to create and foster those relationships and create them at a grassroots level. Because it can’t just be transactional.”
As MLS plots its future, having a few of its existing teams boost their attendance numbers and overall community support will be key to the league’s growth. A stronger-performing Dynamo club would undoubtedly further that agenda, as Houston is the fourth-most populous city in the United States and offers demographics that seem ripe for MLS.
Image courtesy BBVA Stadium.