Another attendance success story emerged in the NWSL over the weekend, as Sky Blue FC set a club record by welcoming 9,415 fans to Red Bull Arena.
When it came to attendance, expectations were high coming into Sunday’s match between Sky Blue FC and Reign FC. With plenty of World Cup star power between the two rosters, Sky Blue FC accommodated increased ticket demand by shifting the match from Rutgers’ Yurcak Field to the larger Red Bull Arena–the home of MLS’s New York Red Bulls.
Ultimately, the move allowed Sky Blue FC to set a new club attendance record, with a reported crowd of 9,415 fans on hand as the teams played to a 1-1 draw. More from the New York Post:
Inside a stadium still littered with Red Bulls decor, fans of women’s soccer made a statement that their sport is not to be scoffed at. A record-breaking Sky Blue crowd of 9,415 people — youth soccer players and adults alike — filled the stands and gave a glimpse of the sport’s potential if and when it’s given serious investment.
While Sky Blue’s “Cloud Nine” supporter section bounced and sang for 90 minutes, the match was a treat for the players, too. Sky Blue normally plays at Rutgers’ 5,000-person Yurcak Field, while the Reign play at a converted minor league baseball stadium in Tacoma, Wash….
“Playing at Red Bull Arena allows us to feel like a professional athlete,” said Reign midfielder Allie Long, who was also part of the World Cup-winning squad this summer. “When you’re at Yurcak, when you’re at Rutgers, you feel like you’re in college again.
“Everything about this is a professional environment.”
Since the conclusion of this summer’s World Cup last month, there have been other attendance success stories around the NWSL, with the Chicago Red Stars among the other clubs that have broken their own attendance records. This trend is a strong indicator of apparent post-World Cup success for the NWSL, but some of the stars Sunday’s match–including Long and Sky Blue FC’s Carli Lloyd–emphasized that increased promotion must be part of the agenda if this success is to be sustainable. From the New York Post:
Long put the microscope on Sunday’s match.
“Was there a commercial that said we’re playing on [ESPNNews]?” Long asked reporters. “Was there an ad in a newspaper, radio station?”
“The word has to get out,” Lloyd said. “There’s so many people in this country that have no idea there’s a women’s professional league, and that’s a problem.”
The period since the World Cup’s conclusion has also been marked by the fall of the NWSL’s single-game attendance record. Earlier this month, Portland Thorns FC drew a reported crowd of 25,218 as it hosted North Carolina Courage–eclipsing a mark of 23,403 fans that was set by the Orlando Pride in 2016.
Image courtesy Sky Blue FC.
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