Thanks for Visiting!

Register for free to get the full story.

Sign Up
Already have a account? Log In

Major League Soccer: Its Die-Hard and Casual Fans

Ezra Carmel
October 11, 2023
Major League Soccer: Its Die-Hard and Casual Fans

Soccer – or football as it’s otherwise known – is the most popular sport in many regions of the world, although here in the U.S., it has historically taken a backseat to American football, baseball, and basketball. But recently, the sport has been growing in popularity – becoming a pastime for the average consumer and fully invested supporters alike.

Major League Soccer (MLS) – the top professional soccer league in North America – first took the pitch in 1996, with 10 original franchises including the Colorado Rapids, Kansas City Wiz (now Sporting Kansas City), San Jose Clash (now San Jose Earthquakes), D.C. United, New York/New Jersey MetroStars (now New York Red Bulls), and Los Angeles Galaxy. We dove into the location intelligence metrics for the stadiums where these legacy franchises play in order to better understand visitor behavior and MLS’ growing fanbase.

Hometown Crowds

Along with other live events, MLS continues to bounce back from a period of limited in-person attendance during the pandemic. As MLS fans return to the stands, stadiums are driving more visits from local communities, which suggests that a growing number of individuals are interested in their hometown club.

Location intelligence revealed that during the 2023 season so far, all of the stadiums analyzed had a greater share of visitors that lived within 30 miles of the venue than they did in 2019. So, while teams with big-name stars can attract visitors from a larger area, the increased share of local fans attending these stadiums indicates that soccer is a growing source of hometown pride and entertainment. 

Football For All

Along with growing local notoriety, Trade Area Analysis suggests that these MLS teams are attracting a wider visitor base and that audiences at MLS games are becoming more diverse. 

Since the 2019 MLS regular season, the median household income (HHI) of residents in the stadiums’ captured markets has drawn closer to the nationwide benchmark. This democratization – which has also been observed in retail brands like Nike – indicates the growth of a diverse fanbase that more closely reflects the general population. This could have implications for advertisers who may want to gear their messaging toward an increasingly mainstream audience.

Multiple Matches

Congruent with MLS fans becoming more local and more diverse, some stadiums are attracting a larger share of spectators who attend multiple games – as they gain more die-hard fans – while others are observing repeat visits falter, perhaps due to an increase in casual fans who attend a single match.

Analysis of the percentage of visitors who visited each stadium at least twice during the 2019, 2022, and 2023 regular seasons through mid-September revealed that, though still just below pre-pandemic levels, the visitor frequency of PayPal Park in San Jose, CA – home of the San Jose Earthquakes – and Audi Field in Washington, D.C. – home to D.C. United – has increased since 2022. And Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ – where the New York Red Bulls play – and Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, CA – home to the LA Galaxy – both experienced greater visitor frequency in the last two years than in 2019. This suggests that more die-hard fans are filling these stadiums. 

While repeat visits are indicative of attendance by the teams’ committed supporters, a drop in visitor frequency between the 2022 and 2023 seasons could also suggest that more casual fans are getting acquainted with the teams. For example, with the highest percentage of repeat visitors pre-pandemic (62.6%), DICK’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, CO – where the Colorado Rapids play – likely hosts many die-hard fans who regularly attend matches. Visitor frequency remained close to that standard in 2022 and 2023, but fell slightly during both years, which suggests that new fans are making their way into the stands. 

For each of these stadiums, the share of repeat and casual visitors could continue to fluctuate. As interest in soccer grows, the sport may draw more attendees looking for a one-time activity to attend a single game, while encouraging casual fans to become die-hards who attend multiple matches. Wherever stadiums find themselves in this balance, there appears to be plenty of demand to fill the stands. 

The Breakaway

MLS stadiums are being more heavily attended by locals and driving traffic from more diverse audiences. This points to soccer’s rise to prominence as a mainstream recreational pastime alongside growing and committed fanbases. As the popularity of the sport continues to rise, MLS is expanding with new teams that will bring more fans – the casuals and the die-hards – into the fold. 

‍For updates and more data-driven foot traffic insights, visit

Get 3 brand & industry
breakdowns every week

Subscribe to the newsletter

Great! Prepare your inbox for data-driven insights...
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Get a Demo

Please enter your first name
Please enter your last name
Please provide a valid email
Please enter your email
Please enter company name

Thanks for reaching out!

One of our experts will be in touch soon

Try Free
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Text Link
Text Link
Text Link
Black Friday 2023 Retail Recap
Starbucks’ 2023 Holiday Menu & Red Cup Day Performance
Turkey Wednesday 2023
Who Attended the 2023 Pickleball Championship? 
Three Surprising Holiday Shopping Trends
What’s in Store for Ulta Beauty This Holiday Season?
Best Buy and Department Stores: A Holiday Deep Dive
Discount & Dollar Stores: Strength Toward The End of the Year
The State of Off-Price Retail: Discounts Seal The Deal
Placer Mall Index Recap: October 2023 Office Index: October 2023 Recap
Retail Corridors Ahead of the 2023 Holiday Season
California, Here Gap Comes
Checking in With Home Improvement
Getting Into the Glasses Game: Warby Parker Takes Over
Fitness Positioned for a Strong 2023 Finish
White Paper Recap: October 2023
Coffee Giants Brewing Up Business
Popeyes and Burger King Lead the Way
Diving into Yum!
Looking Ahead to Black Friday 2023
Blockbusters Drive Movie Theater Comeback
Crocs and Boot Barn: Shoe-Ins for Success
McDonald’s and Chipotle's Winning Recipe
The State Of Steak: Checking in With Texas Roadhouse
Pleasant Pastimes: Pickleball Potential Proves Potent
Who’s Driving Downtown Manhattan’s Weekend Revival?
Diving into Downtown Manhattan Foot Traffic Trends
Rite Aid: Rightsizing Right
Major League Soccer: Its Die-Hard and Casual Fans
The Anchor Recap: September 2023 Office Index: September 2023 Recap
Placer Mall Index Recap: September 2023
September White Paper Recap
The Consumer Habits of College Students
JCPenney: Rightsizing and Revitalizing
Pent-Up Demand Ahead of October Sales Events
4 Strategies Retailers are Using to Drive Traffic to Their Venues
5 Key Regional Grocery Players Impressing in 2023
Upscale Kitchenware Trending Up
Costco Finds More Room for Growth
Four C-Store Chains Making an A-Grade
National Parks + Outdoor Summer Activities
Diving Into Darden: Summer 2023 Update
The Summer Event Effect
Messi: Massive in Miami
Looking Back on Back to School 2023
The Anchor Recap: August 2023 Office Index: August 2023 Recap Mall Index: August 2023 Recap White Paper Recap: August 2023
Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte Strikes Again
Big Scoop: We All Scream For Ice Cream
Sports Away: Lululemon & Nike’s Momentum Continues
Summer Visits Heat Up For Recreation and Outdoor Gear Chains
No CSS overwrite - July 2023 Office Index Recap
Staging - August 2023 Mall Indec
Mid-Atlantic Grocery Deep Dive
Experiential Chains Heating Up This Summer
Petco Goes Big by Going Small
Ulta Beauty: Leading the Discretionary Pack
Discount and Dollar Chains Continue to Thrive
Summer of Sports: DICK’s Sporting Goods and Hibbett Sports
Off-Price: Succeeding Into Summer
The Anchor Recap: July 2023
Superstores Maintaining Pandemic Gains Amidst Economic Headwinds
2023: Home Improvement at the Halfway Point
July 2023 Office Index Recap Mall Index: July 2023 Recap
The Taylor Swift Visit Lift
Southwestern Grocery Dive
July 2023 White Paper Recap: Halfway Point Review & Quarterly Index
Yum! Brands: Driving Dining Visits
Slurpees and Summer Movies Stimulate Consumer Foot Traffic
Cool Beans: Summer Coffee Update
Checking In on Back to School 2023
Crocs and New Balance Tip The Scales
Burger Bliss: Shake Shack and In-N-Out Stacking Visits
Chipotle & McDonald's Continue to Reign Supreme
Vibenomics and Partner to Enhance Retail Media In-Store Measurement
California Grocers Here We Come!
Marriott’s Different Audiences
Bonchon and Kura Sushi Thrive in the Fast-Casual Scene
A Shoe In: Footwear Climbs to the Top
Cheers! Raising a Glass to Beverage Retail Office Index: June 2023 Recap Mall Index June 2023 Recap – A Turn of the Tide and a Dive into Open-Air Lifestyle Centers
Local Kitchens: Redefining the Restaurant
Unlocking Urban Insights: The Value in Manhattan’s Employees
Ohio State Parks On The Rise
How is Inflation Impacting the High-Income Shoppers?
Five Fast-Growing Dining Chains
What To Expect From Prime Day and July Sales Events in 2023
The State Of Fashion: How Are Apparel Retailers Faring in 2023?
2023’s Latest Dining Success Story: GEN Korean BBQ House
The NBA Finals: A Location Intelligence Perspective
Moving the Market: The Impact of Domestic Migration on Housing Costs
Post-Pandemic Museum Update
The Darden-est Things
The Enduring Demand for Urban and Suburban Retail