MLS sets average attendance record in 2016 as Seattle Sounders lead all clubs
MLS fans attended league matches in record numbers this season.
With the regular season now complete, data provided by MLS revealed an average attendance of 21,692 fans per game in 2016, just beating out the mark of 21,558 set in 2015.
It marked the third consecutive season that the attendance record had been broken, and the second season in a row that the average attendance exceeded 21,000 fans per game. MLS has seen its attendance increase 40 percent from 2006, when its average attendance was 15,504.
MLS is now the sixth-best attended soccer league in the world, behind the German Bundesliga, English Premier League, Spain's La Liga, Mexico's Liga MX, and the Chinese Super League.
Eleven MLS teams increased their attendance, but each of the top three teams saw their numbers decline. The Seattle Sounders still led the way, averaging 42,636 fans per game, but that represented a 3.6 percent drop from 2015.
Seattle is followed by Orlando City (31,324) and New York City FC (27,196). All told, 10 teams averaged more than 20,000 fans per game, and 162 sellouts were recorded, one more than in 2015.
The Montreal Impact experienced the largest percentage increase from 2015, moving up 16.4 percent to 20,669 thanks to an additional game held at Montreal's Olympic Stadium.
Toronto FC's expansion of BMO Field saw it increase attendance by 13.4 percent to 26,583, which was good for the fourth highest average in MLS.
At 14,094, FC Dallas recorded the lowest average attendance in the league despite winning the Supporters' Shield for the league's best record, as well as the U.S. Open Cup. The club also experienced the biggest percentage decline at 12 percent.
The Chicago Fire (15,602) and the Colorado Rapids (16,278) had the next lowest figures in MLS.
MLS attendance figures in 2016, with percentage change from last year:
Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyCarlisle.