The Women’s World Cup is nearly here. For the teams that qualified, it is the culmination of a four year cycle. And since it’s the end of the cycle, it’s time to look back and see what the USWNT attendance was from 2019 to 2023.
Unfortunately, the USWNT attendance dropped 6% during the 2015-2019 period. From 2015 to 2019, the average attendance was 18,145 over the course of 69 games. For the current cycle (2019-2023), the average dropped down to 16,975 over 46 games.
Here’s how the crowds break down:
|8/3/19||USA vs. Republic of Ireland||Rose Bowl||37,040|
|8/29/19||USA vs. Portugal||Lincoln Financial Field||49,504|
|9/3/19||USA vs. Portugal||Allianz Field||19,600|
|10/3/19||USA vs. South Korea||Bank of America Stadium||30,071|
|10/6/19||USA vs. South Korea||Soldier Field||33,027|
|11/7/19||USA vs. Sweden||Historic Crew Stadium||20,903|
|11/10/19||USA vs. Costa Rica||TIAA Bank Field||12,914|
The friendlies immediately following the Women’s World Cup in France were immensely successful. This Victory Tour was even more successful than the one after the 2015 Women’s World Cup. Average attendance for these seven friendly games was 29,008. The 49,504 against Portugal was also the largest home crowd for a USWNT game since the 1999 Women’s World Cup Final.
|1/28/20||USA vs. Haiti||Shell Energy Stadium||4,363|
|1/31/20||USA vs. Panama||Shell Energy Stadium||14,121|
|2/3/20||USA vs. Costa Rica||Shell Energy Stadium||7,082|
|2/7/20||USA vs. Mexico||Dignity Health Sports Park||11,292|
|2/9/20||USA vs. Canada||Dignity Health Sports Park||17,489|
Attendance at the Olympic Qualifying Tournament was much lower than it was for the friendlies at the end of 2019. Perhaps the biggest reason for this is CONCACAF’s decision to limit the number of venues. Crowds are always smaller, on average, when fans in a city can choose between three games in a week rather than once a year. Average attendance for the five Olympic qualifiers was 10,869.
2020 She Believes Cup
|3/5/20||USA vs. England||Exploria Stadium||16,531|
|3/8/20||USA vs. Spain||Red Bull Arena||26,500|
|3/11/20||USA vs. Japan||Toyota Stadium||19,096|
While some can knock the nature of the She Believes Cup as a series of glorified friendlies, what can’t be knocked is the crowds that these games draw. Despite it being mostly the same cast of characters in the same half dozen stadiums (a common trend with US Soccer) the She Believes Cup games usually sell out or come close to it. 2020’s edition of the tournament drew an average of 20,709 right before COVID shut down the world.
|1/18/21||USA vs. Colombia||Exploria Stadium||2,042|
|1/22/21||USA vs. Colombia||Exploria Stadium||3,202|
|6/10/21||USA vs. Portugal||Shell Energy Stadium||9,951|
|6/13/21||USA vs. Jamaica||Shell Energy Stadium||8,737|
|6/16/21||USA vs. Nigeria||Q2 Stadium||20,500|
|7/1/21||USA vs. Mexico||Pratt & Whitney Stadium||21,637|
|7/5/21||USA vs. Mexico||Pratt & Whitney Stadium||27,758|
|9/16/21||USA vs. Paraguay||FirstEnergy Stadium||14,117|
|9/21/21||USA vs. Paraguay||TQL Stadium||22,515|
|10/21/21||USA vs. South Korea||Children’s Mercy Park||18,467|
|10/26/21||USA vs. South Korea||Allianz Field||18,115|
Attendance for friendlies in 2021 was noticeably lower in 2021 than it was in 2019. However, there is a fairly reasonable explanation. The first four friendlies in 2021 were played at a time when many cities still had capacity restrictions for sporting events. But overall the average attendance for the eleven USWNT friendlies in 2021 was 15,186.
2021 She Believes Cup
|2/18/21||USA vs. Canada||Exploria Stadium||3,104|
|2/21/21||USA vs. Brazil||Exploria Stadium||4,000|
|2/24/21||USA vs. Argentina||Exploria Stadium||3,702|
The situation for the 2021 She Believes Cup was very much the same as it was for the first few friendlies that year in regards to capacity restrictions. There was also the additional quirk of all three games being in the same stadium (which we’ve already seen typically causes smaller crowds). As such, the average attendance for these three games was a mere 3,602.
2022 She Believes Cup
|2/17/22||USA vs. Czech Republic||Dignity Health Sports Park||7,333|
|2/20/22||USA vs. New Zealand||Dignity Health Sports Park||16,587|
|2/23/22||USA vs. Iceland||Toyota Stadium||7,444|
The crowds for this version of the She Believes Cup were, somewhat surprisingly, not all that great. Yes, two of the three games were played in the same venue, but one would have expected a boost following the strong showings after capacity restrictions were lifted in the second half of the prior year. Average for these three games was 10,455.
|4/9/22||USA vs. Uzbekistan||Lower.com Field||12,071|
|4/12/22||USA vs. Uzbekistan||Subaru Park||11,373|
|6/25/22||USA vs. Colombia||Dick’s Sporting Goods Park||17,143|
|6/28/22||USA vs. Colombia||America First Field||16,077|
|9/3/22||USA vs. Nigeria||Children’s Mercy Park||14,502|
|9/6/22||USA vs. Nigeria||Audi Field||18,869|
|11/10/22||USA vs. Germany||DRV PNK Stadium||16,917|
|11/13/22||USA vs. Germany||Red Bull Arena||26,317|
The USWNT friendlies in 2022 tell a much better tale than the She Believes Cup. The eight friendly games drew an average of 16,659. The biggest crowds were for the biggest names while the two smallest crowds were for the smallest name in Uzbekistan, who the USMNT will also be playing in September.
2023 She Believes Cup
|2/16/23||USA vs. Canada||Exploria Stadium||14,697|
|2/19/23||USA vs. Japan||Geodis Park||25,471|
|2/22/23||USA vs. Brazil||Toyota Stadium||17,784|
The 2023 She Believes Cup saw the USWNT return to Nashville (where they had played in previous editions of the tournament against France in 2016 and against England in 2019). But this time was the first ever international game at the brand new Geodis Park, home of Nashville SC in MLS. The average attendance for the three games was 19,317, the best since the 2020 tournament
|4/8/23||USA vs. Republic of Ireland||Q2 Stadium||20,593|
|4/11/23||USA vs. Republic of Ireland||CityPark||22,294|
|7/9/23||USA vs. Wales||PayPal Park||18,000|
And it’s not a surprise that the last three friendlies the USWNT played before heading off to New Zealand were all stone cold sellouts. While they didn’t get a true send-off series, these three games still showed tremendous support. Three games in MLS stadiums, three sellouts: average attendance – 20,296.
So despite the USWNT attendance being down over the course of the four years cycle, there are still some positives. First, it seems unlikely that there will be another pandemic that shuts everything down any time in the near future. Second is that the US are favorites to three-peat down under, which would lead to another successful Victory Tour.
And lastly, there is a possibility that the next Women’s World Cup could be played in the US. If that happens, it would not only usher in the greatest opportunity for soccer growth in American soccer history (combined with the World Cup here in 2016 and Olympic soccer in LA in 2028) but it would also serve to boost WNT attendance even further.
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