Let’s take a minute and talk Swope Park Rangers. I will be the first to admit that I am not as familiar with the players and dynamics of the USL team. I don’t miss a Sporting game and even travel to catch a few road games each season. I know every player and who is injured and who plays where and if they can play other positions, but I’m just not as familiar with the Swope Park Rangers. I have been to a few SPR matches at Children’s Mercy Park and the quality of play has been sufficient and entertaining, but I always leave there with two thoughts in my head. Why is nobody coming to the games and how can we fix that?
I did a little digging and found that in 2018 the Swope Park Rangers average home match attendance was only 881 people and that honestly feels pretty generous compared to the matches I’ve been to. It sure feels like less than that. That average attendance placed the Rangers at 31st in the league of 33 teams last season. Only the New York Red Bulls II and Toronto FC II have lower average attendance with 812 and 810 respectively.
It is pretty clear that USL teams that have an MLS team they are associated with have much lower attendance than USL teams that stand alone. That makes sense. Fans of MLS teams have their team already. They have games to go to, tickets to buy and merchandise to purchase while the stand alone USL teams can have fans that don’t have to stretch their fandom between two teams. The Seattle Sounders FC 2 had the highest average of teams affiliated with an MLS team with an average of 3,370 people in attendance (they have since rebranded to the Tacoma Defiance for the 2019 season).
In 2018 FC Cincinnati had the highest average attendance with 25,717 per match. We know that FC Cincinnati are now in MLS so let’s take them out of the conversation. The second highest average attendance was Sacramento Republic at 11,311 and then Indy Eleven with 10,163. The league average in 2018 was 4,916.
Why do the Swope Park Rangers average over 4,000 less than the league average? Is it only because Kansas City has Sporting and the fans just don’t care about another team? Is it because SPR play at Children’s Mercy Park instead of their own smaller stadium? I don’t know the answer to why.
Sporting Kansas City has already offered free tickets to any season ticket member. All they have to do is contact their account representative and ask. I have emailed my rep on a Monday afternoon for a Wednesday match and received them with no problem. It is an easy thing to do. So why aren’t more season ticket members going out to watch? There has been a lot of chatter online among Sporting fans of a recent article that shows that Sporting Season Ticket Members in the supporters section pay more than any other MLS team supporting section, but think about the fact that you really also have free season tickets to Swope Park Rangers included in that price!
If you aren’t a season ticket member and can’t get those free tickets then the SPR matches are a pretty cheap family night of entertainment! Tickets are usually around $12 a piece and it is all GA seating so you can take a family of four out to the game for around $50 and sit front row!
I am very aware that SPR is no comparison to going to Children’s Mercy Park and watching Sporting play, but those young guys are working hard. Their record this year isn’t great, but they still put out effort and deserve to have more than a handful of people coming to watch. I don’t know how to make it better. I don’t know what needs to be done, but surely we can do something to get that attendance up!