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USL Sets Opening Weekend Attendance Record

By Staff, 03/27/17, 7:11PM EDT


League sees 38 percent rise in attendance on previous mark in Week 1 of 2017 season

TAMPA, Fla. – The United Soccer League (USL), the largest Division II professional league in the world, hit a new high mark as almost 60,000 fans (58,145) attended USL Kickoff over the past weekend, a 38 percent rise in the league’s previous high, when 42,257 fans attended the league’s 13-game slate to start the 2016 season.

“We are absolutely delighted to have seen the outstanding support and atmosphere the fans brought to USL Kickoff weekend,” said USL President Jake Edwards. “Having seen firsthand the passion the fans brought to the Tampa Bay Rowdies’ opening game on Saturday, the amazing scenes elsewhere in new facilities in Phoenix and the Rio Grande Valley, and the remarkable show put on by the fans in Richmond, I cannot say enough about how excited I am for the rest of the season.”

Buoyed by new clubs, new venues and new high-profile signings, the USL boasted the four highest-attended games in the United States outside Major League Soccer over the weekend. Leading the way were the Richmond Kickers, which welcomed a club-record crowd of 8,021 to City Stadium for the first game of the historic club’s 25th season.

The Tampa Bay Rowdies, Phoenix Rising FC and Rio Grande Valley FC also set club records in their respective home openers. The Rowdies welcomed 7,710 fans – and USL President Jake Edwards – to Al Lang Stadium for the club’s first game in the USL, and the side took a 1-0 victory against Orlando City B as the I-4 Derby kicked off the new season.

Rising FC packed 6,890 fans into the new Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex on Saturday night, with the outstanding new venue welcoming numerous guests including USL Chief Executive Officer Alec Papadakis to its grand opening. Rio Grande Valley FC had more than 6,000 fans on hand for its first USL regular season contest on Sunday against San Antonio FC, after a sellout crowd of 9,700 fans had opened the venue last Wednesday night for an international exhibition against Liga MX’s C.F. Monterrey.

The league also saw fans tune in throughout the weekend on the USL Match Center, with 909,000 minutes of action being viewed over the course of USL Kickoff on the league’s YouTube channel. Additionally, seven games were broadcast locally as the advent of USL Productions, the league’s $10 million investment in state-of-the-art broadcast production, broadcast and distribution facilities with VISTA Worldlink in south Florida, brought all of the action to fans across the United States with support from up-to-the-minute match statistics provided by industry leader Opta.

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