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MLS on track to break historic attendance records

As soccer continues to grow in the United States, stadiums across the country have drawn 6.5 million supporters in just four months.

How many people watch MLS?
Katie StratmanUSA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

The growth of soccer continues apace in the United States and, although eyes have now turned to Copa América, new data from MLS show the extent of the game’s growth.

Just four months into the season, the number of fans attending MLS games in 2024 is already at 6.5 million. That figure is 725,000 higher than the same point last season. We’ve already seen 15 games with more than 40,000 supporters, which is also a record for this stage of the season.

The in-stadium increase is particularly impressive considering the development of Apple TV’s MLS Season Pass, which has given supporters across the country the chance to watch every single game with a single subscription. In comparison to other nations - where easy-to-watch televised games are said to harm in-stadium attendances - greater coverage appears to have stimulated interest in the league.

Why are MLS crowds getting bigger?

Of course, the arrival of Lionel Messi and the rest of the Barcelona contingent has helped to push interest in MLS to new heights. The largest crowd of 2024 to date was Inter Miami’s trip to Sporting Kansas City, which drew more than 72,000 fans. MLS commissioner Don Garber paid tribute to Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham, who has central to Messi’s move to the States.

“I think all of you know he’s done well,” Garber told reporters. “It’s been great for Major League Soccer. It’s great for Inter Miami. This is very much about where we were in 2007 and where we are today. Somebody wrote this article or a headline that said ‘Will David Beckham change the course of soccer in América?’ He didn’t just do it once, he did it twice.”

But David Beckham’s business savvy is not the only force fuelling the incredible rise. Season tickets sales are up across the league, with 15% more sold in 2024 than in the previous season. The league has looked to standardising scheduling, too, with Saturday evening becoming the designated time slot for MLS action.

With the Copa América this summer, followed by the World Cup in 2026, there is a sense of excitement around soccer in the United States. No longer a militant outsider in the US’ sporting landscape, soccer has started to form deep roots in communities across the country and is drawing huge crowds to stadiums.