The 2022 Canadian Premier League was the first “real” season that the league had with 8 teams, and the first full season since Covid-19 started in 2020. Since then we have had the Island Games in 2020 where no one was in attendance and a half bubble/half-regular season for 2021, where some fans stayed away due to risk/fear of getting Covid-19.
Looking at the 2019 attendance compared to the 2022 attendance is quite interesting and the best way to compare attendance data we have on such a young league. (Note Atletico Ottawa did not exist in 2019 and instead was Ottawa Fury which played in the USL, but both play at TD Place in Ottawa, and both only used the south side stands). Only two teams grew their attendance in 2022 compared to 2019, with Pacific gaining on average 72 people per game, and Cavalry gaining 199 people per game which was the league’s best.
On the other end of the spectrum, the remaining six teams shrunk their average attendance in 2022 compared to 2019. The worst team to do so was Forge losing on average 2957 people per game, followed by Valour losing 2224 people per game and York United (in 2019 they were York9) losing 1489 people per game. The remaining teams also did lose people in seats but not with as high numbers, which can be viewed in the table below.
In a league that is largely driven by seat revenue this is major money that the clubs are missing out on, but also shows that some people are still staying away from large gatherings of people due to Covid-19. Teams should be able to grow their average attendance in 2023 compared with 2022 with yet again a full season available to be played, more people willing to go to large sporting events and each team (minus expansion side Vancouver) having established themselves more in the local market to draw people in.
|Team||2019 Regular Season Attendance Average||2019 Regular Season Attendance Average|
2022 Regular Season Attendance Average
|Difference Between 2019-2022|
|Atletico Ottawa||4555 (USL)||4069||-486|
Looking at the 2022 average attendance and comparing it to the population of each Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) is another interesting way to view attendance. Looking at the CMA of each city that the team is based in and then dividing it by the average attendance for the 2022 season gives you the number of people who currently go to games.
HFX Wanders lead the league in this with 1 out of every 79.94 people in the CMA that goes to a game. Followed by Pacific with 1 out of every 124.99 people, and Forge with 1 out of every 216.24 people. On the other end of the spectrum are York United with 1 out of every 5026.11 people who go to a game, FC Edmonton with 1 out of every 1234.10 people, and Cavalry with 1 out of every 424.34 people who attend a game.
S. 2 Ep. 21: Canada Doing What Canada Does – FC13 Podcast
Average attendance compared to the CMA population is influenced by a lot of factors such as stadium location, sports competition, and how the team is doing. For example both HFX Wanders and Pacific are the only major summer sports team in their regions and the HFX stadium is right downtown and easy to get to. Compared to York Untied which has to compete again the Blue Jays, Toronto FC and the Argos for viewership is in a bad location and did poorly this season which all contributed to low average attendance. For teams such as Forge, Valour and Ateltico, the only team they have to compete against is their respective CFL teams, all of their stadiums are located more or less downtown, are easy to get to, and all had a strong season, so their numbers are average.
|Team||2022 Regular Season Attendance Average||Population of CMA 2021 Census||Average attendance compared to CMA population|
|Halifax Wanders||5825||465,703||1/79.94 People|
|Atletico Ottawa||4069||1,488,307||1/365.76 People|
|FC Edmonton||1071||1,418,118||1/1324.10 People|
|York United||1234||6,202,225||1/5026.11 People|