Aztex see attendance drop with all eyes on World Cup
American interest in the World Cup has been at an all-time high in recent weeks, and the elimination-round game between the United States and Ghana on June 26 was the most-watched men’s soccer match in U.S. history, ESPN said.
And yet, attendance numbers for Austin’s pro soccer club, the Aztex, have declined since the World Cup began on June 11. The Aztex drew an average of 2,492 fans for two recent USSF Division-2 matches played during the World Cup, a decline of 33 percent compared to the 3,757 fans the team averaged in previous league home matches.
At Austin’s most recent home match, against Miami on June 19, a seasonlow 2,143 fans were in attendance at House Park.
A review of team-submitted attendance figures showed that other USSF Division-2 clubs had experienced similar dips in attendance during the World Cup.
“It’s a dual-edged sword,” Aztex owner Phil Rawlins said. “On the one hand, you want the World Cup be- cause it raises the (sport’s) profile and people’s awareness of the game. … But at the same time, it takes a little bit away from the local soccer programs because you’re competing against the world’s biggest sporting event.”
The Aztex will face Puerto Rico tonight in their first home game since the U.S. was knocked out of the World Cup. The match will give Austin a chance to see if attendance bounces back.
On Wednesday, Rawlins said the team expected improved numbers based on the amount of group tickets already sold.
“You want (the World Cup) because of the excitement and the interest it creates, but in the shortterm, when you’re going head-to-head with it for a couple weeks, it doesn’t help your (attendance) numbers,” Rawlins said. “But as it starts to wind down now, people will have an increased appetite and interest in the game. Then we’ll see the attendance numbers come up on the back of that (interest).”