NPSL, with a lift from Spirit, reaches record attendance

February 05, 1993|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Staff Writer

In its 150th game, with more than 100 still to go, the National Professional Soccer League last night broke its attendance record.

The crowd of 4,185 in Buffalo for the Blizzard's 12-8 victory against the Wichita Wings raised NPSL attendance to 709,723. The previous record of 709,280 for 196 regular-season and playoff games was established last season.

With 13 teams, the NPSL has four more than last season. Still, average attendance is up more than 1,100, from 3,619 last season to 4,731.

The Spirit ranks No. 6 in home attendance with 60,137, an average of 4,625 for 13 games. The Chicago Power, however, No. 7 with 50,605 (4,600 average), will jump ahead of the Spirit this weekend with two anticipated crowds of 10,000.

The Spirit played before 1,256 Wednesday in Denver in a 15-13 victory over the Thunder. Rusty Troy, Tim Wittman and Goran Hunjak each had four points, as the Spirit raised its NPSL-best record to 18-6.

"We get killed weekdays, attendance-wise," said Paul Luchowski, the league's director of operations. "Last Saturday night the Thunder had 6,852 for a 15-10 loss to Chicago."

With the slim crowd for the Spirit game -- partly a result of five inches of snow on Wednesday -- Denver's average attendance is 3,332, 11th in the league. The Thunder has played only five home games since changing last month from McNichols Sports Arena to the Denver Coliseum.

"The Coliseum is a smaller venue, with only 8,000 seats," said David Feinsod, a Thunder official. "That's better for us."

Since its financial problems in December, when it was behind on its rent at McNichols and hadn't met the player payroll, the Thunder has resurrected itself. Dave Clements, a former coach and general manager in the now-defunct Major Soccer League, is the new team president.

"Denver is going to wind up playing 14 home games when everybody else will have at least 20," Luchowski said. "The problem was, after the Thunder changed its home arena, there )) weren't enough good dates for its remaining home games.

"Some of the Thunder's home dates were given to opponents, which means they'll have an extra home game. But those games will draw more than a mid-week game in Denver."

Thunder attendance actually is up. Last season, playing in Rockford,Ill., the team averaged 1,613.

The Thunder is one of the holdover NPSL teams whose attendance has risen. Chicago, Kansas City and Harrisburg also show increases. Milwaukee, No. 3 in the league with a 6,539 average, is down from its league-record 7,629 last season, doubtless because of its 7-14 record.

The Spirit expects to have its largest crowd of the season Feb. 13 against the Cleveland Crunch at the Baltimore Arena when the first 5,000 fans 18 and under will receive a free NPSL soccer ball. More than 6,500 tickets have been sold.

The Spirit's largest home crowd was 6,563 for its Jan. 23 game against the Wichita Wings.

NPSL attendance

H

Team.. .. .. .. ..G .. .. .. .. ..Total.. .. .. .. Avg.

St. Louis .. .. ..11 .. .. .. .. .75,354 .. .. .. ..6,850

Buffalo .. .. ....13 .. .. .. ... 88,734 .. .. .. ..6,826

Milwaukee .. .. ..10 .. .. .. .. 65,397 .. .. .. ..6,539

Cleveland .. .. . 11 .. .. .. .. 68,157 .. .. .. ..6,196

Wichita .. .. .. 13 .. .. .. .. 75,029 .. .. .. ..5,771

Baltimore .. .. ..13 .. .. .. .. 60,137 .. .. .. . 4,625

Chicago .. .. .. 11 .. .. .. .. 50,605 .. .. .. 4,600

Kansas City .. .. 12 .. .. .. .. 53,808 .. ... .. 4,484

Harrisburg .. .. .12 .. .. .. .. 49,216 .. .. .. .4,101

Dayton .. .. .. . 13 .. .. .. .. .43,785 .. .. ... 3,368

Denver .. .. .. .. 5 .. .. .. .. .16,661 .. .. .. .3,332

Detroit .. .. .. ..12 .. .. .. ...34,502 .. .. .. 2,875

Canton .. .. .. .. 14 .. .. .. ...28,338 .. .. .. .2,024

Totals .. .. .. .. 150 .. .. ... .709,723 .. .. .. 4,731

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