An exciting match and a sellout crowd at the 2016 NPSL National Championship Powered by Mitre was the perfect way to end the 2016 NPSL season. It was a season marked by impressive growth, huge crowds, and an exciting postseason.
“The ability of NPSL teams to connect with their fans, foster rivalries, attract premier players, and create special gameday environments all led to these record-breaking attendance numbers,” NPSL Chairman Joe Barone commented. “In addition to attendance numbers, NPSL surpassed expectations in 2016 through rapid expansion, increases in social media metrics, and more live streamed matches.”
The 2016 season saw the league grow in every region, bringing the league total to 84 teams, making it the largest national league in the U.S. The Great Lake West, South Central, and Southwest Conferences experienced the largest growth, furthering the league’s footprint in those areas.
Nine expansion teams actually made it into the postseason with three advancing to the regional finals. The unprecedented success for Albion SC Pros, Grand Rapids FC, and New Jersey Copa FC set the standard for expansion teams moving forward.
Crowds throughout the league were on the rise in 2016. The largest crowd reported during the regular season was 7,410 for a May 20th match between Detroit City FC and AFC Ann Arbor. DCFC, consistently one of the league leaders in attendance, saw their attendance grow even further with a move to historic Keyworth Stadium in Hamtramck, MI.
Grand Rapids FC (6,854), Chattanooga FC (6,480), Tulsa Athletics (4,512), Little Rock Rangers (3,756), and Shreveport Rafters FC (3,000) each reported massive crowds throughout the regular season.
But the largest attendance figure from 2016 came from Chattanooga on July 30th. 12,251 fans and supporters turned out for Chattanooga’s national semifinal against Sonoma County Sol FC. It was the second-largest crowd in CFC history.
The 2016 postseason was one of the wildest and most unpredictable in recent history. A number of games were pushed into extra time and several went to penalty kicks. This provided for tense and exciting moments for fans and supporters. The end result was another new national champion in AFC Cleveland. The streak continues as no current or former NPSL team has ever won two national titles.
“The excitement and parity we continue to see in the postseason validates NPSL’s investment in a national playoff system,” Managing Director Jef Thiffault concluded. “In addition to the sellout crowd, the live stream from Saturday’s NPSL National Championship on AFC Cleveland’s YouTube channel was viewed in 64 different countries. The NPSL National Championship placed AFC Cleveland in an extraordinary light within its market and capped off a tremendous year for NPSL.”