Orlando Pride

Building the Pride Fan Base

There are challenges to increasing attendance at Orlando Pride matches.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

As a supporter of the Orlando Pride, it bothers me that the attendance at Pride home matches is not higher. I understand there are many contributing factors, but I also think that there must be something that can be done about it. Let’s take a look at the challenges involved in putting more butts in seats this season, and moving forward.

First, let’s look at some general information. In the 2016 inaugural season, the Pride’s average attendance was 8,785. That’s not too bad, though it was assisted by a crowd over 23,000 for the home opener and went downhill from there. From 2017 to 2022 the attendance averages were 6,186, 4,837, 5,565, 4,227, and 4,385, respectively. Last season, the Pride’s average attendance was 6,005. That is a significant increase year over year, but still not even close to 2016. So far in 2024, the Pride saw 6,306 in the home opener against Angel City FC, and 5,586 against the Chicago Red Stars.

As I said above, there are some contributing factors to the drop in numbers. There have been four head coaches in just nine years. Tom Sermanni was the right coach to start it off, but neither Marc Skinner nor Amanda Cromwell were right for the position in the end. I believe that the club has made the right decision with Seb Hines, but he still has plenty to prove.

On-field success can impact attendance. The Pride have only made the NWSL playoffs once in the 2017 season. Several years the Pride were cellar dwellers, but Hines seems to be turning that around. The Pride only missed the playoffs in 2023 because of the goal differential tiebreaker. Perhaps some of the early fans fell off during the down years and have not yet decided to come back. Greater success on the field might bring those fans back, but that’s not enough to grow the fan base significantly.

Other factors include the COVID-19 pandemic, cost of living, lack of awareness, and misogyny. There’s not much anyone can do about a pandemic, so I’ll leave that out of the potentially solvable category. Sadly, there’s only so much that can be done about misogyny and the perception of women’s sports by some people. I generally try to stay away from people like that. I hope that there aren’t Orlando City fans who feel that way, and I wonder why more don’t also lend their support to the Pride. That leaves two other factors that can be addressed.

The cost of living is currently higher than most of us like. Like many of you, I also have to work within a budget. In 2024, Pride season ticket packages run from only $140 to $322. West Club season tickets were the most at $840. There are 13 home matches on the schedule this year. That means season ticket prices range from $10.77 per match to $24.77 per match, with West Club season tickets being $64.62 per match. There’s very little you can do that provides as much entertainment for only $140.

Perhaps you don’t want to commit to season tickets. Single match tickets aren’t much more, ranging from $13 to $30, with West Club tickets coming in at $70. You can’t get a movie ticket for $13, so I don’t think that is what is keeping most people from going to a Pride match. That takes us to the next factor.

Orlando proper is home to approximately 300,000 people. The greater Orlando area is home to approximately 2.6 million people. If only half of one percent of the those people went to one match that would be 13,000 people. Obviously, not everyone likes soccer, but I think that some people just haven’t been introduced to it. If each of the 6,005 people on average took a friend to a match last season, that would be 12,010 people in the seats. I’m not trying to put increasing attendance completely on Pride supporters, but I do think they can be a part of the solution.

The other part of the equation is the club. The Wilf family is investing in the stadium, in all the teams, and in the facilities. The Pride just made one of the biggest transfer deals in NWSL history by signing Barbra Banda. The transfer fee was $740,000 and she’s signed to a four-year contract. Owners don’t do that type of deal for a women’s club if they are not invested in the success of the club. Of course, big signings aren’t the only evidence of the Wilfs’ commitment.

I know that some might still be sore about the Inter&Co Stadium naming deal. Frankly, it’s probably time to get over it if you haven’t already. The deal is providing money that the club is using to enhance the fan experience at matches for both Orlando City and the Orlando Pride. The amount of local food vendors that are now set up in the stadium is truly astounding, and I can’t wait to see the new big screen in action.

Increasing attendance for both teams is a major goal of Orlando City President of Business Operations Jarrod Dillon, as we learned two years ago in my initial conversation with him. Dillon has now been on the job for two years. He and his staff are behind the stadium enhancements meant to elevate the fan experience on match day. There are billboards, commercials featuring players, player appearances, and other community involvement by both teams. How does one spread the word about the club and how fun matches can be? This is the challenge.

I certainly don’t have the solution. If I did, I’m sure I’d be making a lot more money working for Dillon and living in Orlando rather than Tallahassee. I like to think we at The Mane Land do at least a little by covering the team on our website and on our two podcasts, but there’s only so much any individual or website can do. That being said, I’m curious what you our readers think might be the issue? What do you think might help increase attendance for both teams, and in particular the Pride?


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