Bogota’s Millonarios are the team with the highest overall attendance in Colombian soccer, according to a study conducted by RCN Radio.
The “Blues” just edged out Nacional for most home attendance over the past five seasons.While Nacional has the highest average attendance since the fall 2011 season (212,158 fans per season), Millonarios had the greater combined total, bringing in almost 892,000 fans during the five-season period.
At halfway through the 2013 campaign, Millonarios trail only Junior in overall attendance, with 67,000 and 76,172 recorded attendees respectively on the season. Last spring, 265, 269 Millonarios supporters went to games at the El Campin stadium in Bogota, almost 20,000 more than the next best team.
Chief business officer for the club Roberto Arango attributes the recent success to strategies that improve security in and around the stadium, which had previously been a large concern, keeping fans, and families in particular, away from games across the country.
Hooliganism is still a problem in Colombia, as the targeted killings of three Nacional fans in Bogota this weekend demonstrate. But the collective efforts of club directors throughout the league have led to improvements in attendance, according to league officials.
The results of the study are not too surprising: of the top six teams in attendance — in order, Millonarios, Nacional, Junior, Santa Fe, Medellin, Cali — four are in the top five of the standings, and each enjoy strong traditional fan bases in the country’s main urban centers. With a few minor exceptions, the attendance list looks more or less like the league leader board.
The picture for rural teams, on the other hand, is tougher. Alianza Petrolera was only able to bring in 7,000 fans in its first season in the Primera. HUila, meanwhile, managed less attendance over the past two seasons than Nacional has halfway through the current one. There was an almost 200% difference in average attendance over the past five seasons between the highest and lowest teams in the league.
In the Liga Postobon, long criticized for its relegation format, some teams find it hard to complete for fans, much less points in the league.