Which Professional Sports Leagues Draw The Biggest Crowds? Here’s The Breakdown

What is the most attended sport in the world? Here's a comparison of the most popular leagues on the planet.

Fresh off the MLS Cup drawing a larger crowd than the Super Bowl at the same stadium, it’s the perfect time to dive into the largest sports attendance records around the planet. So, what is the most attended sport in the world? 

As you’ll see, things are looking pretty good for MLS — the league boasts a larger average crowd than both the NBA and NHL. However, when it comes to putting bums in seats, the NFL is by far the dominant force on the planet despite suffering its worst average attendance in nearly a decade over the course of the 2018 season.

Below, you’ll find average attendances for leagues around the world, including the teams that have the highest and lowest figures and, when discoverable, the all-time record attendance. All the numbers have been compiled using the latest completed seasons. 

What Is The Most Attended Sport In The World? 

The “Big Five” U.S. Sports 

2018 NFL attendance average: 67,100

Highest average attendance: Dallas Cowboys — 91,619

Lowest average attendance: Los Angeles Chargers — 32,768

All-time NFL attendance record: 105,121 — Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants on Sept. 20, 2009, at Cowboys Stadium

2018 MLB attendance average: 28,830 

Highest average attendance: Los Angeles Dodgers — 47,043

Lowest average attendance: Miami Marlins — 10,014 

All-time MLB attendance record: 92,706 — Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Chicago White Sox on Oct. 6, 1959, at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum 

2018 MLS attendance average: 21,875

Highest average attendance: Atlanta United — 53,002

Lowest average attendance: Columbus Crew — 12,447

All-time record MLS attendance: 73,019 – Atlanta United vs. Portland Timbers on Dec. 8, 2018, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium 

2017-18 NBA attendance average: 17,987  

Highest average attendance: Chicago Bulls — 20,776

Lowest average attendance: Atlanta Hawks — 14,409 

All-time NBA attendance record: 62,046 — Atlanta Hawks vs. Chicago Bulls on Mar. 27, 1998, at the Georgia Dome 

2017-18 NHL attendance average: 17,446  

Highest average attendance: Chicago Blackhawks — 21,654

Lowest average attendance: New York Islanders — 12,002

All-time NHL attendance record: 104,173 — Detroit Red Wings vs. Toronto Maples Leafs on Jan. 1, 2014, at Michigan Stadium 

Europe’s “Big Five” Leagues

2017-18 Bundesliga average attendance: 44,657

Highest average attendance: Borussia Dortmund — 79,496

Lowest average attendance: SC Freiburg — 23,894

2017-18 Premier League average attendance: 38,273 

Highest average attendance: Manchester United — 74,976

Lowest average attendance: AFC Bournemouth — 10,640

All-time Premier League attendance record: 83,222 — Tottenham vs. Arsenal on Feb. 10, 2018, at Wembley 

2017-18 LaLiga average attendance: 27,290

Highest average attendance: FC Barcelona — 70,568

Lowest average attendance: SD Eibar — 5,337

2017-18 Serie A average attendance: 24,784

Highest average attendance: Inter Milan — 57,529

Lowest average attendance: FC Crotone — 10,581

2017-18 Ligue 1 average attendance: 22,560

Highest average attendance: PSG — 46,930

Lowest average attendance: AS Monaco — 9,243

Other Notable Soccer Leagues/Competitions

2018 FIFA World Cup average attendance: 47,371

Highest attendance: Multiple matches — 78,011

Lowest attendance: Egypt vs. Uruguay — 27,015

All-time World Cup attendance record: 199,854 — Brazil vs. Uruguay on July 16, 1950, at the Maracanã.

2018 Chinese Super League average attendance: 24,046 

Highest average attendance: Guangzhou Evergrande — 47,890

Lowest average attendance: Beijing Renhe — 10,368 

2018-19 Liga MX Apertura average attendance: 22,896

Highest average attendance: Tigres UANL — 40,995

Lowest average attendance: Lobos BUAP — 9,452 

2018 National Women’s Soccer League average attendance: 6,024

Highest average attendance: Portland Thorns — 16,959

Lowest average attendance: Sky Blue — 2,531 

All-time NWSL attendance record: 23,403 — Orlando Pride vs. Houston Dash on Apr. 23, 2016, at the Citrus Bowl

(For more women's club soccer attendance records, read this.)

Other Notable Sports Around The World

2018 Australian Football League average attendance: 36,687

Highest average attendance: Richmond — 57,554

Lowest average attendance: Gold Coast — 18,670

All-time AFL attendance record: 121,696 — Collingwood vs. Carlton on Sept. 28, 1970, at Melbourne Cricket Ground

2018 Nippon Professional Baseball average attendance: 29,785  

Highest average attendance: Yomiuri Giants — 41,699

Lowest average attendance: Orix Buffaloes — 22,575 

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