A sports town where hockey reigns supreme, Toronto is starting to see the emergence of soccer assimilate itself into the northern culture. However it will take time before it starts to make a a considerable impact alongside the city's historic teams.
With the world's game attracting billions of viewers on the eastern part of the world, soccer has yet to sustainably break into the North American market.
To dissect the data and break down the stats, I want to break Toronto's sports clubs popularity in four difference categories. Game attendance, ticket sales/prices, consumption and youth participation.
Breaking down hockey attendance, let's look at the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs, as some may refer to as Toronto's team, rank seventh in the league during the 2014-2015 season, averaging 19,062 people at home. Overall they're ranked eighth averaging 18, 249 attendees.
Looking at the NBA now, according to ESPN, the hometown Toronto Raptors ranked fifth in league attendance averaging 19,751 people per game. Overall, the Raptors are tied sixth with the New York Knicks averaging 18, 637 fans per game.
Now baseball. Per ESPN, in 2015 the Toronto Blue Jays average 34,504 attendees at home, ranking them fifth in the league. Despite that, the Jays dropped to 10th overall averaging 31,922 attendants.
Simply based on attendance numbers alone, it looks as if Toronto FC gains more attendees therefore making them most popular right? Saying so would be incorrect. And while I understand that some may argue arena size and capacity is a reason for some of these numbers, we have to look at different categories. So let's take a look at ticket prices.
In the NHL, the Maple Leafs have the most expensive tickets in the league in 2014. According to TIPIQ.com, Leafs tickets were $219.44 however in the beginning of the 2014-15 season, tickets to see the blue and white went up to $446.25, a 37.95% rise in sales.
In the MLB, the Blue Jays had the 4th most expensive tickets in their league in 2014. Per TIPIQ.com, Jays tickets averaged $104.54 per game. But with the Jays making the postseason for the first time in 22 years, expect prices to go up significantly.
In the NBA, the Raptors saw a dramatic change in ticket prices. In the 2012-13 season, Raps tickets were only $94.86 but due to the recent playoffs emergence tickets went up to $152.13, a 60% change.
In the MLS, per Forbes, FC ranked sixth in ticket prices on the secondary market. Average ticket costs for FC are $81.32.
So even though TFC attracts more people to come out to their games than the rest of Toronto's teams, their tickets are also the cheapest.
Now in order to determine full popularity, we have to break down the numbers of viewers. In this case, we'll talk a look at television viewership across the country.
According to Yahoo! Sports, MLS is not scoring big at all in the television market. In a weekend where the NBA, MLS, NHL and MLB were televised, hockey was still the most watched.
Rogers and CBC's joint Hockey Night in Canada broadcast generated 2,100,000 views taking the lead. The Baltimore Orioles - Toronto Blue Jays game on Sportsnet had 322,000 views ranking 7th on the list. The Portland Trailblazers - Toronto Raptors game on Sportsnet had 215,000 views ranking 10th and the Toronto FC at Columbus game on TSN had 58,000 views, ranking 27th on the list.
It's looks as if though people are going to TFC games in Toronto due to the somewhat cheap prices, television viewership is not helping the cause.
Now let's talk participation. With hockey requiring tons of gear, it appears more people are becoming more actively involved in other sports. In 2013, the CBC collected data figuring out participation within youth and adults. In 2012, 537, 251 under 18 males registered for minor hockey while 86, 897 under 18 females registered.
When it came to Canadian adults, the CBC found that 5.2% of Canadians 15 and older played golf while 4.4% played hockey. Soccer surprisingly came third with 3.5 Canadian participants.
When it comes to costs to play, it came to no surprise that hockey was the most expensive. The total price tag to play hockey was $730, baseball $335 and basketball $310 however soccer only cost $160 to play making it the second cheapest for youth to play only behind martial arts which cost $60.
To put it all in perspective, the Maple Leafs may have a somewhat low attendance however people are coming out despite the high ticket prices. They still have the highest viewership in the city which is helping their cause but in regards to Toronto FC, people aren't tuning in as much.
As for participation, we have to considered youth participants and concerned parents, who will play a major factor in the future. The new generation of children are playing cheaper sports like soccer instead of the high priced sports of hockey.