The Pittsburgh Riverhounds postponed Saturday’s match against Keystone Derby rivals, Harrisburg City Islanders. On some levels, it was probably a relief to Riverhounds management.
On the same night, westward down the Ohio River, new USL franchise FC Cincinnati drew over 14,658 fans to Nippert Stadium for its first-ever home game, a 1-0 defeat over Charlotte Independence. There’s no doubt this attendance number, impressive even for an inaugural game, had to raise some eyebrows here in Pittsburgh, around the USL and U.S. Soccer landscape.
The largest home crowd the Riverhounds have ever played in front of has never exceeded 5,500, and with attendance leveling at 2,600 the past two years after nearly drawing 3,500 a game in Highmark Stadium’s first season in 2013, the Hounds are hoping they can see a rise in 2016.
While I am sure that the Riverhounds players and the coaches were eager to get back into league play following a disappointing opening night result versus a stingy Rochester side a week ago, the postponement also provides team officials a chance to add another date in mid-summer when ticket sales and attendance has peaked traditionally for the franchise since its inception in 1999.
With low temperatures and windy conditions after a day of on-and-off snow, it would have been yet another a sparse early season crowd at Highmark Stadium on Saturday. On the other hand while the weather was only slightly better in Cincinnati, it still didn’t keep away one of the largest crowds in USL history.
We’ll be watching closely in the coming weeks and months if FC Cincinnati can build on the momentum with 14 more league home dates, or if this was something of an aberration.
The Riverhounds will make their first visit to Cincinnati on Saturday, May 14.
As a result of Saturday’s postponement, the Riverhounds will move the home game to Sunday, July 17, now making it the second clash between the in-state rivals of the season. The teams will play on Monday, July 4 at Highmark Stadium, then a third match at Harrisburg in August.
The other news earlier this week relating to the annual series of matches between the Hounds and the City Islanders was that the Keystone Derby Series between the rivals will now be sponsored by K&L Gates and the PA Lottery.
In addition, the Riverhounds, who are still working with a limited promotional and marketing budget, released a 2016 promotional schedule earlier this week.
In case you have not seen, the Hounds marketing and ticket sales staff are hoping to attract even more non-traditional fans to Highmark Stadium this year through a variety of promotions and games that will honor and recognize various community groups and organization’s.
Here is the full promo schedule below. Obviously, the April 9th date -slated to be Yinzer Night, will be pushed back to July 17, giving the Hounds some time to potentially have some fun with that one. Maybe they should check to see if Donnie Iris or Joe Grushecky are still available.