The growth of US soccer is big business

Officials and guests of the New York City Football Club rang the opening bell Wednesday at the New York Stock Exchange.

Jon Patricof, president of NYCFC, was there to promote the "Hudson River Derby" — a match between his club and its cross-river rivals, the New York Red Bulls. The game will take place Aug. 22 at Yankee Stadium, NYCFC's home venue.

The New York City Football Club is a Major League Soccer team. Its first game was played March 8, 2015. Eighty percent of the team is owned by the City Football Group, which also owns Manchester City of the English Premier League, while the New York Yankees own 20 percent.

MLS has grown drastically since its first season in 1996. Starting with only 10 teams, the league now has 23 teams with three more in Nashville, Tennessee, Miami and Cincinnati on the way.

Total attendance grew from 2.9 million to 7.3 million in the last 10 years with total gross viewership in 2016 of 32 million, according to the NYCFC website.

A Gallup poll published early this year found that among 18 to 34 year-olds, watching soccer matched basketball in popularity, and surpassed baseball.

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