MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The newest sports franchise in Memphis is dominating the local sports scene while basketball and football are in the off-season.
Memphis 901 FC is in its first season of USL Championship play, and the local fans are making headlines across the league.
The team plays at AutoZone Park, and the fans fill out the venue for every home match. The team’s average attendance through three home matches is 7,451.
“I knew this was a soccer town for years,” said Parks Russel, the vice president of Bluff City Mafia, the team’s fan club. “It is amazing that we can call this team our own, and we don’t have to wake up at 7 a.m. to watch a team located thousands of miles away.”
The 901 FC’s average attendance is the 7th best in the USL Championship, beating out fan bases from San Antonio, Phoenix, Fresno and Nashville.
The Memphis 901 FC project is not the first soccer franchise in Memphis, but it has been the most successful.
The Memphis Rogues played in the North American Soccer League for 1978-80 until the chairman, Avron Fogelman, lost his investment and dissolved the team.
The Memphis 901 FC can learn for the Rogues’ mistake and prosper moving forward.
The Rogues’ fan base never really had a team to support up until 1978, but the 901 FC fan base had Memphis City Football Club.
MCFC was founded in 2015 by some of the same ownership group that owns the 901 FC and began play at Christian Brothers High School.
The team played in the National Premier Soccer League, the fourth division of US Soccer.
A small group of devout fans developed over the team’s brief three-year history. The fans deemed themselves “The Rogue Squadron” to pay homage to the Memphis Rogues.
— Caleb Hilliard (@Cbreezy118) April 28, 2019
The same fans from four years ago continue the same tradition today, flocking together on Saturdays to chant in unison and light off flares and smoke bombs in support of their favorite team.
Now, the fan base has a different, more intimidating look, morphing from under 100 in 2015 to over 7,000 fans on average in 2019, giving professional football a hope for a bright future in the Bluff City.