Home Features Home Team Heroes – How Well Are NFL Teams Doing in Attendance?

Home Team Heroes – How Well Are NFL Teams Doing in Attendance?

When a team that’s been on the negative end of the scoreboard goes on a winning streak, especially heading into the playoffs, many die-hard fans can become incredibly resentful toward those that have reignited their enthusiasm. Being called a bandwagon fan can be a serious allegation, and according to some fans, being a true supporter of the team means that you will continuously root for the franchise regardless of its performance. However, when it comes down to showing up at the stadium on Sunday, does a positive record mean that there will be more fans in attendance? When a team finds success, do the seats fill up again?

We’ve taken the liberty to find out more while comparing the attendance for teams that had made it to the playoffs against those that didn’t. Over 10 years of data have been studied as we attempt to gain an understanding of the squads that reel in healthy crowds despite having a poor performance. We’ve also looked at teams that see their fan support plummet after a series of losses. Take a look at our findings to learn more about the teams that enjoy the most consistent fans along with those that see their attendance drop after missing the postseason.

Ten Years of Attendance


The stats have revealed that playoff teams had an advantage when it comes to raw attendance totals and the rate of all seats that are occupied. However, there’s an exception to the trend as 2017 saw teams that made the postseason fill a lower rate of seats than those that had missed the playoffs. On the contrary, only the teams that had reached the playoffs have averaged 100% capacity or higher and have managed to do so on three different occasions over the last decade. 2009 saw the gap between the postseason teams and the rest of the pack being incredibly dramatic. A rate of 100.1% of their seating capacity had been recorded by the playoff teams, whereas a rate of 92.6% had been averaged by the other teams.

The average of the total attendance records had fluctuated over the last 10 years, this applies to the teams that made it to the playoffs and those that didn’t. Most of, if not all, the teams had a rough 2010, as playoff teams averaged 68,610 spectators per game and non-playoff teams averaged 65,959. However, 2016 saw both sets of teams generate high attendance figures but the high averages couldn’t be sustained as attendance fell in 2017 across the league. The fall in attendance was noticed as various images of empty seats on a Thursday night were shared by fans on social media.

Attendance According to Franchise


The stadium capacity rate is based on the number of seats that a stadium has. More attendees are allowed at the stadium when there are standing locations and box suites.

While they’re known as ‘America’s Team’, the Dallas Cowboys have no shortage of local support either. Over the last 10 years, the Cowboys have averaged 108.1% of their seating capacity and this is a figure that strengthens the claim that the Cowboys have made which stated that they have the best fanbase in the NFL. However, Dallas isn’t the only franchise that regularly surpasses their stated capacity as nine additional teams averaged a minimum of 100% of their seating figures from 2008 to 2017. These include Philadelphia, Indianapolis, and Green Bay.

While Los Angeles hasn’t had a football franchise for years, the fans might still be warming up to the idea of attending games on a Sunday. NFL executives might have been salivating at the prospects of having a team in the big city; however, the Rams have had a rough time trying to avoid having empty stands in the stadium. Another city that’s seen lower numbers over the last few years is Oakland, as the Raiders’ upcoming move to Las Vegas is on hold until a new stadium is built. The franchise owners can only hope that they will have more fans in Las Vegas.

Consistent Fans?


As expected, the AT&T Stadium is filled to the brim even if the Cowboys are struggling; however, when the Cowboys are winning, the stadium brings forth immense numbers. The team sees a 7.4% in spectators during the playoff seasons and it averages 113.5% of their total capacity. The second-largest playoff year jump goes to the Detroit Lions; however, their attendance couldn’t come close to what the Cowboys were experiencing. Even during seasons where they had made it to the postseason, they only managed to reach 96.9% of their overall capacity. This is a similar story regarding the Jaguars, despite seeing a boost when the team had some success, they only reached 95.6% of its capacity during playoffs.

However, some teams managed to generate the same numbers regardless of their performance, such as the Redskins, Packers, and the Saints. Then there were teams, specifically nine of them, that had attendance figures that didn’t make much sense as they filled a smaller percentage of the seats even when they were doing well. Fortunately, the playoff year drops were usually minimal, the only exception being the Rams. Once the excitement of the first season in Los Angeles died down, the fanbase retracted despite having a great season in 2017.

Supporting the Home Team

The data that we’ve gathered suggests that there are teams that see an increase in ticket sales when they’re winning, whereas there are others that see a packed stadium regardless of their performance. However, the majority of seats are filled on a Sunday, despite the fickle support from the fanbase. While everyone would love to see the home team win, it seems like the appeal of watching an NFL game doesn’t exactly depend on the outcome. The feeling of sitting in the stands and watching with uncertainty is something that can’t be replicated. If you have the opportunity to attend a game, you won’t regret it. It doesn’t matter if your team performed badly this year, the chances of you being called a bandwagon fan are incredibly low.

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How We Did It

The data used in this segment was sourced from ESPN.com which is capable of collecting data regarding available attendance records for each game that was played throughout the season. This project used attendance records for each franchise from 2008 to 2017. We added up data for all available seasons for teams that have been around for fewer than 10 years.

No statistical testing has been done, hence the claims in this segment are based on averages alone. This means that the content should be used for exploratory purposes and more rigorous research should be done before approaching this topic.

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