Capacity versus Attendance versus Actual Attendees
A few days ago, I attended a game at Raymond James Stadium with several men
as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hosted the Atlanta Falcons and half the stadium was empty. Curious minds do a little research. The capacity of this facility is 65,618 spectators and the ESPN box score stated the attendance was 50,417. That made me wonder how the attendance could be listed as over 50,000 when it appeared the amount of fans in the seats was approximately 32,000.
It turns out that attendance for NFL games is tickets sold (also includes giveaway tickets). If that’s the case, how can an inquiring fan know how many actual fans came through the turnstiles?
I get it that the teams and NFL want to put the most positive spin on the popularity of fans actually attending games. With 4K technology and large TV screens, staying home and watching the game in one’s home or in a sports bar with friends has become more and more appealing.
Getting back to the games attendance, transparency is lacking. An NFL fan may look at this game and read even though Tampa Bay had a disappointing season, but there were only 15,000 fans from filling the place. Not a fact of reality. Should not the actual butts in the seats also be included in the game stats so you have 3 separate numbers to better digest the actual ticket demand and fan loyalty, using: capacity, attendance (tickets sold), and actual fans in the stands?
It’s important to also realize that the attendance includes season-tickets, those who obtain heavily discounted tickets, through group deals to youth and other local organizations. Attendance also includes tickets not sold but given away to sponsors, media outlets, employees, charities and players.
To get the attendance number, I found this information under the Gamecast on ESPN.com. Under this link (for both teams), I found passing yards, rushing yards, receiving yards, scoring plays and win probability. (A quick snark: There were so many stats that I'd not be surprised if they included instructions on how to install a kitchen sink.) It also listed the capacity and attendance figures. You could review and analyze the game for an hour if you so chose. However, no actual attendees included.
One more argument (besides being transparent) to include the actual number of attendees, a NFL fan could better gauge the loyalty of fans under different circumstances.
For example, for the game in TB on December 29th while the weather was perfect, you had nearly 20,000 ticket holders who didn’t show. If you knew these numbers, someone could ask why so many ticket holders stayed away? Was it their quarterback performance who threw 30 interceptions during the 2019 season? Perhaps it was the lack of wins for fickle fans who will only pack the place if they won the majority of their games? One should consider the Bucs only filled half the stadium that day but still had a chance to go .500 for the season. Having that information for all teams could help “dig deeper” to get a better idea of the loyalty of the different fan bases?
One more trivial matter, some NFL teams will have fans guess the attendance where they will put up 4 different numbers and fans will have a moment to look around at the attendees to help them guess the actual attendance. When fans do guess the actual attendance on the scoreboards, how many of them realize it's the number of tickets sold?
Speaking of Raymond James Stadium, the fan behavior was questionable at best. Over the years, I’ve heard the worst of profanity and insults inside and outside NFL stadiums but wonder if the Bucs really care. Oh yeah, there are signs stating the ability of fans to text a given number to report fan misbehavior but I don’t think that’s enough. The ushers don’t really do anything; they just keep the entrance clear and help guide some ticket holders to their seat. I don’t know why they don’t also walk the aisles from time to time in order to proactively call out certain fans that repeatedly spew profanity at certain players and referees. At one point of the game, at least half the crowd was yelling “Bullshit! Bullshit! Bullshit!” at a questionable call (which appeared to be called correctly). At the time, I just cringed seeing young boys hearing that language. Another example, an elderly man (in the 4th quarter) who appeared to be over served repeatedly yelled and spewed profanities at the Bucs' Matt Gay apparently for missing three field goals in the contest. Do the Bucs condone that sort of language? In the absence of security and ushers to proactively review this type of behavior, is the onus on fans to do so? In other words, should fans have to do the job for others who get paid to ensure fans enjoy a family friendly atmosphere? Or, are we way past that point at the Raymond James Stadium?
Why Not Thank The Fans For Their Support At The End Of The Season?
It was the last home game of the year for the Buccaneers. I saw the majority of players exit the field after the overtime loss not at all engaging with the fans. Jameis Winston threw an interception to Deion Jones who returned it for a Falcons touchdown and victory within 7 seconds of overtime. I understand the Bucs were disappointed and dejected but didn’t see many players thank the fans as they exited the field. A more supportive approach sometimes occurs in the English Premier League. Away teams will actually walk to their fans' section that made the trip and thank them for their support. It’s not exactly apples to apples as these clubs are the way team but support is support regardless of where you're playing. Showing some thanks to fans by coaches and players who stayed to the end during a losing season would have been a classy move. Perhaps this should be lead by the head coach and general manager.