So Toronto city councillor Doug Ford once made headlines this week for ill-advised comments regarding the NFL. Speaking at a CFL event Monday, Ford claimed that the Jacksonville Jaguars “can barely crack 20,000 a game.”
That, of course, is ridiculous. The Jags have struggled to sell games out for some time, but they averaged 63,032 fans per game in 2010, which ranked ahead of eight other NFL teams. (In Ford’s defense, the numbers were considerably worse in 2009, when the Jags were blacked out in seven of their eight home games.)
In terms of occupied seats as a percentage of stadium capacity, the Jags (93.8%) actually finished ahead of their Florida neighbors from Miami (90.1%) and Tampa (75.1%). Even if you take into account the tarp that has permanently covered 9,000 seats in the upper deck, the stadium was still 82.9 percent full in 2010, which is better than in St. Louis, Tampa Bay and Oakland.
While researching those facts to dispute Ford’s ridiculous comments, I got sort of wrapped up in the attendance figures from 2010. A few tidbits that probably interest only me:
- No matter how you break it down, the Raiders had the worst attendance figures in football. They averaged 46,431 per home game, which fell almost 3,000 sold tickets short of the next-worst team, Tampa Bay. Oakland’s 73.7 occupied seats percentage was also dead last. Amazingly, though, those numbers were an improvement over 2009 (44,284 and 70.3%). The team is relatively good and young and in a football market — those numbers are unacceptable.
- Dallas is not only the biggest draw at home (87,047 and 108.8%), but the Cowboys are also the biggest road attraction in football. Stadiums they visited in 2010 averaged a league-high 72,699 fans (an occupancy percentage of 100.9). Of course, one road game in Chicago (Soldier Field holds just 61,500 people) or Oakland would severely hinder a team’s road attendance numbers through no fault of their own.
- The least enticing road team was apparently Seattle (59,192 and 88.0%), but trips to Arizona, St. Louis and Chicago probably did the Seahawks in.
- Total number of fans that attended Cowboys games (home and away) in 2010: 1,277,973. At the other end of the spectrum, the Rams were viewed by a league-low 911,195 spectators. Only five other teams — Oakland, Tampa Bay, Chicago, Detroit and Buffalo — fell short of the million mark.