Continuing my diatribe from last week, let’s look at another way to view attendance figures: Percent of capacity.
(As always, figures come from espn.com. Glad we cleared that up.)
Last season, out of 30 NBA teams, the percent of capacity scale broke down as follows:
90-100%: 17 teams
And this season?
That’s a pretty even distribution looking at it quickly, but if you delve deeper into the figures, the picture becomes bleaker.
Teams at 99%+ capacity
Also, as pointed out at Wages of Wins last year in a fine article about the NBA’s apparent popularity issues, the NBA has traded a city with poor attendance marks (Seattle) for one with strong attendance marks (Oklahoma City). However, despite WoW’s argument that Oklahoma City was 50% of the problem in last year’s attendance figures (i.e., the trade of OKC for N.O. and the lackluster figures in Seattle), the move of the Sonics to OKC has not alleviated the league’s problems at the gate. In fact, the numbers this year are even worse than last year.
But back to the main point of this story – the capacity scenario. Another way to look at the numbers is to compare each team to its’ figures from last year.
2008 vs 2009
Improved: 8 teams
No change: 3
In other words, more than twice as many teams are facing declining numbers when viewed as a percentage of capacity this season, a staggering figure. Four of those teams are seeing their attendance drop by more than 10 points from last year’s totals, Philadelphia (from 73 to 62), Sacramento (from 82 to 70), the Clippers (from 86 to 72), and the Heat (from 99 to 81).
How many teams have improved by more than 10 points over last season? Just one, Oklahoma City. (Although, to be fair, the Hornets are on the precipice, at +9.2 from last year).
In other words, the only NBA franchise to see a substantial improvement from last season was the franchise the league decimated in its previous locale. Not exactly a stirring endorsement of the league’s fortunes.