Special Report

Sports Teams Running Out of Fans

5. Chicago White Sox
> Sport:
> 10 year attendance decline: 24.1%
> Avg. home game attendance: 21,947
> Avg. capacity filled: 54.0%

The Chicago White Sox were less popular than their crosstown rivals, the Chicago Cubs, in 2005, and the still are to an even greater degree today. Few teams in professional sports had a larger decline in home game attendance over the past decade then the White Sox. In 2005, an average of 28,923 fans showed up per game. In the 2015 season, attendance was down to an average of 21,947 per home game. Meanwhile, the Cubs had roughly 10,000 more fans per game in 2005 and an average of nearly 15,000 more in 2015. As with most teams with rapidly shrinking fan bases, the White Sox’s poor overall record may explain the waning enthusiasm. Since their 2005 playoff appearance, the Sox only made it back to the playoffs once. Additionally, the team had a losing record in four of its last five seasons.

4. Cleveland Indians
> Sport:
> 10 year attendance decline: 28.4%
> Avg. home game attendance: 17,806
> Avg. capacity filled: 41.0%

More MLB teams are facing sharp declines in home game attendance than any other major professional sport. With the exception of the Philadelphia Phillies, no professional baseball team had a steeper drop in attendance than the Cleveland Indians. In the 10 seasons from 2005 to 2015, home game attendance declined by 28.4% for the Cleveland Indians. Over the same time period, the team made the playoffs only twice, and the Indians ended five seasons with more losses than wins. Though ticket sales tend to have a direct relationship with wins, attendance at Cleveland home games has gone down every year since 2011, including in 2013 when the Indians made it to the postseason.

3. Florida Panthers
> Sport:
> 10 year attendance decline: 29.3%
> Avg. home game attendance: 11,265
> Avg. capacity filled: 66.1%

The Florida Panthers play in the 17,040 capacity BB&T Center. Unfortunately, they have had increasing difficulty filling those seats in recent years. Home game attendance dropped to an average of 11,265 fans in the 2015 season, a 29.3% decrease since the 2003-2004 season when an average of 15,936 fans showed up to games. Notably, the team installed a curtain over upper level arena seats, reducing the capacity to 15,720. Poor performance on the ice may be driving down home game ticket sales as the team has only made it to the playoffs once since the 1999-2000 season. However, if a lack of wins explains waning hometown enthusiasm, fortunes may be changing for the Panthers. This season, as of mid-January, the Panthers lead the Atlantic division with 56 points.

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