The Rams’ move to Los Angeles last year, the Chargers’ move this year, and the Raiders’ planned move reflect the owners’ desire for a larger market in which to sell merchandise and fill seats. All three teams had attendance issues in the years leading up to their move. San Diego only filled 80% of seats at Qualcomm Stadium last year, the worst in the NFL. The year before, St. Louis filled 80% of seats in the Edward Jones Dome, which was the worst that year. The Los Angeles metropolitan area’s population of over 13 million is more than double the combined population of San Diego and St. Louis. Oakland had the lowest average home attendance of any team last year.
A number of factors affect team attendance, but first and foremost is likely the team’s success. While some fans will go to games no matter how well their team is doing, a winning team that seems on its way to making a deep playoff run is more likely to fill more seats than one that seems hopeless.
Indeed, the teams with the best attendance last year have been highly successful over the last few years. The four that had the best attendance records — Seattle, Green Bay, Indianapolis, and Dallas — each had among the 10 best combined records over the last five seasons. The teams with the worst attendance include the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Oakland Raiders, and Cleveland Browns, each of which has recently been among the worst teams in football.
To identify the least and most popular NFL teams, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed attendance data as recorded by ESPN. Teams were ranked based on average home attendance in 2016 as a percentage of stadium capacity. Average home attendance for 2016 is from ESPN. Average 2017 prices are for the secondary market only, and were provided by TicketIQ, an online aggregator of ticket listings and sales.