Special Report

Sports Teams Running Out of Fans

Source: Keith Allison / Wikimedia Commons

17. Washington Redskins
> 10 yr. attendance change: -10.6%
> Sport: Football
> Avg. home game attendance: 78,304
> Avg. capacity filled: 85.4%

The Washington Redskins are one of two NFL franchises to report a more than 10% decline in attendance between 2006 and 2016. In 2006, coming off a relatively successful season culminating in a divisional game loss to the Seattle Seahawks, FedExField was regularly filled to capacity for home games. In contrast, the stadium was only filled, on average, to about 85% capacity last season. The relative lack of interest in the team this year was punctuated by the preseason release of once-promising quarterback and 2012 offensive rookie of the year award winner, Robert Griffin III. RGIII was at one point expected to be Washington’s savior.

Source: Crash Underride / Wikimedia Commons

16. Cleveland Browns
> 10 yr. attendance change: -11.1%
> Sport: Football
> Avg. home game attendance: 64,311
> Avg. capacity filled: 87.9%

Coming off the March dismissal of once promising Heisman-winning first-round quarterback pick Johnny Manziel, the Cleveland Browns had trouble filling seats in 2016. The anti-climatic end of Manziel’s disappointing tenure with the team may partially explain why home attendance is down over 11% from 2006. The Browns’ consistently poor record also helps explain generally poor attendance at FirstEnergy Stadium. Over the past 14 seasons, Cleveland has only finished better that dead last in their division twice and the team has only played one playoff game since 1995. FirstEnergy Stadium was only filled to about 88% of its total capacity on average last year.

15. Cincinnati Reds
> 10 yr. attendance change: -11.3%
> Sport: Baseball
> Avg. home game attendance: 23,383
> Avg. capacity filled: 55.3%

Home game attendance for the Cincinnati Reds is down 11.3% compared to 2006. Over the last 11 seasons, the team has had three disappointing playoff appearances. The Reds have had losing records in each of the last three seasons, finishing at the bottom of their division in both 2015 and 2016. Currently, the Reds have the worst record in their division and rank third to last in the National League.

14. Los Angeles Angels
> 10 yr. attendance change: -11.5%
> Sport: Baseball
> Avg. home game attendance: 37,236
> Avg. capacity filled: 82.7%

The second most populous city in the United States, Los Angeles is a major market for professional sports. The city, however, may not be big enough for its two MLB teams — the Angels and Dodgers — as attendance at Angels home games is suffering. Over the last decade, attendance at Angel Stadium has fallen by 11%, while average attendance at Dodger Stadium, much closer to the center of downtown Los Angeles, remains effectively unchanged. Currently, the LA Dodgers are at the top of their division, while the Angels, with a losing record, trail the Houston Astros, Seattle Mariners, and the Texas Rangers in the American League West.

Source: SD Dirk / Flickr

13. San Diego Padres
> 10 yr. attendance change: -11.6%
> Sport: Baseball
> Avg. home game attendance: 29,029
> Avg. capacity filled: 72.3%

Finishing first in their division, the San Diego Padres had two consecutive playoff appearances in 2005 and 2006. Over the 10 seasons since, they have not returned to the playoffs once. Average home game attendance at Petco Park fell by 11.6% between the Padres’ 2006 season and their most recent season, in which they finished last in their division. Currently, the San Francisco Giants, the Philadelphia Phillies and the Cincinatti Reds are the only teams in the National League with worse records than the Padres.

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