Attendance Through the Years

Published: November 19, 2010

Since there has been a good deal of attendance discussion lately, I’ve been tinkering with pulling together a post.  The article I posted earlier today beat us up pretty good, so I wanted to give a little bit of information in this journal.  

Looking at the data below, I don’t see how our economy, disasters and all, is a factor in the attendance.

  • Our attendance is up since before the storm.  
  • We basically filled the Arena following the 2008 playoffs, which never happened before the storm.
  • There was a major push to pre-sell tickets to land the team and many of the seats were sold in multi-year deals.  This article briefly describes these facts.  Thus, the tickets sale numbers before Katrina do not necessarily follow the typical drivers.  After the storm they follow the prior season’s wins strongly, which is expected.    

Some want to make the argument that New Orleans can not support both the Saints and the Hornets.  

  • Before Katrina, the Saints were not selling out the Dome on a season ticket basis, but they sold out many games.  Not all suites were sold, however.  
  • Since the storm, every seat and every suite has been sold, playoffs included and that is after suites were added.  

Despite this, and the hits on the economy and population, the allegiance to the sports teams as reflected by ticket sales has increased.  

So far this season, the attendance is surpassing that of the last 2 years before Katrina, both of which were preceded by seasons with playoff appearances.  Comparing apples to apples, low-point to low-point in this case, it seems to me that the Hornets are making headway in a community that is perfectly capable of meeting the attendance standards of an NBA team, if they are not already.  

Due to the size of the Arena, the Hornets attendance will never be top 10 in the league, and unless many teams are having horrible attendance by their standards, the Hornets will never crack the top 15 in attendance.  This was known and approved by NBA owners when they moved here twice, so I’m assuming that will be satisfactory for at least another decade.  None of the teams averaging over 16,000 are being mentions in the contraction conversation, for instance.  

Supporting Data:

Season: 2002-2003 (First in New Orleans)
Average Attendance: 15,650
NBA Rank: 19
Percent of Capacity: 91.0
Prior Season Wins: 44
Prior Season Playoffs: Lost Second Round
Season Wins: 47
Season Playoffs: Lost First Round

Season: 2003-2004
Average Attendance:14,332
NBA Rank: 28
Percent of Capacity: 83.3
Prior Season Wins: 47
Prior Season Playoffs: Lost First Round
Season Wins: 41
Season Playoffs: Lost First Round

Season: 2004-2005
Average Attendance: 14,221
NBA Rank: 30
Percent of Capacity: 82.7
Prior Season Wins: 41
Prior Season Playoffs: Lost First Round
Season Wins: 18
Season Playoffs: No

Season: 2007-2008 (First after Katrina)
Average Attendance: 14,181
NBA Rank: 26
Percent of Capacity: 82.4
Prior Season Wins: 39
Prior Season Playoffs: No
Season Wins: 56
Season Playoffs: Lost in Second Round

Season: 2008-2009
Average Attendance: 16,968
NBA Rank: 19
Percent of Capacity: 98.7
Prior Season Wins: 56
Prior Season Playoffs: Lost in Second Round
Season Wins: 49
Season Playoffs: Lost in First Round

Season: 2009-2010
Average Attendance: 15,130
NBA Rank: 23
Percent of Capacity: 88.5
Prior Season Wins: 49
Prior Season Playoffs: Lost in First Round
Season Wins: 37
Season Playoffs: No

Season: 2010-2011
Average Attendance: 14,467 (7 games, estimated)
NBA Rank: 23 or 24 (estimated)
Percent of Capacity: 84.7 (estimated)
Prior Season Wins: 37
Prior Season Playoffs: No
Season Wins: 9
Season Playoffs: N/A

This post was submitted by 420ftJesus.


  1. TopherPrice

    November 20, 2010 at 12:19 am

    Good job. Way to use numbers and facts to back up your opinions on viability of a team in NOLA. You realize your logic and reason does nothing but make it harder to speculate about how cool it would be to poach the talent from Memphis and New Orleans? That is definitely not part of the “cool kids” media talking points. You will never get anywhere in this sportswriting business with that kind of attention to details.

  2. corndeaux

    November 20, 2010 at 8:12 am

    Good post, 42. I wonder how the Hornets compare with the rest of the league in terms of percent of capacity.

  3. usufruct

    November 21, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    I think our attendance would have to get much worse for the team to move or be eliminated altogether. The odds of this decrease drastically if/when the sale to Chouest goes through. Also, once people realize we’re good, they’ll start to show up. Just like in 07-08. People didn’t show up until after the all-star break. We had led the West pretty much all year and were having an excellent season, but people were just unaware. That year, if I recall correctly, listed attendances were in the 8-9k range, and we all know that “attendance” in the NBA includes player tickets and other giveaways. So actual butts in the seats were much lower than that. So it could be worse. Anyway, people will show up. It’ll just take a while. The team just has to keep winning.

    I noticed the stands in Sacramento looked like ours have most of this season. About 65-70% full. So it’s not just us. Our problem is that our attendance is weak even though we’re one of the best teams in the NBA. Like I said, though, they’ll show up as long as we keep winning.

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