Attendance Claws

By:
Published: January 21, 2012
Attendance Champs

A look at the how the attendance is stacking up against the benchmarks this time around, how it stacks up compared to other teams, and a brief look at the `football effect’.

Attendance Champs

Attendance Front and Center from Day One

It’s January in New Orleans, and amid the rumblings of ownership change, post-traumatic stress disorder is rearing its ugly mug. People are hearing noises . . . what is that?! When they should be watching the game on tv, why are they looking in the stands?! Something wicked this way comes . . . or does it?

Background and Ranting

 

(If you just what to know about the next 4 games, skip ahead to the next section. You’ll miss the rant, though. Enjoy.)

The Charlotte Hornets left the eponymous land of their birth in 2002, arriving at their new home as the New Orleans Hornets after signing a 10 year arena lease. Like many before them, they were cast out of their land and found a home in New Orleans. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, a series of decisions was made resulting in the Hornets returning to Louisiana sparingly for 2 seasons before making a return, one full season after the return of the Saints.

Shortly after this return, the original lease was amended in some important ways. One alteration was the addition of two years to the lease, moving the expiration from following the 2012 season (this one) to following the 2014 season. The Hornets also relived Louisiana of its obligation to furnish them with a new practice faciltiy, agreeing to continue using Jefferson Parish’s Alario Center for this purpose.

Sounds good for the Hornets fans so far, eh?

There was a price.

A number of clauses were inserted that are tied to financial numbers. For example, if certain revenue falls below some other certain level, Louisiana gives the Hornets some money according to some method of determination.

Of all these “benchmarks,” the attendance benchmarks have caused the most trouble for the fans’ psyches.

We should note here what attendance is in this context, as it’s an unfortunate term. Attendance is the sum of

1) Number of tickets sold, whether used or not
2) Number of complimentary tickets that were actually used

The number does not, therefore, definitively connect with the number of humans in the Arena. It should also be noted that different numbers appear in different places. This often has to do with time of reporting, as a number is given at halftime and a number is given at the end of the game. The number in the box score is often the former, while a number in an article the next day could be either. A few people end up arriving after half time with tickets given away or purchase them before the window closes. This is a very minor effect.

This is a standard definition around the NBA and is not particular to this franchise or this lease.

Before proceeding, let’s examine the attendance history of the team in New Orleans: average attendance per home game by year. Of course, the current season is incomplete and will change as the season progresses. The number presented is the average attendance to date.

Year20032004200520082009201020112012
Attendance15,65014,33214,22114,18116,96815,13014,70914,209

Attendance

Prior to Katrina, New Orleans was a small and shrinking city with a growing suburban populace, who, on average, were wealthier than their city-dwelling brethren. Following Katrina, this process not only sped up, but a temporary shift in population had the city’s population at around 2/3 of pre-Katrina levels.

By the time the Hornets returned in 2007, it was clear that worst would not come to pass in New Orleans and that New Orleans would survive as a smaller city, but it wasn’t clear how the population and money would be distributed, how long the work would take, and if the city could or would support the Hornets after the Saints were being supported at literally unprecedented levels. Specifically, the Saints were sold out on a season ticket basis for the first time in the organization’s history, all with the smaller population. While this sounds good from a civic pride perspective, it wasn’t clear how much money and support would be left for the Hornets.

Thus, the Hornets asked for and received the option to pay a small fee to be able to terminate the lease if attendance numbers fell below a certain number. This clause had a special form at its inception, but the part that matters is as follows:

A two-year average, from February 1, to January 31, falling below 14,735 allows the franchise to terminate the lease for the small fee if notice is given by March 1 of that year.

Let’s study this for a bit. 14,735 is a funny number. Why that number of all the available ones? You gotta figure there’s a least 100 numbers, right? And they picked that one?!?!

During the Hornets time in New Orleans, they had average attendances of 15,650, 14,332, and 14,221 in the seasons ending in 2003, 2004, and 2005 respectively. This leads to an average attendance of 14,735, a mark exceeded only once in their time here. The season they exceed this followed the drive to get the team here, something else that was dependent on . . . anyone got a guess . . . anyone . . . attendance. And not just attendance, no; they were saying that too many cheap seats were being sold and began pushing lower bowl seats. This benchmark, however, was just on attendance.

The above may seem reasonable, but it is not. It is not `fair’ in the slightest. To start with, this would require an increase in attendance after Katrina compared to that before, since the pre-Katrina attendance failed to meet the criteria of the new lease, all with a smaller city committing money to rebuilding and to their neighbors in the big house on the block: The Saints.

Also, two-year averages are more volatile than the three-year average the benchmark is based on. This is a technical point, to be sure, but it’s evident in the numbers: A three year average of the pre-Katrina attendance by definition meets the benchmark, but the two year average (the last two years) does not.

So, to have this clause not be activated, the remaining residents would have to exceed their output from before the storm and compete with their very own push to get the team here to begin with. Their good behavior was then used as a tool to punish. Had the good behavior been better, then pain of punishment would have increased accordingly.

One can say that there are minimum standards needed to operate a team and not every market is suitable for an NBA team and an NFL team. That’s true. This particular form of measuring that . . . putting the onus on the fans themselves . . . that is unconscionable.

Ultimately, every cent a sports franchise gets is from the people, and that is true of any enterprise, so no harm there. It’s the pointing, it’s the calling out, it’s condemnation of all that has been given, it’s the “How DARE you!?!?!” implication with the puffed-up-upper-class-twittery and let-them-eat-cakery that makes one ponder jumping out of a window high enough to blow your brains out before you hit the concrete below just to escape ever-so-slightly more quickly a world that could produce such anti-moral, predatory, dismissive entitlement combined with buffoonery, myopia and distorted perspective with regard to finances and your own figurative and literal balls to make people come to you and bow because your revenue benchmark . . . the people’s money, mind you . . . just isn’t enough to satisfy a poor and insecure businessman.

Being great, offering something great, and trusting people to love that greatness just wasn’t in the cards. It had to be dictated. There had to be a very well-defined ball that could be take to some ill-defined home in case things didn’t go juuuust so.

Nah. It wasn’t about the money. It was about the foreheads to the ground . . . bend over and don’t look at what I’m doing . . .

Yeah, that’s right. Remember the revenue benchmark? They could get the money if they wanted it. This franchise was obsessed with attendance from jump street, beating the attendance drum inside their disproportionately large arena that the fine people of the Queen City filled for years as loyally as they fill their speedway’s grandstands, then left in a steady flow after the attitude mentioned above displayed itself there.

Nevertheless, we did it. Yeah, we. It was we agreeing because it was a deal with the state, and it was we complying . . . bowing . . . about 1.75 million man*hours of it that first season back.

People needed to be sanding and painting, but instead they were watching basketball . . . admittedly great and special basketball as it turns out . . . but that wasn’t good enough. The `magnanimous’ return needed to be shown the proper respect, even if by force, though many would have chosen to be there of their own accord, and maybe more would have been if the offer to return was genuine along with faith in New Orleans . . . the New New Orleans and the Old New Orleans, side-by-side in the temporal play is our fair second line of a city. The city that celebrates potato sandwiches given to the poor boys who were on strike from the streetcar company, the city that just keeps bringing back Morgus the Magnificent, the city that’s a little prettier because of her scars will embrace anyone that embraces her with more than equal fervor.

Just let her.

But, no.

It had to be this way, right? It had to be forced, right?. It just had to, right? Well, look at how that worked out.

Wrong. Bad call.

We’ve been here for just about 300 years. 3 of them had the Hornets. 1%. And, yeah, we. Not me. We. Anyone who hugged a stranger at a gas station somewhere in America, laughing and crying, in September 2005 just because you saw their license plates know what I’m talking about.

The above should highlight, however, just how well the fans have performed. It should also explain why fans are so angry about them and why it is such a touchy subject.

Hornets fans have performed admirably and should be very proud of themselves.

The good news is that the upcoming lease, likely a 10 year extension running through the season ending in 2024, will be free of such monstrosities.

Before moving on to the analysis of the current period, it should be pointed out that the benchmarks, for all the taint on them, may have actually saved this team, or at least it’s residence in New Orleans. If this team were ownerless going in to this season, can you imagine how sickening the rhetoric would be at this very moment? What if the CBA was not signed, and we wouldn’t have a season to even prove ourselves while the lease expired leaving with less than zero leverage? Also, while the net effect of the benchmarks on the attendance will never be known, we surpassed them when we needed to and have succeeded in attracting more than one potential owner. Who knows if they helped or hurt, but we have proven ourselves when the lights were bright, which is more than any other fan base has done.

Current Period

 

The current period runs from February 1, 2010 to January 1, 2012. Here is the relevant attendance data. These calculations and those below are all subject to rounding, and this error may propagate. Best to take these numbers as pretty good, but not laser accurate.

Year201020112012
Number of Games20418
Average Attendance15,14014,70814,209

This means we have to average 14,029 per game over our next 4 games. If you prefer to think of it in terms of total attendance, we need to achieve an attendance 56,114 through the next 4 games.

Here is how we’ve performed this season:

SundayMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturday
December 25, 2011Boston
17,802
Phoenix
15,790
January 01, 2012Philadelphia
12,387
Denver
13,035
January 08, 2012Oklahoma City
13,565
Minnesota
14,295
January 15, 2012Portland
14,758
Memphis
12,045
January Average
13,347

And here are the 4 home games we have left to play in the period:

Dallas MavericksSaturday, January 21, 7:00
San Antonio SpursMonday, January 23, 7:00
Orlando MagicFriday, January 27, 7:00
Atlanta HawksSunday, January 29, 6:00

Our target attendance is less than our season average to this point, which is a good sign.

Let’s look at threats to this performance level. One is that our Boston attendance level was the highest of the season and is inimitable due to Boston `being Boston’. Another will be that the Phoenix attendance level may have been inflated due to the holiday season and the back-to-back wins to start the season. Lastly, the Hornets’ overall and recent record isn’t exactly going to attract people in on their own merits. Case in point: our lowest attendance of the season thus far was our most recent game, drawing 12,045 against Memphis Wednesday.

We do have several things in our favor, however. Jumping right out is the mix of teams: Dallas, Spurs, Magic, Hawks. Three of them are in the upper end of the `recognition factor’ of the NBA. Secondly, and perhaps just as important as who the opponents are, is the mix of days for these games. We have three weekend games, counting Friday night as the start of the weekend. Ignoring the Boston and Phoenix games, Friday games have drawn 1,000 more in average attendance than the Wednesday games. Reinforcing this, the Monday Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday game against Portland drew as much as the Friday game against Minnesota.

The biggest draw of the games of interest is the Friday Orlando game, so let’s key off of it. Here’s how the target is affected by attendance at that game:

Orlando AttendanceDallas, San Antonio, Atlanta Average Needed
14,00014,038
15,00013,705
16,00013,372
17,00013,038

So, if this game approaches a sellout, which it can, the other games need don’t even need to reach our January average to this point, 13,347, and with a pretty strong showing, we only need to beat that performance level by 25 tickets per game.

Sadly, we won’t know how this game will affect attendance until after 3 of the games are played (that one, too). This analysis nevertheless gives us some indication of what should and should not worry us for the rest of the month.

Personally, I’ve not been worried, but I committed this analysis to text so others could share.

What do you see? Am I missing something?

This is far from a done deal, but I think it’s very likely that the franchise will not have a decision to make about opting out of the lease by March 1, 2012. Even if they did have the option, they’d have to want to, and all indications are they are trying to stay, not leave. Anything can happen until the ink is dry on the new, benchmark-free lease, the lease we earned by beating expectations and the odds, nut then we can enjoy ourselves and the game we’ve been giving ourselves to for years.

Let’s start getting used to that enjoying stuff.

Lagniappe

 

The Football Effect Theory

While performing this analysis, I could not help but notice something. I wanted good fidelity here, so I grabbed the attendance for the 20 games starting February 1, 2010 and averaged them myself rather than just using the season-long average which is easier to get.

The season-long average was 15,130 while the last 20 games averaged 15,140. This means that the first 21 games averaged about 15,120 (easy to eyeball since the game total is about equal).

Big whoop, right? It’s an average, dude. Aren’t you like, good a math? Don’t you know what average means?

YeahIknowwhataveragemeans!

There is this theory out there that interest in football affects Hornets attendance early on, leading to increasing attendance as the season progresses.

In this particular year where I had to dig into the data, it turns out the Saints won the Super Bowl. I know this because I was in section 417 watching (yeah, had to peacock). Anyway, I content that interest in football was at an all time high in the great city of New Orleans during the early part of this particular season. So where is the football effect? Maybe the city was sooo interested that they just never increased the attendance?

As the only piece of analysis out there on the ‘football effect’, I call this theory unsupported at this point. I’ll be happy to do an analysis on other seasons if someone will help me gather the data. The ball is in your court, `football effect’ adherents.

Attendance Strata

Based on the analysis of the 2009-2010 season attendance mentioned in the `football effect’ section, I see another thing I’d like to challenge.

Attendance to NBA games is grouped into some natural groups: Season tickets, season ticket equivalents, group tickets, walk-ups, and complimentary tickets.

The season ticket category needs no explanation. The Hornets have sold about 10,500 of these for the current season.

Season ticket equivalents consist of the partial plans available, such as half-season plans, weekend plans, etc. These do not count as season tickets, but several of them together do. They are counted as such since those customers behave more like season ticket holders than other attendees.

Group tickets are not for regular attendees, but rather are for groups, as the name implies, that are having an outing. An example would be Tulane night or other them nights. Small groups count in this, such as a church group.

Walk-up tickets are just folks who decide to go to a game for whatever reason. These don’t have to be purchased at the window to fit into this category.

Complimentary tickets are tickets given to charity, distributed for business purposes, given to season ticket holders as treats (Ask your rep! Really . . . “My girlfriend’s parents are coming to town, Gena, can you hook me up?” She just may say “yes.” I’d say it’s likely if you don’t go to the well that often.) These are also for media, etc.

Last season, the Hornets season ticket base was about 6,300. It’s now 4,000 larger, near 10,500 . . .

round of applause for the reps and the fans . . .

but our average attendance this season is down by about 500 attendees, or about 3.5%. The NBA overall is seeing a drop of about 2.5%, so we are outpacing this average. The numbers to this point can be misleading since the number of `superstar’ and `classic’ team visits is skewed and not yet as evenly distributed as it will be, as well. Using what is available regardless, several teams are seeing big increases in attendance, lead by, in order, the Timberwolves, Clippers, Kings, and Pacers. The biggest drops are being seen by, in order, the Pistons, Cavaliers, Rockets Suns, and Bucks. These are the teams seeing at least a 10% drop, over 20% for the Cavaliers, and almost 30% for the Pistons.

A common factor here is the net flux of talent, if you account for the lag in not-renewing your season tickets.

So what can we glean from this?

At least some of our attendance drop is due to the 2.5% drop in attendance overall. Let’s call this the lockout effect, since by all accounts the high ratings last year should lead to higher, not lower ticket sales this year.

On top of that, we are likely seeing part of the drop due to expect departure of Chris Paul and David West, but that other shoe will be dropping on that front, and it may be of a larger size.

Lastly, the season ticket drive seems to have mitigated the combination of the effects above to some extent, but it also wouldn’t adding 4,000 to the average attendance number. Some season tickets were either increases in purchases by existing season ticket holders or brand new customers, but it seems that a fair chunk of the increase came from the season ticket equivalent pool and a likely `frequent subset’ of the walk-ups.

This isn’t bad. It just means that interest in the team didn’t spread out so much as a combination of spread and deepen.

While some NBA teams sell every ticket for every game (the Celtics and Lakers have no change, literally 0, in attendance from last year), most NBA teams target a mix that likely `feels’ like: 10,000 STH, 2,500 STE, 1,000 comps, and the balance in groups and walk-ups, with the mix dependent on the game . . . more walk-ups for the Lakers, more groups for the Bobcats.

This kind of breakdown can explain both the 10,000 `goal’ and the lack of a large surge in attendance. In this, the big variable may be the group tickets. Groups need time to plan outings, which they have in a normal season. We may see an uptick in attendance as group sales begin to take off, just like many other teams in the rest of the NBA. We may not, of course. It’s just a theory, if a reasonable one.

I may follow-up on this, but hopefully no one will care about attendance in just a few more weeks.

21 comments
Chuck
Chuck

Random anal criticism: "The Hornets also relived Louisiana of its obligation to furnish them with a new practice faciltiy, agreeing to continue using Jefferson Parish’s Alario Center for this purpose." Please watch out for typos and misspellings. I get distracted when I read something with obvious typos and I know there are other people who do too. It's kind of hard to take something seriously when there are easily avoidable errors.

J
J

With a new owner in place soon with deep pockets is able to get some top free agents i've a feeling that season tickets will rise much more as well as attendance.

Bee dat
Bee dat

cant ever address this topic eithout showing some love to mr chris paul, the saviour of nola bball. there appeared to be a zero chance of drawing enough fans in 08 to retain the team before the team took off and hornets fever caught the city for the first time. thank you sir along with mr west, peja ,chandler pargo et al for allowing us to have this discussion today

Bee dat
Bee dat

wow, i asked and recieved in a big way, thanks for the article jason. if you could just forward this info to the three ....musketeers smith, reid, and deshazier, they might have something informative to the public to include in their article for once. ( was that an ellipse?) conflicting factors in play next year. i personally see a very big, like in the thousands, dip coming from the two for ones in the balcony if that deal is not reupped (10000 sounds nice but theres a little bookcookin goin on). if we remain horrible interest will certainly slide but possibly recieve a huge bump if we get a real exciting rookie(s). i think the data is pretty telling, our baseline is slightly above 14 with a possibility of a surge if the team has success/ excitement. are those numbers high enough? if we believe stern then yes but think the sample size is large enough now to not be able to dress them up too much ( though they did a nice job of that this offseason )

nolahog
nolahog

Actually, I've been reassured by the crowds. Usually, this early in the season against teams like Philadelphia and Memphis. . . the place would have been empty. I remember multiple sub-12,000 games last year early on. The numbers will pick up with the more high profile teams. Considering how terrible we must appear to the average fan, I think we're doing pretty good. If the team can just throw everybody a bone and get a few wins, then the numbers will be solid through the remainder of the season.

david
david

Actually, due to the lockout, fans have the money from the cancelled games - 8 games worth- sitting in their accounts with interest, making it far more likely they will renew some kind of ticker package or lose their cash.

usufruct
usufruct

I'm really concerned about attendance next year. If our record doesn't improve, I think season ticket numbers will fall way down, I'm guessing they'll fall at least 50%. It's already bad that our attendance is down from last year, even though season tickets are up almost 65%. That probably means a lot of people who bought tickets aren't even showing up. I strongly doubt those folks will renew. But if we can survive a year or two of suckage, draft well, and field a contender, people will come out. As you point out, saints sellouts have only been happening for a few years. No one went to saints games until they got good. Same thing will happen with the Hornets... as long as we're good.

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

I'm sorry. Would you prefer me to add the e to relived to make relieved in the post? To be clear, relived is a word so the spell check doesn't pick it up . . . so it's not as easily avoidable as others, like comma splices in compound sentences and other place. Also, since we are being anal, this doesn't seem random. It seems very specific and predictable. "1.Made, done, happening, or chosen without method or conscious decision: "a random sample of 100 households"." Yes, I read this comment and took it seriously. I ask that you do the same despite the missing e.

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

They read. Trust me. They have reacted to us in the past . . . the video things they do are an attempt to leapfrog Pete and Repeat's podcast, I believe. And no problem. It was supposed to be a tabular version of my original response to you, then I got a mocha with an extra shot, yadayadayada, I'm ranting about the benchmarks and football. Blame Rue on Oak.

Bee dat
Bee dat

i just wish those old and especially new fans weren't being treated to nearly unwatchable ball. i hope we make some of these upcoming games more exciting(are you listening mr gordon?)

ImSorryMonty
ImSorryMonty

Not only this but any "sold back" games this year have to be used for Hornets related packages next year.

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

Fans who chose the `gold option' will have that, but I'm not sure how many chose the direct refund option. A positive account balance is a very good predictor of renewal, and you are dead on about that.

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

"I think season ticket numbers will fall way down, I’m guessing they’ll fall at least 50%. It’s already bad that our attendance is down from last year, even though season tickets are up almost 65%. That probably means a lot of people who bought tickets aren’t even showing up. I strongly doubt those folks will renew." No. No. No. No. 3,300 words discussing this . . . What "attendance" is in terms of the benchmarks and what is reported has little to do with tickets being scanned in, etc. The definition is in the article and comes straight from execs, one of whom is an economist. I trust the definition, told me with him tapping each of two fingers of his left hand with the index finger of his right. Agreed on goodness of play being important. The sale could we a wildcard in this, though. It's possible people get riled up, yeah? Or . . . reallymredfacedmad. I expect a 25% drop at least in season tickets and 10% - 20% drop in attendance based on what we see other teams losing AND assuming we are feeling that pinch a little already.

Bee dat
Bee dat

my understanding was that balcony special was for anything row 5 & up and my assumption was that it accounted for a much larger piece of the bumpmto 10000. hope im wrong. as for the benchmark hopefully that nice crowd tonight coupled withorlando makes it moot

usufruct
usufruct

Bee Dat, My prediction is dire because I'm comparing this year and next to 08, 09, and 10. Performance went up (07-08), attendance went up (08-09). Performance went down (08-09), attendance went down (09-10). And for those years, attendance generally tracks the season tickets sold. In 07-08, I can't find how many season tickets we sold, but I know it wasn't many. I want to say 3-6k. We had a great year, although no one--I mean no one--came out to watch the team until after the Allstar break. The next season, people were pumped, and folks bought 10,400 season tickets. You see the corresponding spike in the attendance graph. We had a mediocre year in 08-09, and people abandoned ship. I can't find a specific number of season tickets sold that season, but I recall the number fell to around 6000 or so. Thus, we experienced a 40% drop in season tickets in one season. That drop had a direct correlation to the drop in performance. My prediction is worse for next season because we've suffered a much larger drop in performance this season than we did from 09 to 10. I mean, we could wind up last in the league. I doubt it, but it's possible. Based on the drop from 09 to 10, I predict season ticket sales will fall severely. Circumstances are different this season, so looking at past events to predict the future might be a huge waste of time. I guess the biggest thing that bothers me is that we sold over 10k tickets this season, just like we did in 09, and attendance is way lower this year than in 09. I can't account for that discrepancy. That is, unless every season ticket holder is showing up, and we're getting very few walk ups. We'd need more specific numbers to know that though. http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Journal/Issues/2011/09/05/Franchises/Hornets.aspx

Bee dat
Bee dat

id say look at the graph again for a direct comparison. after a surge in 03 due to team performance and civic pride, the team bottomed out on 04 prior to the arrival of cp. the year(s) that follow show a leveling out with a slight decrease. we may do worse especially with the two for one factor, but with such a close precedent i dont see how you can make such a dire prediction

usufruct
usufruct

I know what "attendance" means to the NBA. I've written at length about it on this site. You don't remember my posts about the "drop count"? You should. You responded at length. Anyway, my post has very little to do with the definition of attendance. I had two different points. My first echoes your post: that attendance--by any definition--is down since last season, even though season ticket sales are way up. (My assertion that attendance is down from last season was taken from your post.) My second point is that I predict season ticket sales will fall 50% if this team doesn't show promise. Why do I say this? Because I know plenty of people who bought season tix this year for the first time: to support the city, the team, civic pride, whatever. They're surprised how difficult it is to go to all the home games and disgusted with the team's performance. And there's so little demand, you can't hardly give away the tickets. In short, they're not happy with their investment, and I don't see them buying in again for a longer season after we've just stunk it up. Although, that is a good point that some people will have house money to burn next season. That could help. I also think season tix will drop drastically because they have in the past. Season tix soared the year after we almost went to the WC finals. After that, they dropped significantly. If that pattern holds, tix will take a huge dip. Nolahog, I agree that crowds have been reassuring this year. These are just my thoughts about next year.

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

I'll confirm. I do think I was told it was a narrow band, but that was months ago.

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

I put this in another comment over here, but I do think the new season ticket sales came from existing folks alreay buying many tickets, lessening the effect . . . if everyone who bought a `new' season ticket had a half season plan before, then the 4000 new tickets translate into 2000 in attendance per game because of the corresponding subtraction of the half season package off the total. I think it's group and gate numbers. You guys are interested, so I'll dig. Also, if you like, I'll be happy to drop you an email if you'd like to dialog abou this more significantly offline. I'm more than happy to take your specific questions, concerns, fear, expectations, and see what I can get that addresses them. I think your reasoning is good, but I also see what sort of hits other markets are seeing and it's actually moderating my fears. Also, I think our season tickets dropped by about 2000 per year . . . low in the 2007-2008 season, then up to near 10,500 for 10,500 based on the success of that prior season, then like 8,500, then the 6,300 we heard about last year. The 2-for-1 (balcony busters, I think account for about 4 rows or so all around the balcony . . . 4 rows, 20 seats, 32 section, but only half of them are free, so 1,280. Now, not everyone is going to renew all those and not everyone is going to not renew all. Also, some folks will downgrade into those newly available seats, so some losses will be filled in by downgraders, especially those with lower-bowl-based credits . . . it's like a free seat. Plus, we may see from promotions like that going forward. Tons of questions. Loving the conversation even after writing all that crap in case you can't tell.

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

I was likely being hypertechnical after being steeped in this garbage for hours, and for that I apologize. I said in the piece that the word choice is unfortunate. I think maybe what we are both saying is that overall attendance is down though season ticket sales are up because the walk-up and group numbers are WAY down. How else could it be that way? That reflects current interest is down, while season ticket sales reflects interest was up at some earlier time, but not necessarily for hoop reasons . . . civic pride is a big one. I agree that the numbers through the gate are often very different from the financial number. Most fans care about the butts in seats, not the book value etc. I also agree that the numbers will drop a good bit next season, but I'm suspect less of a drop than you. Time will tell. I think both of us hope we're both wrong.

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  1. [...] Friday, We addressed a number of issues related to attendance, including a history of why it is more important to the New Orleans Hornets than any other team and [...]

  2. [...] benchmarks . . . NEVER ONCE were not met. NOT ONCE. This, of course was not widely reported. Why would our success rate words just because our tragedies do? Why would a fan base measuring up, [...]