The NFL has released its ticket sales numbers for the 2009-2010 season, and while some teams won big this year, a number of other teams seem to be losing their footing and negatively affecting NFL sales as a whole.
Leading the league in ticket sales this season were the Dallas Cowboys, which moved into the new, higher capacity Dallas Cowboys Stadium for 2009. The Cowboys had regular season total sales of 718,055, averaging 89,757 seats sold per game. These numbers translated to an average audience attendance at 112.2 percent of capacity (due to standing room tickets), a 41.6 percent gain over last season. The Washington Redskins also performed well this season, totaling 678,352 and averaging 84,794 per game, filling 92.5 percent of capacity on average. Coming in at number three were the New York Giants, at 629,615 and averaging 78,702 each game with a typical audience of 98.1 percent capacity.
Super Bowl XLIV contenders the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints had impressive crowd stats at 105.6 percent and 103.1 percent of capacity, respectively, but their average audiences (Colts at 66,550 and Saints at 70,105) looked relatively weaker because their stadiums are smaller than the new Cowboys Stadium and the Redskins’s FedEx Field, which is the largest of any NFL stadium.
A total of fourteen teams hit a high of eight games with a 98 percent plus capacity audience. Teams on this list tended to be revered teams that sell out year after year and/or those located in larger metropolitan areas that easily draw in capacity crowds, such as the Minnesota Vikings, the New England Patriots, the New York Giants and the Indianapolis Colts. The Denver Broncos, which hit an average of 98.7 percent of capacity this season, sold out all home games for their 40th straight year.
Of those teams that didn’t make this elite list, a number found only frustration in getting fans into seats this year.
For example, the Jacksonville Jaguars totaled 397,214 seats sold this season, with an average of only 49,652 per game. Audiences hovered around at 73.9 percent, resulting in a 23.8 percent loss in sales year over year, the biggest loss for any team this season. Sold out games for the Jags were very hard to come by, leaving the team with seven locally blacked out home games. In fact, the Jags first six home games pulled in less than 50,000 attendees. The comparatively small market of the Jaguars traditionally has been blamed for failed sell outs in the past, but the team’s dismal record this season (7-9), combined with a slow economy, didn’t help to bring in the crowds.
The Detroit Lions also fared poorly, with a 49,395 average per game and a total of only 395,162. Coming in at an average of 76 percent capacity, the Lions sold so poorly that they had four home games blacked out this season. Jacksonville and Detroit were leaders in being under 75 percent of capacity at any given game, with the Jags having six such games and the Lions four.
But the Oakland Raiders hold the title of weakest total sales for the season. The Raiders had an accumulated 354,276 seats sold, averaging only 44,285 per game. The team came in second for greatest sales loss, down 23.4 percent this year.
In all, eleven of the NFL’s teams made gains in ticket sales this year, but it was not enough to offset the losses of seventeen other teams, leaving a net sales loss for the League of 1.1 percent and raising concern that a sluggish economy is continuing to affect the fiscal health of the NFL.
As for post-season sales, the secondary market has benefited from fans’s growing excitement about their teams still in the running. Initially off to a slow start, playoff tickets have been selling well in recent weeks, and following the determination of Super Bowl opponents this weekend, Super Bowl XLIV tickets have become a hot commodity.