Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Atlanta Analyzed Part II of IV

See Part I here.

With the Thrashers' season at an end, it is time for us here at the Chronicle to step back and look at thins from a distance just as the Atlanta Spirit Group is hopefully doing. Toward that end, I will be posting a four part series designed to examine Atlanta as a sports market (parts one and two), then the Thrashers' place within that market (part 3), and finally the things that can be done to improve Atlanta's place therein (part 4).

In the first installment of this series, we saw that Atlanta, with far more choices available, attends their local sporting events at a much higher rate than fans in Toronto. If you take away the huge factor of college and professional football, the attendance per capita is roughly the same, but higher in Atlanta than our neighbor to the far north.

Let's make these same comparisons using three American markets. Chicago and Pittsburgh are generally considered to be two of the "best sports towns" in the US. We will examine their attendance numbers along with those in Columbus, which is home to the NHL team that I feel most closely mirrors the Atlanta Thrashers in most respects. All figures will be averages over the past ten years using the most data I can compile.

Team Sport Average per game attendance


Cubs Baseball 38,240

White Sox Baseball 27,645

Bears Football 62,166

Blackhawks Hockey 16,112

Notre Dame Football 80,795

Bulls Basketball 20,749

Aggregate Average 245,717

Per Game Per Team Average 40,952

Baseball (two teams), basketball, and hockey average 25,685

Per Capita Attendance at Baseball, Hockey, and Basketball: .0027

Metro Population 9,569,624


Pirates Baseball 22,608

Steelers Football 63,886

Penn State Football 107,131

Penguins Hockey 15,767

Aggregate Average 209,392

Per Game Per Team Average 52,348

Baseball, and hockey average 19,187

Per Capita Attendance at Baseball, Hockey, and Basketball: .0079

Metro Population 2,431,087


Blue Jackets Hockey 16,618

Ohio State Football 104,716

Cleveland Indians Baseball 27,094

Cleveland Blazers Basketball 18,440

Aggregate Average 166,868

Per Game Per Team Average 41,717

Baseball (Cleveland), basketball (Cleveland) and hockey average 20,717

Per Capita Attendance at Baseball, Hockey, and Basketball: .012 (hockey only- .0096)

Metro Population 1,725,570

So looking at the per capita attendance excluding football, Atlantans at .0039 are slightly better fans than their counterparts in Toronto (.0038), a good bit better than fans in Chicago (.0027), and fall far short of Pittsburgh (.0079) and Columbus (.0096 for hockey alone).

Since our whole point here is that Atlantans have more choices than other cities and attend sports in general at a higher rate, let's factor football back in and see the per capita yearly attendance rating for all cities. For this we'll add up the per game averages of all major teams then divide by the metro area population.

Atlanta: .0509
Toronto: .0156
Chicago: .0256
Pittsburgh: .0849
Columbus: .0960
Columbus (Blue Jackets and Buckeyes only): .0703

Keep in mind that for Columbus we are using attendance figures not just of the Blue Jackets and Buckeyes who are in town, but also of the Cleveland Trailblazers and Indians two hours down the road. For Pittsburgh we are using attendance figures for Penn State University football located two hours away, and for Chicago we are including Notre Dame which is an hour and forty five minutes away. The University of Georgia is one hour and twenty minutes from downtown Atlanta.

When you look at the population and how they turn out for major sporting events, Atlanta eclipses Toronto and Chicago, but does not approach the numbers put up by Pittsburgh and Columbus, but Atlanta does enjoy a much larger population than the latter two cities. Thus, the Atlanta market is obviously a good one for sports in general. In my next installment we will examine the competition between the Thrashers, Hawks, Braves, Falcons, Yellow Jackets, and Bulldogs for Atlantans money and emotional investment, then we will explore what can be done to shift the balance more in favor of Atlanta's hockey franchise.

For the Blueland Chronicle, I'm Razor Catch Prey.

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