Sunday, 13 November 2011

Bums on Seats - An Attendance Analysis (Part 1)

The ABL aims to become a sustainable league - developing to a level where it is economically self-sufficient. At the moment the league is largely funded by the MLB (75%), and financial arrangements are set for the first five years of its existance. If the ABL is to survive past this (and I strongly hope it does), it needs to generate enough of its own income - and getting enough bums of seats is key to this.

The league is into its second season. In the first season, the Bandits hosted fourteen games over twelve nights (weather and floods cut the schedule short). So far, in the second season there have been four home games played. Figure 1 shows recorded attendance figures.

Figure 1: Attendance Values
While the data set is too limited to make conclusive remarks, after the initial first series boom attendances seem to be generally steady. Further data will be needed to determine whether this second season will be up or down on the first.

One variable that has a strong impact on attendances is the day of the week. As seen in Figure 2, Saturday attendances tend to be the strongest. It should be noted that there has only been one game on Monday and Tuesday so far (during the series spanning the new year), so these figures shouldn't be read into too much. What is suprising is the fact that Thursday games outdraw Sunday ones (always day games).

Figure 2: Attendance by Day
The Bandits are yet to play a home series against Canberra (the first season series was cancelled), and has only played two games at home against Adelaide. This limits the ability to compare attendances by opponent - but as more data becomes available, these trends will also be analysed.

On a more subjective note - I attended the Thursday and Saturday games of the recent series (the opening home stand). The atmosphere at both these games were very different - Saturday was a lot more vibrant, due to the stronger attendance and better on-field performance. While I'm not new to the ballpark, I can place myself in the shoes of a newcomer - that first impression would be completely different depending on the night of their attendance. The Bandits support crew have greatly improved as time has gone on (announcers/sound, the inter-innings activities, heck - even the food, despite the lines) - but the 'feel' of a night is undoubtably set by the crowd. It is critical to improve crowds, and on all nights, to creative a rich atmosphere that brings back first timers. If they can hit this tipping point, then a steady improvement can hopefully be acheived.

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