Monday, February 23, 2009

Battle of Florida: Part II

A slow news day led me to re-visit the attendance battle between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers (Click here for first part). The two teams are now very much on the opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of playoff, as the Panthers push for its first playoff appearance in seven seasons. However, Tampa Bay is out-averaging the Panthers by about a 1,000 spectators per game, and fills the St. Pete Times Forum to about 85 % while the Panthers are filling the BankAtlantic Center to 79%.

Let's take a look at the Game by Game attendance for each team (click to enlarge):

As you can tell without even enlarging the graph, the red line (Tampa Bay) easily out-sold the blue line (Florida) in the first half of the season. But, as possible playoff fever takes hold in Sunrise, Florida; the Panther's attendance has actually begun to somewhat stabilize and, to an extent, rise.

Florida is up 1.5% from their first half average, and 10.5 % in the past two weeks (6 game homestand). Meanwhile, Tampa Bay is down 5% from their first half average, but up 1% in the past two weeks as they also finished up a 6 game homestand Sunday.

Now, last time I did this I "concluded" three points about these two southern markets:
  1. The smaller fan bases the two teams enjoy will most likely be much more willing to attend weekend games rather than weeknight games.
  2. Retired diehards that shipped themselves to Florida from anywhere above the Mason-Dixon line will gladly spend their savings on seeing their team.
  3. If there is an promotional event going on, the ticket holders are most likely one and done consumers.
During their recent homestands, Florida and Tampa Bay each played host to four weekend home games ("Weekend" to me (and to sports marketers, most likely) mean Thursday through Sunday afternoon). This undoubtedly aided to their recent attendance figures, along with the fact that a couple of great northern markets came swinging through the retirement state in the shape of Toronto, Boston, and Chicago. That covers the first two points.

I think Florida will win the second half battle of attendance against Tampa Bay because of point 3. Florida can benefit from a great playoff race with ticket offers and bandwagon fans; especially if they make the playoffs. After the season/playoffs, I will take another look at this and we will find out if Tampa Bay hung in there or if the Panthers overtook them.

Playing Below Capacity, Florida Panthers edition, comes tomorrow around noon.

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