Economics of NFL Attendance

  • Aju Fenn
Part of the Sports Economics, Management and Policy book series (SEMP, volume 2)


The NFL started as an in-person spectator sport. Football teams played in baseball stadiums and around the MLB schedule. That is no longer the case. In 2010 the average attendance at an NFL game has grown to 516,238 spectators at home games. At least 150 million people watched part of an NFL game during the first 4 weeks of the 2010 season. On average 18.9 million people watched an NFL game on TV in 2010. The NFL was the most profitable US professional sports league, with a staggering $7.8 billion in revenues in 2009. While game day ticket sales are still an important part of NFL revenues they are second to the revenues from the NFL television broadcasting contracts. According to Forbes, in 2008 NFL revenues added up to $7.6 billion. $3.7 billion came from television contracts including DirecTV. Thus, the average team made $237 million in total revenue. A typical team made $59 million from ticketing and concessions. Therefore ticketing and concessions were about 25% of revenues, whereas television revenues comprised about 50% of the total revenues. Does attendance at games still matter? Yes it most definitely does. The NFL will not allow games that are not sold out to be televised locally. No one wants to watch a game at a partially filled stadium even if they are at home. It is for this reason that a chapter on NFL attendance deserves our attention.


Demand Curve Ticket Price Home Team Average Attendance Ticket Sale 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Boyd D, Boyd LA (1998) The home field advantage: Implications for the pricing of tickets of professional team sporting events. J Econ Finan 22:169–179CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Brook SL (2006) Evaluating inelastic ticket pricing models. Int J Sports Finan 1(3):140–150Google Scholar
  3. Brook SL, Fenn AJ (2008) Market power in the National Football League. Int J Sport Finan 3(4):239–244Google Scholar
  4. Brunkhorst JP, Fenn AJ (2010) Profit maximization in the National Football League. J Appl Bus Res 26(1):45–58Google Scholar
  5. El Hodiri M, Quirk J (1971) An economic model of a professional sports league. J Polit Econ 79:1302–1319CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. El Hodiri M, Quirk J (1974) The economic theory of a professional sports league. In: Noll RG (ed) Government and the sports business. Brookings Institution, Washington, DC, pp 33–80Google Scholar
  7. El Hodiri M, Quirk J (1975) Stadium capacities and attendance in professional sports. In: Ladany SP (ed) Management science applications to leisure-time operation. North Holland, Amsterdam, pp 246–262Google Scholar
  8. Fort R (2004) Subsidies as incentive mechanisms in sports. Manag Decis Econ 25:95–102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Quirk J, Fort RD (1992) Pay dirt: the business of professional team sports. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  10. Fort R, Lee YH (2006) Stationarity and major league baseball attendance analysis. J Sports Econ 7(4):408–415CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Heilmann RL, Wendling WR (1976) A note on optimum pricing strategies for sports events. In: Machol RE, Ladany SP, Morrison DG (eds) Management science in sports. North-Holland, Amsterdam, pp 91–99Google Scholar
  12. Krautmann A, Berri DJ (2007) Can we find it at the concessions? Understanding price elasticity in professional sports. J Sports Econ 8(2):183–191CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Marburger D (1997) Optimal ticket pricing for performance goods. Manag Decis Econ 18:375–381CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Nesbit TM, King KA (2010) The impact of fantasy football participation on NFL attendance. Atl Econ J 38(1):95–108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Salant DJ (1992) Price setting in professional team sports. In: Sommers P (ed) Diamonds are forever: the business of baseball. Brookings Institution, Washington, DC, pp 77–90Google Scholar
  16. Spenner EL, Fenn AJ, Crooker J (2010) The demand for NFL attendance: a rational addiction model. J Bus Econ Res 8(12):21–41Google Scholar
  17. The National Football League (1991–2010) The official National Football League record and fact book. New York: The National Football LeagueGoogle Scholar
  18. Welki A, Zlatoper T (1994) U.S. professional football: the demand for game-day attendance in 1991. Manag Decis Econ [serial online] 15(5):489–495. Common/OtherData/NFLAttendance/NFLAttendance.html

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Colorado CollegeColorado SpringsUSA

Personalised recommendations