A NOTE ABOUT NBA ARENA CAPACITIES AND ATTENDANCE STATS
While researching web data for both seating capacities and game attendance, I discovered data inconsistences for both (a) seating capacities and (b) game attendance. The numbers just don't seem to match up. As to seating capacities, I've used NBA Box Score attendance data, where possible, to identify seating capacities ... i.e., if 2 or 3 items of "high" attendance which are close to the mark (or above) other capacity data I've located, I've used the Box Score number as the more reliable.
But, "attendance" presents quite a different issue. When a "Box Score" attendance number is presented, IS IT REAL?,
The following articles, shown verbatim from the original sources, say that it is not.
1st Article from the Portland Tribune: http://www.portlandtribune.com/archview.cgi?id=28172
Rose Garden numbers don't add up
Attendance at Blazer games keeps dropping, but few agree on how much, and at what price
By KERRY EGGERS Issue date: Tue, Feb 1, 2005, The Tribune
Despite unprecedented marketing campaigns "buy eight gallons of gas and get a free Blazer ticket" the Rose Garden has never looked so empty during Trail Blazer games.
According to an official internal NBA document given to the Portland Tribune, average paid attendance (tickets sold) for home games through Jan. 11 was 9,843, down about 13 percent from the 11,343 average at the same time last season (the arena seats 19,980 people). Portland ranks 28th in the league in average paid attendance, ahead of only Atlanta and New Jersey, according to an NBA source.
The league average, excluding expansion team Charlotte, is 13,646, up 2.84 percent from this time a year ago. Detroit (with an average of 19,536) leads the NBA in tickets sold.
Trail Blazer President Steve Patterson disputed the 9,843 figure, saying it didn't count people in courtside, preferred and suite seating. How many customers would that mean a night? 'I don't want to make a guess,' the Blazer executive said.
However, the source said, the NBA does include courtside, preferred and suite seating in its average paid attendance figures.
Portland's "official" attendance - averaging what the team announces as its attendance at each game - through 15 games this season is 16,558 (82.8 percent of its capacity), which ranks 18th among NBA clubs. Those figures are for "tickets distributed," meaning sold or given away and would include no-shows. Teams do not release turnstile attendance figures, which reflect how many spectators actually are at an arena on a given night. Before last Wednesday's home date with Dallas, security personnel were told by Blazer officials to expect a crowd of about 11,000. Attendance was announced at 16,402. Why the disparity?
"The higher figure would include comp (complimentary) tickets, plus padding the house," the Portland Tribune's source said.
"It varies from club to club, but (releasing inflated attendance figures) is pretty standard throughout the league. The Blazers may not be more egregious in that than anyone else."
Are Blazer attendance figures padded?
"No," Patterson claims, adding he would guess an average Blazer turnstile count would show "14,000 or 15,000 in the building" for each home date.
The box-office landscape at the Rose Garden has changed dramatically over its 10 years of existence. For the first seven seasons beginning in 1995-96, the Blazers had more than 13,000 in season ticket sales, suites were sold out, and courtside and preferred seating were between 95 percent and 97 percent capacity.
For the first three seasons after the $262 million arena opened, attendance was near or at full capacity of 21,500 for every home date. After owner Paul Allen ordered the arena downsized to 19,980 in 1998-99 - he liked the look of every seat being filled - the Blazers went through two full seasons and a string of 88 straight regular-season sellouts that ended early in the 2001-02 season. There were whispers that the Blazers purchased and gave away some tickets to keep the streak alive, but a Garden seat was still a precious commodity.
These are different times. Season tickets for the 2004-05 campaign are at about 7,000, according to Patterson. Preferred ticket sales - for 2,500 seats - are way down, and 30 of the arena's 70 suites are dark, with some of the other 40 in the final year of their lease.
2nd Article, from ESPN: http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=2065632
Naming rights unsold, attendance goals unmet
BATON ROUGE, La. -- An executive with the company that manages the Louisiana Superdome and New Orleans Arena says the state will owe the New Orleans Hornets $2.3 million because the arena's naming rights have not been sold and because of low attendance.
Doug Thornton, regional vice president of SMG, said the state owes the basketball team $1.6 million for not having sold the naming rights to the Arena and another $675,000 for not hitting attendance benchmarks.
The Hornets, who finished 18-64 this season, have a provision in their contract that calls for additional payment if the average per-game turnstile attendance is below 11,000. Thornton said the actual figure was about 9,200 fans per game this season, triggering the state payment.
"They get compensated on a sliding scale" based on attendance, Thornton said Friday.
The provision was part of the contract that helped lure the team from Charlotte, N.C.
This is the first time in three seasons in New Orleans the Hornets will get the extra money, Thornton said.
NBA attendance figures show the Hornets drew an average of 14,221, which was last in the league. But that figure was based on tickets sold and distributed. Turnstile attendance is important because it relates to revenues derived from parking and concessions.
So, the bottom line is this: Arena capacities are close, but not necessarily exact. But, as to seating capacities, look at the numbers with a very critical eye.