How the NBA Set an All-Time Attendance Record This Season
If we’re to believe that numbers never lie, then this was good year for the National Basketball Association. In fact, according to a Forbes breakdown, it was a record-breaking season.
Prior to the 2014-2015 regular season, the single-season high for attendance in the NBA was 21,841,480. This mark was hit during the 2006-2007 season. But no longer will that total reign supreme. For this season, attendance reached an all-time record of 21,926,548. Not only is this figure insane, but it’s an increase of 2.4% from last season’s average total. The only way for a number like this to be achieved is if other attendance records were toppled this regular season. Which is exactly what went down.
For starters, the NBA achieved a new benchmark for average attendance per contest. Again, the 2006-2007 season was when the previous high mark was set. That year, the league averaged 17,757 fans per game. This past season, the number reached an average of 17,826 people per game. With so many folks attending basketball games during the 2014-15 season, the league also profited from a record-breaking number of sold-out games: 700, to be exact. Could this also contribute to an increase in average arena capacity for the season? Absolutely.
This regular season was the 11th straight time that arenas in the NBA had reached an average capacity of 90% percent or higher. But as Forbes points out, this was the first time the league hit 94% in its average arena capacity. While every team in the league was responsible for helping reach this all-time high, some teams managed to stand out among the rest.
When LeBron James opted to return to his roots, it became inevitable that basketball was going to flourish in Cleveland. No longer were the Cavaliers destined to be the laughingstock of the NBA. This team had one goal in mind: an NBA title. And the people of Cleveland needed to watch their team rise from the ashes. They came out in droves to do so.
For the 2014-2015 season, Quicken Loans Arena was filled with an average of 20,562 attendees per game. This figure means that Cavaliers games, on average, met 100% percent capacity for the year. We guess that’s how their total attendance for the year reached 843,042. That’s considerably better than the lowly Philadelphia 76ers, whose average capacity per contest was a league low of 13,940.
The Wells Fargo Center only saw 68.6% average capacity, which eventually gave the Sixers just 571,572 in total attendance for the year. The juxtaposition in attendance between these two clubs is most likely directly tied to the level if each team’s success. However, the Cavaliers didn’t have the highest attendance in the NBA this season. Like their finish in the Eastern Conference race, Cleveland found itself No. 2.
The Chicago Bulls may have ended the year behind the Cavs in the Central Division, but the team was second to none in total attendance. Chicago’s 41 home games brought the club 875,091 attendees for the 2014-2015 regular season. Due to this high volume, the Bulls finished beyond 100% average capacity on the year; their final tally was 102% capacity. And yet, the Dallas Mavericks finished the year with the highest average capacity out of any team in the NBA (105.1%). You have to love the extra profit that comes with standing-room-only tickets.
There may have been a big gap between the clubs with the highest attendance and those with the lowest, but as the breakdown points out, nine teams still had a total attendance this year of more than 800,000. If there was ever a doubt with regard to the popularity of the National Basketball Association, these figures tell a different story. And the numbers never lie.
To view the rest of Forbes’ attendance analysis, click here.
Attendance data provided by ESPN.go.com.