The story of individual NBA team attendance is less straightforward than that of baseball. Since attendance hovers around max capacity at 93% and arena sizes are the smallest of the major sports, much depends on the capacity of the home venue for each team in addition to the usual factors such as team success and market size. Thus, the team with the largest venue—the Chicago Bulls, who built the United Center during the peak of Michael Jordan’s popularity—has the highest total attendance and the highest average attendance.
In fact, the 14 teams with the highest total attendance yield the identical order in terms of average attendance. These data suggest that other attendance statistics should be used to asses live game team interest. For example, the Bulls have the 19th lowest minimum game attendance at 17,462. To see the full data on NBA game attendance along with more insights, view the previous installment of FanWide’s data science blog series.
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Indeed, the minimum attendance statistics point us in the direction of valid exploration—variance. Incredibly, three NBA teams have sold out every game for the past four seasons—the Cavs and Warriors as one would expect (especially since Golden State plays in a very old arena with a relatively small capacity), along with the Thunder. It’s clear then that consistency is the name of the game when it comes to measuring NBA fan interest. As such, the ranking by variance yields an ordering much more in line with expectations with popular teams in big markets with stars or a history of winning leading the way.
Three NBA teams have unreal attendance.