With the bitterness and animosity swirling in Seattle around the loss of the Sonics, I thought we could take a look at the NBA teams who won’t be getting relocated any time soon. In this statistical analysis we use each team’s ability to fill their home arena (ESPN average percentage of capacity) over the last four years. We did this to eliminate the obvious advantage for teams with larger capacity facilities. We used only teams that ranked in the top 10 in attendance in any of the past four seasons.
Amazingly, there are three teams in the NBA that averaged above their arena’s capacity over the past four years combined; one team over capacity in each of the last four seasons. As I compiled these stats I wondered…how could that be? How does a NBA team average more than their capacity (i.e 104.7%). Then I realized there is something known as “standing-room”, and these three teams have so much NBA clout with their fans they have up to 3,000 people standing to watch a game. The three teams who averaged over capacity the last four years? Come on, I’m not gonna spoil it for you…
#10 San Antonio Spurs (AT&T Center)
4-Year Attendance: 98.6%
Year Opened: 2002
Cost: $237 Million
4-Year Team Record: 58-24, 50-16, 61-21, 52-32 (221-93) .704%
Franchise: Tim Duncan
This year’s Eastern Conference champs have the best four-year record on our list, yet come in at #10. After winning 50+ games the last four years one might have thought they should have ranked higher, but it seems the small market franchise is not getting its money’s worth from their fans.
#9 New York Knicks (Madison Square Garden)
4-Year Attendance: 98.7%
Year Opened: 1968
Cost: $1.16 Billion (includes 2 renovations 1991 & 2012)
4-Year Team Record: 54-28, 36,30, 42-40, 29-53 (161-151) .516%
Franchise Player: Carmelo Anthony
The rejuvenation of the New York Knickerbockers 2013 NBA squad, who won 54 games and the Atlantic Division Title, couldn’t have come at a better time. The franchise just sank $980 million into the renovation of the aging yet iconic MSG, and will look to recoup some of that cost quickly by filling some very expensive seats.
#8 Miami Heat (American Airlines Arena)
4-Year Attendance: 98.8%
Year Opened: 1999
Cost: $294 Million
4-Year Team Record: 66-16, 46-20, 58-24, 47-35 (217-95) .696%
Franchise Player: LeBron James
The Heat enjoyed a pretty significant spike in attendance with the arrival of the “big three” in 2011. The Heat jumped from 90.5% to 100.9% from 2010 to 2011, raising attendance more the 10%. Throw out 2010 and the Heat would easily be in the top 5 in NBA attendance.
#7 Boston Celtics (TD Garden)
4-Year Attendance: 99.4%
Year Opened: 1995
Cost: $241 Million
4-Year Team Record: 41-40, 39-27, 56-26, 50-32 (186-125) .598%
Franchise Player: Paul Pierce
The Celtics have been ultra-consistent in filling the seats with exactly 100% of their arena filled in each of the last three seasons. Although the last two seasons have been down years for the once mighty Champs, the diehard Boston fans continue to flock to the Garden.
#6 Orlando Magic (Amway Center)
4-Year Attendance: 99.5%
Year Opened: 2010
Cost: $505 Million
4-Year Team Record: 20-62, 37-29, 52-30, 59-23 (168-144) .538%
Franchise Player: Jameer Nelson
How does the worst team in the NBA in 2013 rank in the top 10 in attendance over the last four years? Well this year’s attendance took a massive dip at 93.4%, however the three years previous Magic fans attended in force (102.1%, 102.6%, 100%). They will likely plummet off this list with another season like 2013, despite their glorious shiny new arena.
#5 Oklahoma City Thunder (Chesapeake Energy Arena)
Year Attendance: 99.7%
Year Opened: 2002
Cost: $224 Million
4-Year Team Record: 60-22, 47-19, 55-27, 50-32 (212-100) .679%
Franchise Player: Kevin Durant
Sonics fans may not like this, but since the franchise moved to OKC…the team has flourished. OKC has a franchise player in Kevin Durant who is also the new face of the NBA. The Thunder has had no issue filling seats, having 100% attendance the last two years. A fun, fast paced, and exciting style of play combined with a championship caliber squad…lands them in our top 5.
#4 Los Angeles Lakers (Staples Center)
4-Year Attendance: 99.7%
Year Opened: 1999
Cost: $517 Million
4-Year Team Record: 45-37, 41-25, 57-25, 57-25 (200-112) .641%
Franchise Player: Kobe Bryant
Say what you will about Lakers fans, but they show up to the arena with incredible regularity. For four straight years they’ve had 99.7% of the famous Staples Arena packed with rabid Laker fans. It will be interesting to see if the trend continues with the end of Kobe Bryant’s career in sight.
#3 Portland Trailblazers (Rose Garden)
4-Year Attendance: 100.8%
Capacity: 20, 636
Year Opened: 1995
Cost: $395 Million
4-Year Team Record: 33-49, 28-38, 48-34, 50-32 (159-153) .510%
Franchise Player: LaMarcus Aldridge
Blazers fans have to be the most impressive on our list. Granted there isn’t a whole lot going on sports wise in Portland, Blazer fans dedication is still impressive. With the lowest winning percentage on our list at barely .500% and no real franchise player, the Blazers still fill seats at an astounding rate. From 2010-2012 they were at 102.6% or higher, but dipped to 95.4% with a disappointing 2013.
#2 Chicago Bulls (United Center)
4-Year Attendance: 103.5%
Year Opened: 1994
Cost: $271 Million
4-Year Team Record: 45-37, 50-16, 62-20, 41-41 (198-114) .635%
Franchise Player: Derrick Rose
The United Center has 2212 standing-room-only seats that apparently are filled on a regular basis. The last three seasons the Bulls have seen 104.2%, 105.9%, and 104.6% attendance. The arrival of Derrick Rose and the re-emergence of the once mighty Bulls has brought Bulls fans back in full force. Not even the season-long absence of the Bulls best player kept patrons from filling the seats.
#1 Dallas Mavericks (American Airlines Center)
4-Year Attendance: 104.8%
Year Opened: 2001
Cost: $545 Million
4-Year Team Record: 41-41, 36-30, 57-25, 55-27 (189-123) .606%
Franchise Player: Dirk Nowitzki
This was a surprise at #1! I knew the Mavs had a very nice following since they won it all in 2011, but had no idea they would be #1 by a significant margin. The Mavs have nearly 2000 standing-room-only seats that are filled on a nightly basis and were the only team over 100% attendance in each of the last 4 seasons. We all know how Dallas Cowboys fans follow their club, now it’s apparent Mavericks fans go big as well…
2013 capacity and cost via Wikipedia
QFS Rating System
Stay tuned…we will release the Bottom 10 attending NBA Teams soon.