When a team starts to lose, you expect attendance and TV ratings to drop. Winning teams make appointment television and only the die hards seemingly can sit through the slog of the final weeks of the season as the team plays these games out.
That is not a surprise. The Magic expected this.
Magic COO Alex Martins said last year that he and the organization expected this change and that it is part and parcel to the process of rebuilding a franchise. Interest in the Magic is still present even if it has not meant butts in the seats and eyes on the television.
The numbers though are somewhat shocking. Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel detailed those numbers as the Magic’s 2014 season comes to a close:
Through Friday, the Magic have averaged an announced crowd — a figure calculated by adding the number of tickets sold to the number of complimentary tickets distributed — of 16,180 fans per game at Amway Center. That’s a decrease of 8.0 percent from last season and a decrease of 14.4 percent from the 2011-12 season, which was Howard’s final year with the Magic.
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City of Orlando records, which list the number of tickets scanned at arena entrances at each game, show that an average of 12,681 people attended the Magic’s first 38 home games this season. That’s a decrease of 7.1 percent from last season’s scan count and a decrease of 20.3 percent compared to the scan counts for the 2011-12 season.
TV ratings followed similar dropoffs from the 2012 for sure and even from last year. Again, this is not a surprise.
The reality is that the cost of going to NBA games is rising somewhat. The culture of NBA games trends toward the suite-holders and that has been something that Magic fans have been accused of for sure — our “wine and cheese” crowd. You cannot build new arenas with all these amenities and not expect an increase.
Fans will happily pay for a seat though when the team is good again. And there were more than a few sellouts.
As Robbins notes in his story, the business of the Magic seems to be booming in a way that should set the team up well when the wins do start coming in. Season ticket sales are on track according to Robbins’ discussion with Alex Martins. And the Magic have put a larger focus on targeting fans from Brazil on vacation, attendees at a convention and selling 5- and 7-game plans.
For all the downturn in the raw numbers, there is still surprisingly good energy in the building. For what it is, the Magic have still gotten great crowd support. It does not feel like attendance at Magic games are not a humongous problem.
When the wins return, the fans and attendance should too.