Cleveland attendance proves customers aren’t total suckers

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There are a few bedrock truths in the world, things you can count on year after year.

The Browns are bad at football, and market economies work.

According to Pat McManamon of ESPN.com, the Browns average attendance last year was 63,883, the lowest since the team came back to Cleveland in 1999. In fact, to find a year with fewer fans showing up, you’d have to go back to 1984, the year Sam Rutigliano was fired.

Even that average number is goosed a bit, since it includes their “home” game in London which drew 74,237 confused fans, who thought they were coming to see the best of American sport but got the Monkees instead of the Beatles.

Take out the London game and the average drops to 62,403, which is lower than 1995, the year the original Browns announced they were moving to Baltimore.

It’s the fourth straight year of declining attendance since 2013, when they averaged 71,242 at home. Stadium renovations in 2014 dropped the capacity of the stadium to 67,425. But they ranked 29th in the league in capacity of stadium filled at 85 percent.

Their average attendance in 2013 was 11th in the league. They’ve ranked 25th and 26th the last two seasons, though they haven’t ranked nearly that high in the standings, winning just one game.

The numbers might actually be worse, as the Browns count attendance by tickets sold rather than butts in seats.

So while the NFL as a whole is still healthy (as the new Thursday night package rights deal with Fox attests), there’s a clear correlation between success on the field and success at the gate. And Browns fans, anecdotally among the best in the league, seem to finally be voting with their wallets.

69 responses to “Cleveland attendance proves customers aren’t total suckers

  1. Not to defend the Browns for being a good organization, but attendance is down league wide and has been for years.

    All teams count attendance as seats sold, not people in them, and in that case the Browns are also not alone in this practice. So while yes you’re right the league is fine by TV revenue, it certainly has a massive problem with game day interaction and pretty soon I’m sure that will drive down the ratings and therefore the revenue.

  2. Despite being in the playoff hunt until the final weekend, the Chargers averaged less than half of the Browns number and couldn’t sell out a 27,000 seat soccer stadium. And those that did show up for a majority were there for the vising team. Embarrassing to say the least. Say what you want about the Browns inept FO, their fans still support the team. Kinda feel bad for the Brown faithful.

  3. Browns fans deserve better. They really do. So loyal.
    And that’s said from someone who doesn’t have much positive to say about Ohio.

  4. Perhaps it has something to do with the NFL canceling the long standing policy of not televising games locally if the stadium is not sold out. The rules have changed now that all games can be broadcast to local audiences.

  5. clevelandrocksyourface says:
    February 8, 2018 at 11:13 am
    Why would we pay for tickets, parking, and outrageously expensive booze when they were obviously tanking?

    The Browns were not tanking, and if you are a Browns fan you should be ashamed of your small mindedness. They have a QB who gives it up 2-4 times a game, usually while driving or in the red zone, and that would kill any team. If you seriously think they weren’t trying to win football games, you don’t watch enough football or aren’t bright enough to understand it.

  6. Blind faith can only take you do far. At some point there has to be a payoff, or at least be teased.

  7. And that’s Cleveland a hardcore passionate football town.

    I wonder how the Raiders will draw attendance in an apathetic sports city like Las Vegas when they’re a bad team? They’re going to have put slot machines in the stadium and offer cheap steak dinners, seafood buffets, and star halftime performances to put people in the seats.

  8. I feel really bad for the browns fans. They have easily been the most snake-bit team in the league – and I’m a Vikings fan. Seriously, they need a better owner. That organization has been dysfunctional from the bottom to the top.

    Agreeing with Cobrala, as awful as Ohio and most people in it are, Browns fans deserve better after all this time.

  9. “They’re going to have to put slot machines in the stadium and offer cheap steak dinners, seafood buffets, and star halftime performances to put people in the seats.”

    Actually, that sounds like a great stadium experience. What’s wrong with having varied forms of cuisine and entertainment at a stadium?

  10. Cleveland fans should jump ship and refuse to reup their season tix or buy others until con man Haslam is gone. Once his PilotFlyingJ scam was gone he needed a new one and its the Cleveland fans.

    41 million under the cap in 2016, a whopping 63 million under last season, even Belichick would be hard press to win many games with a player budget 51 million+ under the top 24 teams which were all 12 million or less under the cap.

  11. jonathankrobinson424 says:
    February 8, 2018 at 11:30 am
    The NFL should REALLY consider making the Cleveland Browns OWNER sell the team.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++

    I know it’s a horrible precedent to set, but I couldn’t agree more. At what point will the NFL step in to “protect” the integrity of the game, it’s brand, and it’s franchises? How much larger does that 1-31 win/loss number have to get?

    It’s a shame what’s happened to what was once one of the NFL’s proudest franchises. It was a shame when Modell moved the team. It’s a bigger shame what the NFL has allowed to happen to it since it was re-instated.

    Sorry Cleveland faithful. I truly do feel bad for you guys.

  12. hakunamangata says:
    attendance is down league wide and has been for years.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
    Not in GB pal. Lambeau has been sold out since 1987 and the only reason it didn't in 87 ……… NFL strike replacement players.

  13. The game day experience in Cleveland is second to none. Fans march down the main drag to the stadium like they don’t have a history of losing. You get inside the stadium and it’s electric, everybody barking like dogs.

    The roar at kickoff is amazing, nothing but positive vibes at this point. Then the game starts and as the Browns start losing, the fans turn to their bottles and get sloshed.

    The next game comes, and it’s like nothing happened, it’s really a great experience.

  14. it will only get worse after this years anthem protests. There were several games where the Ravens didn’t have 50k in the stands. it will be much worse next year

  15. The article title should read “I cant believe the Browns averaged 62k seats going 1-31”. Not many teams could get that attendance with that record.

  16. Roughly 45 year browns fan here…This was the first year I truly felt like an idiot. It’s apparently going around.

  17. Cleveland is a nice town. I have good friends there and they’re great people, although not football fans. So, the fact there are at least 63,883 Clevelanders ready, willing, able, and dumb enough to pay big bucks each home-game-Sunday to watch the Browns is astonishing to me. If 63,000 of them had stayed home at game time these last few years, you have to think that the Browns would have finally “got it” an won a lot more games than they have.

  18. Overall combined attendance figures throughout the past 8 years:

    2017- 17,253,425
    2016- 17,788,671
    2015- 17,569,479
    2014- 17,606,643
    2013- 17,510,569
    2012- 17,303,347
    2011- 17,252,948
    2010- 17,140,859

    Were there some fans that didn’t attend due to the anthem stuff, sure, but in my opinion it made no significant difference. There was no anthem issue in 2010, 2011, or 2015 when attendance dropped. There have always been ups and downs. This is why the NFL is still able to secure those big TV contracts etc. At the end of the day, their numbers are still great.

  19. CheeseisGoodforYou! says:

    Not in GB pal. Lambeau has been sold out since 1987 and the only reason it didn’t in 87 ……… NFL strike replacement players.
    ==========================================================

    When the only thing to do in Green Bay is go to a football game of course it’s going to be a sell out. Unless you want to hang out at Walmart.

  20. reddzen says:
    February 8, 2018 at 11:24 am
    clevelandrocksyourface says:
    February 8, 2018 at 11:13 am
    Why would we pay for tickets, parking, and outrageously expensive booze when they were obviously tanking?

    The Browns were not tanking, and if you are a Browns fan you should be ashamed of your small mindedness. They have a QB who gives it up 2-4 times a game, usually while driving or in the red zone, and that would kill any team. If you seriously think they weren’t trying to win football games, you don’t watch enough football or aren’t bright enough to understand it.
    —————————————————-
    Okay, so you’re saying that teams that are trying to stay competitive also keep $110M in cap space? Trust me, they weren’t trying to improve.

  21. pftthoughtpolicemostwanted says:
    February 8, 2018 at 11:08 am

    Or maybe it is backlash from when the team used children as human shields to protect its soft, racist players while they knelt during the National Anthem during a preseason game back in August.

    —–

    Maybe, but its not. If you hadn’t noticed, the Browns are 1-31 the last two seasons and haven’t had a playoff appearance in 15 years. They have also had the most cap space available in NFL history with nothing to show for it and the owner is under federal investigation for fraud.

    So while you are clearly bothered by black athletes using their platform to bring awareness to civic injustices without regard for hurting your poor wittle feelings, you might want to take a look in the mirror if you want to know what SOFT truly is.

  22. nfl4dummies says:

    February 8, 2018 at 11:12 am

    Despite being in the playoff hunt until the final weekend, the Chargers averaged less than half of the Browns number and couldn’t sell out a 27,000 seat soccer stadium. And those that did show up for a majority were there for the vising team. Embarrassing to say the least. Say what you want about the Browns inept FO, their fans still support the team. Kinda feel bad for the Brown faithful.

    Just a hunch, but I bet if the owner of the Browns yanked them outta Cleveland and moved them to a soccer stadium in LA they would have trouble filling it too. Just a hunch.

  23. I’ll (somehow) continue to watch every second of every game on TV. But other than that I refuse to put one red cent in Jimmy Haslam’s pocket until I see 3 winning seasons in a row. We’ll talk playoffs later. Baby steps.

    Attendance is still way too high if you ask me. I have heard from many who still go to games. They think crowd noise can be a factor or something. They say refusing to buy tickets, merchandise, concessions, whatever is being a fair weather fan. Screw that. Send a damn message, people.

  24. Or maybe it is backlash from when the team used children as human shields to protect its soft, racist players while they knelt during the National Anthem during a preseason game back in August.

    ——-

    It takes a special person to look at a team that’s gone 1-31 the last two years and say “THEY’RE ATTENDANCE IS DOWN BECAUSE OF KNEELING!”

  25. As others have said, the NFL needs to look at itself as part of this problem. Haslam is an idiot and a charlatan, but he’s no worse than the Lerner family before. We’ve been saddled with terrible ownership since we came back into the league. Just because some fool is rich doesn’t mean they “deserve” an NFL team. No one should be allowed to treat an NFL organization like a very poorly played version of Franchise Mode in Madden.

    This isn’t good for the NFL and of course it makes a mockery of fan loyalty and any sense of pride anyone can find in their team. Cleveland deserves better, fans deserve better, ANY NFL franchise deserves better than this manic idiocy.

    To summarize, to date: firing your coach and/or GM every two years – or less – doesn’t work and is NOT an effective way to build a successful organization.

  26. I wish there was a mechanism that forced Haslam to sell a team due to ineptness. He’s a steward of a legendary franchise and has destroyed it. I frankly have no idea how he became a billionaire in the first place. Pilot Flying J is a train wreck too.

    I didn’t think it was possible to be a worse owner than Randy Lerner, but I was wrong.

  27. Should have just left the Browns in Cleveland, the Colts in Baltimore, the Cardinals in St. Louis, the Chargers in San Diego and the Rams in L.A.
    Everyone else could just for the next expansion team.
    No screwing one fan base while milking another city dry.

  28. Does that include the attendance at “The 0 – 16 Parade” I went to? It was freezing cold and we all were drinking and *issed off. I was proud to be there. If a billionaire owner and millionaire coaches and players can’t win one single game it is mandatory the they be called out. We were there because we care. I didn’t run into one person who said they were no longer a Browns fan…. it was about sending a message to everyone in the Browns organization that their lack of urgency to put a product on the field that isn’t an embarrassment to our city on the field.

  29. Fox news says Americans are turning against the NFL in record numbers!!! Fox News says people are tired of watching athletes protest, especially in prime time games!

    In totally unrelated news… Fox just outbid CBS and NBC for Thursday night football.

  30. >nothingtoseehere27 says:
    >Overall combined attendance figures throughout the past 8 years:
    >2017- 17,253,425
    >2016- 17,788,671
    >2015- 17,569,479…..

    This is not a complete picture, the ticket prices also have an impact
    What if all tickets are $10 dollars next year , I bet more people will show up than $17M

  31. “The Browns are bad at football, and market economies work.”

    Really? So the fact that most Americans can’t afford a $500 emergency and 30,000,000 people don’t have health insurance is proof market economies work? Work for who besides the 1%? Please keep politics and religion out of football.

  32. After seeing what San Fran is paying a QB it is a wonder why anyone a fan of football would go to any of the NL games with the prices . The greed of the players and owners is finally starting to show up in the stands.

  33. “…who thought they were coming to see the best of American sport but got the Monkees instead of the Beatles”

    If you were to ask Quincy Jones, he’d probably say the Monkees were better musicians than the Beatles…and Nesmith was the only one who could play an instrument.

  34. This is all Paul Tagliabue’s fault! First he allowance a buffoon like Robert Irsay to move the Colts! Next, during the expansion process, the Sun King, steered the expansion committee to Jax and Char. while Balt had the best package available? This got the attention of owners in financial stress to look at Balt. Modell took the bait and jumped, setting the Browns for decades of pain!
    That’s why attendance is down in Cleveland!

  35. I would rather go to the stadium and pay to see a hologram game projected onto the field of the Kosar, Sipe or Jim Brown era. Honestly, after a whole generation of losing all that is propping this franchise up are memories of orange & brown muddy classic uniforms.

  36. I guess if you count the uneaten hot dogs for the 10s of thousands that didn’t show up, maybe you can get that 63k number. And yes, this terribly run organization’s players were the first to have a major anti-america protest on the field for the 2017 season….which you may remember they had to walk back big time with local law enforcement officials yet again.

  37. John Lennon was a huge fan of the Monkees, and looking back, the Monkees were a great band, no shame in seeing them.

    There’s no football Lennon that is a fan of the Browns, and we won’t look back at the 0-16 Browns in 30 years and say “hey, you know what? actually, they were damn Good”

  38. And that’s Cleveland a hardcore passionate football town.

    I wonder how the Raiders will draw attendance in an apathetic sports city like Las Vegas when they’re a bad team?

    ——-

    One could look to the Las Vegas Golden Knights as an example. I hear their attendance has been exceptional. So there’s that.

  39. As a lifetime Browns fan we can only hope and believe they can turn this train wreck around. To blame the fans for anything is ludicrous. I believe they have a GM in place to do this. Besides we are in our super bowl mode aka the draft. Just find a QB that can be the guy! And you can’t make the owner sell the team, this isn’t the NBA. And leave the Monkees and Beatles out this mess. Blame this on Art he should have sold the team to Al

  40. Do not go to the games or buy their crappy over-priced merch.

    I live in Ohio and haven’t bothered since ’99 to go to any game.

    The owner is a crook who should be locked up, the front office sucks, the coaches suck and the players totally suck!

    Has Hue jumped in the lake yet? Let me guess…….nope!

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