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.