Is there a relationship between recent team performance and in-stadium attendance?

By: STATS LLC | July 15, 2015

It is expected that when home teams are on winning streaks, more fans would want to see their team. Thus it would make sense to promote that success to lead to higher in-stadium attendance. But is the data really consistent with that assumption? To test this out, we can compare MLB attendance data against the season average when home teams are on a winning streak. For example, in 2014 there were two games where the home team came into the game with a 10-game win streak. First was the Friday, August 22, 2014 game with the Washington Nationals where their attendance was 33,718. Second was the Sunday, September 14, 2014 Los Angeles Angels game where the attendance was 35,364. The Nationals 2014 average attendance was 31,844, so that game was a bit over their average. The Angels 2014 average attendance was 38,221, so their game was a bit under their average.

2012   2013   2014   2015  
Avg. Incr. Streak Avg. Incr. Streak Avg. Incr. Streak Avg. Incr. Streak
-0.71% 3 0.24% 3 1.82% 3 2.64% 3
-1.47% 4 -3.98% 4 4.03% 4 2.42% 4
-1.14% 5 -4.08% 5 7.64% 5 2.92% 5
5.13% 6 -1.23% 6 3.28% 6 -0.60% 6
-8.14% 7 0.86% 7 7.37% 7 16.79% 7
-3.21% 8 6.66% 8 -2.45% 8 -13.14% 8
0.99% 9 21.61% 9 -6.07% 9 -12.44% 9
-4.32% 10 8.77% 10 -0.80% 10 -22.97% 10

The increase or decrease in average attendance can fluctuate quite a bit regardless of whether a team is on a winning streak. What could account for these frustratingly inconsistent results? The data from what day the game occurs on might give us a better indicator:

2012   2013   2014   2015  
Avg. Incr. Day Avg. Incr. Day Avg. Incr. Day Avg. Incr. Day
-11.40% MONDAY -9.03% MONDAY -9.52% MONDAY -6.95% MONDAY
-11.43% TUESDAY -11.81% TUESDAY -10.48% TUESDAY -14.52% TUESDAY
-9.11% WEDNESDAY -10.17% WEDNESDAY -10.55% WEDNESDAY -11.96% WEDNESDAY
-7.36% THURSDAY -8.49% THURSDAY -9.13% THURSDAY -9.62% THURSDAY
9.30% FRIDAY 6.33% FRIDAY 6.97% FRIDAY 8.41% FRIDAY
16.18% SATURDAY 16.69% SATURDAY 16.43% SATURDAY 18.89% SATURDAY
7.06% SUNDAY 9.46% SUNDAY 8.30% SUNDAY 12.21% SUNDAY

Now this data shows a more consistent, logical result. Average attendance increases much more on the weekends than during the week. Because the weekends tend to draw significantly more fans, a winning streak for a game on a Tuesday might not increase attendance enough over the season average to give a positive result.

But what if we combine these two results to look at the average increase over the average attendance on that specific day during a win streak? In other words, does a Tuesday game during a winning streak increase over the average attendance of Tuesday games?

2012   2013   2014   2015  
Avg. Incr. Streak Avg. Incr. Streak Avg. Incr. Streak Avg. Incr. Streak
-1.26% 3 -0.26% 3 1.37% 3 -0.74% 3
-2.54% 4 -1.20% 4 4.50% 4 0.21% 4
-0.93% 5 -1.92% 5 5.85% 5 1.19% 5
5.69% 6 -0.65% 6 3.05% 6 2.30% 6
-3.09% 7 5.53% 7 4.18% 7 15.95% 7
-3.93% 8 6.15% 8 -6.05% 8 -13.62% 8
16.22% 9 16.18% 9 -6.69% 9 -7.75% 9
10.16% 10 11.23% 10 -1.28% 10 -14.42% 10

Again, the inconsistent data indicates that winning streaks don’t seem to affect in-stadium attendance. To go back to our example above, the Nationals averaged 33,679 fans for Friday games, which the attendance was only slightly above. The Angels averaged 36,333 fans for Sunday games, which the attendance was still below. So when allocating marketing resources, winning streaks may not push fans into the stadium as commonly thought.

By: Zax Foster, Sr. Developer