CFL Attendance down nearly 1,000 persons per game in 2018!

This season has seen the continuation of the disturbing trend at most CFL Stadiums.

Average CFL attendance declined from 24,644 in 2017 to 23,829 in 2018 - a decrease of 815 persons per game or 66,015 people over 81 games. This is the 6th consecutive season with a decline in average attendance.

There has been no substantial increase in current revenue streams - The tv contract pays more or less the same as it has for the past 5 or 6 years. There has also been no significant new revenue streams established in that timeframe either…perhaps the sponsorship of the GRey Cup by Shaw but that’s about it.

8 of 9 teams saw a decrease in attendance with the lone exception being Toronto increasing from 13,913 per game in 2017 to 14,210 per game in 2018 - an increase of just under 300. Considering Toronto slashed prices across the board on their seats it’s likely their game day revenue decreased from last year meaning they lost more money!

Overall, I see no reason this trend will discontinue. I expect attendance to decrease by another 800 - 1000 next year. Some early predictions for next year…which will be subject to change depending on how the remaining teams do in the playoffs and off-season moves (ie. where Mike Reilly ends up).

BC - 21,500
Calgary 27,000
Edmonton 28,500
Saskatchewan 31,000
Winnipeg 27,000
Toronto 13,500
Hamilton 22,000
Ottawa 23,000
Montreal 14,000

What will be said at the league state of the union Grey Cup week? Will we continue to hear the same BS from the commissioner as always?

Something drastic needs to be done. I really don’t know what that needs to be but the league cannot continue the downward trend. Especially with 2 new start up leagues in the picture now.

I doubt he addresses it beyond "there are some challenges in xxx markets. Otherwise, it will be sunshine and rainbows - discussion of slightly improved tv ratings (which are still down considerably from 2012), positive momentum with Halifax expansion, possible regular season games in Mexico, maybe an announcement of 2020 Grey Cup host.

If I’ve been paying attention on the boards, some reasons are as follows:

  • HD tv’s are better to watch the game
  • 3 Hours is too long for a football game
  • There is lots of traffic these days which makes getting to games hard
  • Week night games are no good

And the absolute elephant in the room, the average age of the CFL fan isn’t getting younger, and like it or not, the aging fans don’t want to go to a game when it’s cold / wet / hot / late / not meaningful etc etc etc.

If you expect gate numbers to increase, I have some swamp land in Florida I’ll sell ya.

One thing I would find interesting is the amount of money the average fan spends at a game compared to 5 or 10 years ago. My thoughts are 2X to 3X (or more) from what fans spent in the past. (simply from more food opportunities, more beverage opportunities, etc).

Good point.

I’m just happy to see the Argos leading the league in attendance!

Well, attendance increase anyway.

The league definitely has some challenges, and the biggest one I think is making the game seem cool to younger (18-30ish) fans, especially in the three biggest cities.

Diversity Is Strength is a nice campaign and has its place, but I don’t think it helps toward making the game cool to that demographic. They’ll need something edgier, like the Radically Canadian campaign that really helped turn around the leagues fortunes about 20 years ago.

Here’s what Toronto and Montreal especially need to do… add $20 endzone sections. Designate a few end zone sections to be $20 for adults and $10 for kids. That will open the games to lower income levels.

Also, teams with giant stadiums like Edmonton and BC should experiment more with lower ticket prices to see if they can fill the stadiums more. For example… BC could open the upper deck with cheap prices.

The attendance decline was actually 815, not Nearly 1000 Persons Per Game!, as you exaggeratingly claim.

You don’t know there was no significant new revenue streams. The facts are team revenue streams have steadily increased over the past 5 or 6 years, according to the Financial Statements released by the three community-owned clubs. The Bombers reported $32M in revenue last year, up substantially from previous seasons, for example.

Thanks for predicting a 1000 person drop in attendance next year, with fans like you we don’t need enemies.

For sure there are challenges in this area. Ambroise was on Prime Time Sports at the beginning of the season and has said the league has never been in the ticket selling business, meaning they have historically done a bad job so I’d like to see what plan he has to reverse the trend.

Looking at the link in the OP re: BC’s number it only takes in 8 home game out of 9.

The last home game vs. Calgary was listed at 24,117

That would bring the average from 19,457 to 19,974 a marginal bump from their 2017 average of 19,858.

Both Toronto and BC made adjustments to their prices this year. Argos across the board (though dropped comps) and the Lions reduced the prices for the corners and end zones, plus introduced child pricing in those areas.

Maybe at the end of the day people outside of the diehards just want to see value for money and wouldn’t be ironic if 2 of the 3 ‘troubled’ markets are the ones leading the charge to turn things around…for this year at least.

I don’t think there is any silver-bullet here. You can’t turn a “thing” into a must-do activity through a couple of promotions, it is a cultural and demographic issue. I enjoy watching the CFL but I don’t enjoy going to games, so I won’t - and, I know a very small proportion of people that show anywhere near my level of interest in the CFL, particularly those a generation or two behind me. There is no quick-fix and maybe no fix at all.

Any news about the performances of the super saturdays on attendance/ratings?

They need more Sunday games, to boost attendance. Saturday is a day most people use to , catch up on there supplies after working all week, and Sunday is a day of rest , and to kick back and watch 2 cfl games.

I agree that it is a cultural and demographic issue, but I do think that the proper ad campaign can do a lot to effect culture and demographics. Look at how well Old Spice has changed the attitude and demographics of its product through clever marketing. Look at how the CFL did the same in the late 90s early 2000s--at that time, the league was experiencing the same downward trends as they are now (except worse, IIRC), but they turned it around. That's not to say the Radically Canadian campaign was a silver bullet--there were other factors--but it was an attitude changer.

Exactly right. Ive been to multiple state of the league events and at every one now multiple commissioners have given the same stock answer of as you mention “there are some challenges…etc etc” but nothing in the way of a concrete way they plan on fixing the problem. And as you mention, then they will segue right into the “Diversity is Strength” campaign and mention the Halifax expansion, potential games in Mexico and perhaps a video game. While those things are all great, it still doesn’t address the issue of lack of butts in seats.

Not sure on the actual stats on this, but has the move to week day games and the lack of sunday games impacted the attendance.

I know I live in Saskatoon, and the chances of me going down to Regina for a Thursday game is unlikely, with work on that day and the next.

Would Sundays be better than Saturdays for attendance? TV Ratings used to be as strong if not stronger when games were played on Sunday.

I think you're dead on regarding weeknight games. The league saw a huge spike in interest once it began a steady night where everyone knew that the CFL was on. (Friday night Football with TSN, Saturday afternoons on CBC). We've kept Friday nights but now started doing games on Thursdays which as you mention is tough on game day attendance. I get its for overall TV viewership, but surely they could come up with something better than that.

Nothing that I posted was a lie. Why was it taken down??!!!

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Bottom line, in Reginathe Pil zone is affordable at 33 bucks a game, but when that rose to 300.00 for Labour day because of resale on ticket master, that left a real bad taste in my mouth. This is the downside of ticket master.

I’m going on Sunday, a playoff game, same team as labour day, for 33 bucks.

I used to get to about 4 games a year (season tics don’t work, cause I never know what I’m doing one week to the next in the summer), this year was 1, plus this comingplayoff game. I loatheticket masters resale system, it bites,which is a contributing factor for me not going to games. I don’t even look to see if there are tics sometimes, because the price is sometimesjust not worth it.

Used to go to games in tailor field, sit on the 45 yard line for 65 bucks, its’s now 100.00 No thanks, Ill take to the concourse and watch the game from almostanywhere for 33 bucks thanks.

That’s my rant.

It will trend this way until the league finds a way to attract young fans to take over from the loyal but increasingly geriatric and dead fans.

Those things are damaging. Same as pricing the middle class out of the Grey Cup.