The CFL puts as many bums in seats as the NFL (per capita)

Further to discussions pitting the American media hype juggernaut (aka "Kool-Aid") against actual numbers:

Relative Populations:
Canada: 35,158,300 (2013 estimate)
USA: 317,480,000 (2013 estimate)

Regular Season Gameday Attendance Average:
CFL: 27,005 (includes Hamilton's Guelph numbers)
NFL: 68,339

Number of Regular Season Games:
CFL: 72
NFL: 256

League-wide Total Regular Season Attendance:
CFL: 1,944,360
NFL: 17,494,784

Percentage of National Population Attending:
Canada: 5.53% (with Hamilton playing in a half sized stadium)
USA: 5.51%

All told, almost exactly the same proportion of the population. It will be interesting to revisit this with Ottawa in the league and Hamilton back to attendance numbers in the 24,000 range.

I'd like to augment this info with average ticket pricing. While I could quickly find a few reports on NFL ticket costs. I couldn't find a report on the average price of a CFL ticket. Although I imagine it is in the $50 range.

Feel free to complete this.

Average Ticket Price:
CFL: ?
NFL: $82

Rebuttals and critiques of this numbingly simple breakdown are welcome.


If we're going to compare regular season to regular season, its also worth noting the CFL has the benefit of two extra weeks in that little bit of number crunching I did..

cue mikem with the ridiculous rebuttal.

I don't know what Mikem might have in mind, so I'll go first.

How many of those bums in seats in the CFL and NFL are really also bums and vice versa?

I like the NFL too though I love to poke fun on both sides of the border, like I do for that team in Saskatchewan (hey congrats again), at especially the American media darling NFC East Division with the Cowboys, Eagles (my 2nd team), Giants, and Redskins.

And if you are as greedy and ruthless an owner like that Dan Snyder of the Redskins in the NFL, well then you just focus on making those all those bums bigger and fatter in all the seats you are filling anyway from amongst the homer and bojack faithful sheeple and without resuming any winning tradition because winning is merely secondary. It's a business first you know. :roll:

At least the Roughriders have another Grey Cup to show with their profitability too I would think!

...$50 sound a little steep, maybe $40...there are entire sections in most stadiums that are marketed as 'family zones' and sell for a little as $20...

...the real story is TV deal though, millions vs. billions

" faithful sheeple and without resuming any winning tradition because winning is merely secondary"

Are you referring to the Leafs? :stuck_out_tongue:

That's well documented.

What I was trying to draw attention to was the relative interest in actually seeing a live game in Canada as compared with the US. It might be surprising for some to know that the same proportion of Canadians take in live pro football as Americans.

Good breakdown joe.
Dare I say how the other side would never acknowledge same nor that the CFL is the second most favourite league behind hockey.
Of course, with the TV numbers being a close second to the NHL.
However and here is the real rub, in proportion and really sad how the CFL is given nowhere close the media coverage that is very much deserved.

Hamilton/Guelph numbers shouldn't be included in the average per capita for obvious reasons.
If excluded it would increase the CFL percentage a good portion higher.

Let's conduct the same formula at this time next year to compare.
I believe the figures will have much more of a discrepancy favoring the CFL.

thanks for the info joe. :thup:

Was at Green Bay this year for a game - 17 rows from the top , $34.00 per ticket , poor seats
NOTE : IT was published before Christmas either in the Star or Globe and Mail that some NFL owners have bought back thousands of unsold tickets , which I was surprised with , one of the examples stated was old Ralph and his Buffalo Bills

More TV revenue added to teams when park looks full - I don't know , just saying

It would not be correct to conclude from these numbers that there is more interest in attending live football in Canada than in the US. You would need to look at limiting factors, in other words, what is preventing higher attendance in the two leagues.

Ticket prices are one of those factors; as prices increase, the number of people willing to pay for tickets drops. If ticket prices in the CFL were as high as those in the NFL, attendance in the CFL would be lower. How much lower, who can say, other than the teams' marketing departments?

But a much more important limiting factor is stadium size. If you look at the attendance figures for the NFL, you'll see that most stadiums are at or even over capacity. The same cannot be said for the CFL, which is running at around 75% capacity across the league. If the NFL stadiums were bigger, more people would be able to attend, increasing their attendance totals. By how much, again, who knows? But it would be higher, probably higher than the CFL's attendance by population.

Good points concerning pricing and capacity.

With respect to pricing, that's why I threw out the average ticket price question. It would be nice to have a sort of index like seat-dollars per population or something to compare. 'merica would win out on this measure.

With respect to capacity however, while most NFL stadiums are indeed close to or beyond full, the league average is still about 96% and as such, still below full capacity so I'm not sure how many more people would indeed attend league-wide if stadiums were bigger.

Speaking of bigger stadiums, these numbers were put together with Hamilton playing an hour outside of its core market reducing its attendance numbers for the year almost in half. To offset the lost revenue, the cheapest tickets in Guelph were $35 and there were not too many of those. Next year Hamilton will be back to a full stadium and we will also have Ottawa which together should add somewhere in the ballpark of 300,000+ to the annual league-wide attendance. So Canada would be in the vicinity of 6.5% attending.

It is an admittedly oversimplified comparison. We don't account for competing sports entertainment in each country and to do so would be a bit chaotic. A first impulse might be to measure the competing influence of college football. I'd wager however if we were to compare our 20 some-odd university teams and attendance numbers to their 200 (including all those lowly division III programs) some-odd university teams and attendance numbers with respect to population we might be surprised at what we find.

I'm a Redskins fan (for lack of a better term) and I'll defend Snyder somewhat; I think he WANTS to win, but he's so inept at it that you can't tell.

If I bust all your ribs trying to give you the Heimlich, doesn't mean I tried to kill you. :wink: Quite the opposite!

That said...There are a LOT of empty seats in NFL stadiums. I would also like to compare actual attendance numbers, no paid-for-but-never-used ticket total. I know the money's still good, but I'm interested to know about those who actually are fan enough to show up "no matter what".

Hard to argue against solid number crunching.

How on earth can you compare a countries population to it's attendance at a cities football
Just think about it. It doesn't make any sense at all, - for instance Green Bay has a population of 100,000 people, the metro area of Green Bay in 160,000 population. Their fans come from Milwaukee 200km away.

Sports teams and their fan base is based upon how many fans that live within a one hour drive to the stadium. It's obvious that in Green Bay like in Saskatchewan there are not that many people that live within an hours drive of the stadiums. This has absolutely nothing to do with a countries population size!!
There are close to 6 MILLION people that live within a one hour drive to the RC yet the Argos attract 20 to 23k???
What does this have to do with Canada's population?
There are also close to 7 million people that live within an hour drive of Hamilton, yet the Ticats averaged 23k two years ago. The metro population in the Toronto/Hamilton region is bigger than most NFL cities!!! You can look at the list - metro Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Cinci, etc the list goes on all smaller than the GTA in size and most not as rich either.

If you came out and compared Saskatchewan to say the Giants/Jets and said per capita their is more then you might be able to make a point. But your argument falls flat when you talk about the Toronto/Hamilton GTA region with 6 to 8 million people within an hour and start comparing professional football attendance with the smaller NFL
Can we just have a serious comparison? use some common sense and stop making up excuses for poor attendance at some CFL cities!!

Thanks mikem,

You never fail to disappoint. I in fact DID not compare city to city. Or city to country. I simply compared country to country. Do you understand?

Yes focusing on market to market comparisons show's relative interest in a given city. That does not take away from the point I made that on a whole as a country, the same proportion of Canadians attend live pro football as Americans do. The numbers add up the way they do.

Your habitual ridiculing attitude to sound arguments made against your "gut premonitions" does nothing to change that. The point wasn't a team to team.. market to market comparison. Every poster on here knows the Argos could and should do twice their attendance. Every poster knows Green Bay is a marvel for drawing their attendance numbers in their sparsely populated market.

The point was a national comparison which is completely valid.

Actually, mikem makes a valid point. It's another limiting factor, just as important as the two I mentioned earlier. Including total national populations is not a valid assumption, as not all of those people would be able to attend a football game. Instead, mikem's suggestion (or a variation on it) of using the number of people within a one or two hour radius of a stadium as the basis for the possible attendees would be more appropriate. It would be interesting to see what that does to the ratios. No double counting, though, for stadiums with overlapping areas (e.g. Toronto / Hamilton, New York / New York, Green Bay / Minnesota, Calgary / Edmonton).

Ok.. Point taken

If we limited the drawing power to the football markets, it would be interesting to see how that impacts the number. Some sparsely populated NFL markets draw really well as do the Roughriders. While Toronto fares poorly, we'd have the entire Atlantic Canadian region struck from the comparison while the US would have LA's metro area extricated.

Pursuant to mikem and Catsfaninottawa's critique of the numbers above, I've used the ridiculously large amount of free time bestowed on me from work to compile a summation of regular season attendance levels verses league wide NFL and CFL metro areas.

A couple notes:

  1. The metro areas of New York and San Fransisco-Oakland were summed once or credited 0.5 to each team in that area.
  2. Teams playing an appreciable distance from a major metro (e.g. Green Bay) area were paired with the closest reasonable metro area. I attached Hamilton's Guelph season to the Hamilton metro area as an appreciable amount of fans did still come from Hamilton.

Total League-wide Regular Season Attendance:
CFL: 1,944,349
NFL: 17,494,680

Total Pertinent Metro Area Population:
CFL: 15,756,948
NFL: 123,506,751

Percentage of Metro Area Population Attending:
CFL: 12.34%
NFL: 14.16%

It's a bit onerous to try to do a "1 hour drive" convention as mentioned by mikem.. I figured a nearby metro area sum would be a close estimate. This measure puts the NFL ahead of the CFL. Arguments could also be fashioned and verified that the NFL draws more per paying customer in addition to this slight advantage in proportion attending. The addition of Ottawa with Hamilton returning to regular attendance levels should bump the CFL's proportion to around 13.5% next year.

I imagine this is still a lot closer than the Kool-Aid drinking crowd might initially think.

Data (Excuse the Formatting):

Team Aveage Attendance Annual Attendance Metro Area
Dallas 88,043 704344 6,700,991
NY Giants 80,148 641184 9,915,929
Green Bay 77,947 623576 1,566,981
Washington 77,220 617760 5,703,948
NY Jets 76,957 615656 9,915,929
Denver 76,872 614976 2,900,000
Kansas City 75,359 602872 1,519,417
Carolina 73,443 587544 2,296,569
New Orleans 72,901 583208 1,167,764
Houston 71,658 573264 6,177,035
Cleveland 71,242 569936 2,068,283
Baltimore 71,135 569080 2,690,886
Atlanta 70,224 561792 5,457,831
San Francisco 69,732 557856 2,167,696
Philadelphia 69,144 553152 6,018,800
Tennessee 69,143 553144 1,589,934
New England 68,756 550048 4,590,000
Seattle 68,197 545576 3,905,026
Buffalo 66,267 530136 1,134,210
Indianapolis 65,950 527600 1,756,241
Miami 64,319 514552 5,564,635
San Diego 64,205 513640 3,095,313
Minnesota 64,019 512152 3,422,264
Detroit 63,796 510368 4,292,060
Cincinnati 63,297 506376 2,130,151
Chicago 62,358 498864 9,522,434
Arizona 61,033 488264 4,263,236
Jacksonville 59,940 479520 1,360,251
Tampa Bay 58,818 470544 2,824,724
Pittsburgh 57,311 458488 2,824,724
St. Louis 56,957 455656 2,795,794
Oakland 50,444 403552 2,167,696

Team Aveage Attendance Annual Attendance Metro Area
BC 28311 254797 2,313,328
Calgary 29263 263366 1,214,839
Edmonton 32096 288863 1,159,869
Hamilton 13298 119683 721,053
Montreal 23005 207042 3,824,221
Saskatchewan 37503 337527 210,556
Toronto 21926 197337 5,583,064
Winnipeg 30637 275734 730,018

I did pretty much the same thing, although I found slightly higher metro populations on Wikipedia - 134,627,364 for NFL, and 16,993,272 for CFL. This gave13.0% population for NFL and 11.4% for CFL.

As you say, not nearly as big a difference as some people might expect.