Bucs' 2016 attendance down, but only slightly
Despite improving to 9-7 for their first winning season in six years, the Bucs saw their home attendance drop slightly in 2016, but only by about 2 percent from last year's six-year high.
The Bucs averaged 60,624 in announced attendance at eight home games, down 1.5 percent from last year's 61,560, dropping from 26th to 28th out of 32 NFL teams. Tampa Bay's actual attendance -- which reflects a turnstile count, rather than just tickets distributed -- went from 54,378 last year to 53,176, accorrding to the Tampa Sports Authority, a 2.2 percent drop.
The announced attendance remains the second-highest since 2009 behind only last season, when attendance rose for the third straight year after the Bucs used the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft on FSU quarterback Jameis Winston. This year's drop is relatively minimal, considering the Bucs announced last spring that they were raising ticket prices for the first time in eight years, by an average of 24 percent.
Winning, of course, helps as much as anything -- the four smallest home crowds of 2016 were the first four, as the Bucs opened 0-4 at home, with larger crowds for the Bucs' four final home games, which were all victories.
If the team can continue its upward trend in the standings -- from 2-14 in 2014 to 6-10 last year to 9-7 and just missing the playoffs -- next year's attendance could see a spike, with high-interest teams like the Patriots, Giants, Jets and Bears among the home opponents.