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Tom Jones' Two Cents

Sports analysis, perspective and more.

Most and least supportive fans



cavs.The Cavaliers lost superstar LeBron James. They own the worst record in the NBA at 10-47. They recently lost 26 games in a row to tie the 1976-77 Bucs for the longest streak in modern-day North American professional sports. But their fans might be the best in the NBA. The Cavaliers are playing to 98.5 percent capacity, which is more than 20,000 fans a game. It's easy to support a winner, but fans of the Cavs are still cheering what could be the worst team in all of sports. That makes the Cavs fans, arguably, the most dedicated and supportive sports fans in the land.

You can't blame fans for not supporting losing teams, and you expect fans to show up for good teams. The true test? Fans who flock to see bad teams or don't show up to watch good ones. With that in mind, here's a look at some attendance figures to determine which fans we consider the most and least supportive right now.

Major League Baseball
Most supportive: It has become nearly impossible to get Red Sox tickets, especially since the team won the 2004 World Series. Despite the team suffering a rash of injuries and missing the playoffs last year, Red Sox Nation still filled up Fenway Park. The Sox drew an average crowd of 37,619 (100.9 percent capacity). Cubs fans also should be praised as the team played to 92 percent capacity despite a losing season. Because Wrigley Field holds more than Fenway, the Cubs actually drew more fans, 37,814 a game.
rays.Least supportive: Tampa Bay fans set records for watching the Rays on television, but the criticism fans get for not showing up at Tropicana Field is deserved. Blame the economy, blame stadium location, blame whatever you want. Bottom line: The Rays had the second-best record in baseball last season but played to only 52 percent capacity. The other teams that played to less than 60 percent capacity last season were the Marlins, Mariners, Nationals, Royals, Pirates, Diamondbacks, Orioles, Indians, A’s and Blue Jays. Of those teams, only one had a winning record. And that was the Blue Jays, who finished fourth in the American League East. It also included all six of the majors' last-place teams.

National Basketball Association
Most supportive: After the loss of All-Star LeBron James, it seems as if the Cavaliers fans have defiantly rallied behind the team to show they don't need no stinkin' LeBron. The team is going to go down as one of the worst in NBA history but still is drawing 20,257 per game, third best in the NBA.
Least supportive: The city of Atlanta often is criticized for not showing passion for local teams. Rumors are swirling that the NHL's Thrashers might not last much longer in Atlanta. And the NBA's Hawks are struggling with attendance. They are 11 games over .500 and heading toward the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season. Still, they are playing to only 78 percent capacity and just an average of 14,613 fans.

cowboys.National Football League
Most supportive: The Cowboys built the swankiest stadium in sports, and fans showed up in droves even though the team was crummy for most of the season. The Cowboys went 6-10 but played before an NFL-leading 87,047 per game. That was 108.8 percent capacity, the highest in all of pro sports over the past year.
Least supportive: Sorry, locals, but again, you have to look at Tampa Bay. The team had a sensational turnaround, going from 3-13 in 2009 to 10-6 last season. Yet all home games were blacked out, meaning the team didn't sell out once. The Bucs officially played to only 75.1 percent capacity. But it often looked as if the stadium was way more than a quarter empty.

National Hockey League
Most supportive: There's a reason Toronto is considered the epicenter of hockey. It loves even bad hockey. The Maple Leafs have missed the playoffs all five seasons since the 2004-05 lockout and likely will miss them again this season. Still, the Maple Leafs have played to 102.7 percent capacity. The Blackhawks are struggling to get into the playoffs yet are playing to 108.3 percent capacity in the cavernous United Center. Then again, the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup last season, so interest should be high.
Least supportive: Are we seeing a theme here? Numbers don't lie, and the Lightning is playing to only 85.1 percent capacity even though it is one of the best and most surprising teams of the season. This recent 12-game homestand, tied for the longest in NHL history, didn't do the team any favors. It's hard for fans to spend that kind of money when the games are packed this close together. Still, the Lightning ranks 23rd in attendance capacity and 20th in average attendance.

[Last modified: Friday, February 25, 2011 9:54am]


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