Attendance away from home, Pt. 2

I looked over the 2012 NLL attendance stats yesterday and decided that the Bandits were the biggest draw in the league. I explained why and described the method I used to come up with that conclusion. I also said that my conclusion was wrong. Well, kind of. As it turns out, my conclusion was right but (a) the method I used was slightly flawed, and (b) there are really too few games to make a definite conclusion. Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

I will describe the flaw in my reasoning by way of an example using made up numbers. Let’s use the same example as before – Toronto playing in Colorado and Buffalo, and Rochester playing in Minnesota and Washington, and we want to find out which team (of Toronto and Rochester) had the biggest impact on attendance. Let’s say for simplicity that each game’s attendance is 500 higher than the average attendance for that arena. Using the previously described method, the average draw for both Toronto and Rochester would be 500, and so we’d conclude that they have roughly the same impact on attendance. This is false.

The reason that it’s false is this: bringing in an extra 500 people to a game in Colorado is not as big a deal as bringing in an extra 500 people to a game in Washington. Colorado’s average home attendance is 14626, so an extra 500 people would increase attendance by 3.42%. But Washington’s average is only 4017, so an extra 500 people means a 12.45% increase. Rochester’s presence in Washington had four times the effect on attendance than Toronto’s presence in Colorado. Once again, we need to factor out the average attendance by using the draw percentage rather than the draw. In this case, the draw percentage for Toronto was 3.42% in Colorado and 3.26% in Buffalo while the draw percentage for Rochester was 12.45% in Washington and 6.38% in Minnesota. Toronto’s average draw percentage was 3.35% while Rochester’s was 9.42%. While our previous calculation showed no difference in the draw numbers, in actual fact Rochester had about three times the impact on attendance than Toronto did.

Let’s add the draw percentage to our previous table. Note also that the attendance for the Minnesota @ Washington game from Feb. 24 was not included in the game sheet until today. This affects Washington’s home average attendance, and therefore the draw numbers for teams that have played there (Calgary, Edmonton, and Minnesota). I’ve updated the numbers from the previous article.

Team Away Games Average Draw Average Draw Percentage
Buffalo Bandits 3 961 13.6%
Colorado Mammoth 4 920 10.9%
Rochester Knighthawks 6 279 2.4%
Calgary Roughnecks 4 84 1.1%
Toronto Rock 3 -50 -2.6%
Edmonton Rush 4 -330 -2.9%
Washington Stealth 4 -525 -5.7%
Philadelphia Wings 3 -627 -6.1%
Minnesota Swarm 4 -780 -11.0%

Despite the flaw in my logic, the ordering remains the same, and therefore the conclusion remains the same: the Bandits are the winners. Or so it looks.

As I briefly mentioned before, the biggest problem with this whole scheme is sample size. Buffalo has the highest draw percentage, but this is only based on three games. One of those games was in Rochester, which is close enough to Buffalo that many of the fans in the Rochester arena actually drove from Buffalo. Indeed, the draw percentage for that game alone is 38.3%, while the draw percentages for the other Buffalo away games were 5.0 and –2.6 in Philadelphia. That one game skewed Buffalo’s draw percentage to the top of the heap, while Colorado has positive draw percentages (10.0%, 15.0%, 15.2%, and 3.4%) in all four of their away games, so you could also argue that Colorado is really the biggest draw.

If I were to take the attendance numbers for the past five years and calculate the draw percentage, then perhaps the numbers would be meaningful but half a season’s worth of data is just not enough.


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