USA Today reports NFL attendance to drop for third consecutive season; to lowest average since 1998

“The U.S. economic recession that’s left nearly 15 million Americans out of work is taking its toll on NFL ticket sales for the upcoming 2010 season,” sports business writer Michael McCarthy reports in a USA Today story.

“The NFL expects overall attendance to drop for the third straight season,” McCarthy writes citing an interview with Eric Grubman, executive vice president of NFL Ventures and Business Operations. “The league expects average game attendance to drop for the third straight season, falling to its lowest levels since the 1998 season. Grubman predicted overall ticket sales for the league’s 32 franchises will drop 1% to 2% this season. Total season ticket sales will be down even more, about 5%, he predicted.”

Said Grubman: “We know some of our fans are struggling. We don’t need to see the statistics. We know people who buy our tickets are having trouble making ends meet. Some of them are having trouble finding jobs. That works its way into the equation.”

“The 3-year attendance drop coincides with the country’s worst economic climate and labor market since the Great Depression,” McCarthy adds. “The NFL posted a record high of 17.4 million in ticket sales, and 67,755 in average game attendance, for the 2007 season, when the recession began. But the numbers have declined every season since that high-water mark. Last season, NFL ticket sales dropped 2.4% to 16.7 million, while average game attendance also slid 2.4% to 65,043.”

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