"At the end of the day, boys, you don't tell me how rough the water is, you bring in the ship." – Steve Stone
A Goat Riders Affiliate
Go Cubs!

Wrigley Rooftop Directory
Ryne Sandberg Fan Page
The Cubdom Photo Gallery
The Cubs Prayer
Cubs Calendar
Jim Hendry Page
Cubs Ownership History
Baseball Business Essays
TheCubdom Hall of Cubs


Recent Blog Updates

Editor's Pick:

Goat Riders of the Apocalypse
Bleed Cubbie Blue
Desipio Media Ventures
Hire Jim Essian!
Cub Reporter
Ivy Chat
Cub Town
Ghost of Paul Noce
The Cubdom
Thunder Matt's Saloon
View From the Bleachers
Cubby-Blue
WGN-TV Baseball Blog

Honorable Mention:

A Hundred Next Years
A League of Her Own
Agony and Ivy
Bad News Cubs
Baseball Diamond News
Boys of Spring
Bush League Times
Chicago Cubs Baseball
Chicago Cubs Blog
Chicago Cubs Online
Church of Baseball
Clark & Addison blog
College of Idiots
Cubs f/x
Cubs Hot Stove
Cubs Hub
CubsNet.com
Cubs Obsession
Five Outs to go
Gonfalon Cubs
Kosuke Fukodome
Lollygaggers
Out of Right Field
The Cubs Brickyard
The Other Fifteen
The Ted Lilly Fan Club
Temporary Bleachers
TheCubsfan.com
Wrigleyville23

Newbies:

Cubbie Nation
Holy Cow Bell
Ivy Envy
Towel Drills
Turning Two
Wasting away in Wrigleyville

Soldiering On:

Die-hard Cubs Fun
Fire Dusty Baker
Northside Lounge
Peoria Northsider Report
Yarbage Cub Review

Cubs Sites:

Desipio Boards
North Side Baseball
Cubscast.com
Inside the Ivy
The Heckler
My Wrigleyville

Just Read 'em!

Baseball Analysts
Baseball Musings
Baseball Prospectus
Baseball Think Factory
Hardball Times

Conglomerates

Baseball Toaster
Most Valuable Network
SportsBlog Nation

NL Central

Brew Crew Ball MIL
Bucs Dugout PIT
Crawfish Boxes HOU
Get Up Baby STL
Honest Wagner PIT
Red Hot Mama CIN
Red Reporter CIN
Viva El Birdos STL

NL East

Amazin Avenue NYM
Citizens Blog PHI
Federal Baseball WAS
Fish Stripes FLA
The Good Phight PHI
Sabernomics ATL

NL West

6-4-2 LAD, LAA
AZ Snake Pit AZ
Dodger Thoughts LAD
Ducksnorts SD
Gas Lamp Ball SD
McCovey Chronicles SF
Only Baseball Matters SF
Purple Row COL

AL East

Batters Box TOR
Bronx Banter NYY
Camden Chat BAL
DRays Bay TB
Futility Infielder NYY
Joy of Sox BOS
Over the Monster BOS
Pinstripe Alley NYY
Replacement Level Yankees Weblog NYY

AL Central

Aaron's Baseball Blog MIN
Bless You Boys DET
Let's Go Tribe CLE
Royals Review KC
South Side Sox CHW
Sox Machine CHW
Tiger Blog DET
Twins Geek MIN

AL West

Athletics Nation OAK
Halo's Heaven LAA
Lone Star Ball TEX
Lookout Landing SEA
USS Mariner SEA

Miscellany

Beyond the Boxscore
Minor League Ball

Chicago Sports

Blog-A-Bull
Section 8 Fire
Windy City Gridiron Bears

News Sources

Chicagosports.com
Cubs.com
MLB.com
Sun-Times Cubs
Daily Herald Sports
Daily Southtown Sports
BaseballReference.com

Beyond the Ivy - A Cubs Rooftop Partner

MLB Road Trip: Quantifying the visiting fan

Monday, June 13, 2005

As you know, the Red Sox and their legions of fans showed up at Wrigley Field this weekend. Like Cubs fans, Red Sox fans are known for traveling with their team to support their favorite players in hostile territory.

Although I wasn't in attendance at any of the games, quotes from bloggers who attended were pretty similar to this one:

"Where on Earth did all these Red Sox fans come from? I know they won the World Series and all, but there were probably more of them at the Yard today than there are Cardinal fans when the Redbirds come up from St. Louis... These people must have been the ones buying all the tickets at premium prices that Cub fans wouldn't buy." — Al Yellon, Bleed Cubbie Blue

All this got me thinking about a method to quantitatively estimate the number of visiting fans at a ballgame. What I have come up with, I will call Marginal Road Fans. The method to find the number of Marginal Road Fans a visiting team brings with them is a rough estimate, but it starts by summing up the announced attendance for a road series against a particular 'home opponent', counting the number of games played, and determining the average attendance at that series. For an illustration, I'll use the Cubs (visiting team) road series against the Diamondbacks (home opponent).

  • The Cubs opened the season with three games in Arizona. The total attendance for that series was 102,588. Therefore, the series average was 34,196.

After finding the attendance for the road series, and any other visits your ball club made to the home opponent in question, you have to find out what the total attendance for the home opponent has been this year, and how many games they have played at home.

  • The Diamondbacks have drawn 830,859 in 32 home dates (through Saturday Night)

You then subtract the total attendance for the road series from the home opponent's total attendance and divide by the number of home dates minus the number of games the visiting team has played there. This will give you the average attendance at the home opponents stadium in games where your team was not playing.

  • (Total Attendance - Road Series) / (Home Games - # of Series Games)
    (830,859 - 102,588) / (32 - 3) = 25,113

Finally, you subtract the series average from the modified average to find the differential in the number of fans attending the series versus what would have otherwise been expected. Then, multiply the differential by the number of games in the series to find the total Marginal Road Fans.

  • 34,196 - 25,113 = 9,083 * 3 = 27,249

You can then interpret this to mean that when the Cubs played the Diamondbacks in April, 27,249 more fans came to watch the series than would have come if an 'average' (average is a composite of all the Diamondback's other home opponents) team had been playing.

Below are my results for both the Cubs and the Red Sox.

Cubs Road Attendance:

Home Opponent
Games Played
Total Attendance
Cubs Road Attendance
Non-Cubs Avg
Cubs Avg
Per Game Differential
Marginal Fans
D-backs
3
830,859
102,588
25,113
34,196
9,083
27,249
Pirates
5
694,550
125,298
21,894
25,060
3,166
15,830
Reds
2
770,241
50,722
23,210
25,361
2,151
4,302
Cardinals
2
1,267,970
90,974
40,586
45,487
4,901
9,802
Astros
3
959,464
120,861
32,254
40,287
8,033
24,099
Brewers
3
688,571
87,192
23,130
29,064
5,934
17,802
Nationals
3
976,833
123,517
30,475
41,172
10,697
32,091
Dodgers
3
1,527,049
135,569
44,886
45,190
304
912
Padres
4
1,052,121
155,762
33,198
38,941
5,743
22,972
TOTAL
28
 
992,483
 
36,084
5556
155059

Red Sox Road Attendance

Home Opponent
Games Played
Total Attendance
Red Sox Road Attendance
Non-Red Sox Avg
Red Sox Avg
Per game Differential
Marginal Fans
Yankees
6
1,356,284
330,274
44,609
55,046
10,437
62,622
Blue Jays
6
615,080
185,926
21,458
30,988
9,530
57,180
Orioles
2
920,466
76,897
29,088
38,449
9,361
18,722
Devil Rays
3
404,551
93,986
11,502
31,329
19,827
59,481
Rangers
3
896,088
137,389
29,181
45,796
16,615
49,845
Detroit
4
638,278
84,783
21,288
21,196
-92
-368
Seattle
3
977,697
136,908
32,338
45,636
13,298
39,894
Oakland
3
659,995
102,480
22,301
34,160
11,859
35,577
St. Louis
3
1,267,970
144,694
40,117
48,231
8,114
24,342
TOTAL
33
 
1,293,337
 
38,981
10994
347,295

As you can see, the Red Sox' Marginal Road Fans are nearly twice that of the Cubs. On an average road game, the Red Sox have played in front of 38,981, which is 10,994 fans more than would be expected if a league average team had come to play. (Similar in some respects to VORP).

The Cubs on the other hand have played in front of 36,084 fans during their average road game, but that is 'only' 5,556 more fans than would have been expected.


Weaknesses of the Marginal Road Fans Method

This method of determining the number of fans a road team brings with them is flawed in many ways. Two of the most obvious limitations are that the method does not account for the day of the week on which the series is played, and it does not take into account stadium capacity restraints.

Day of the Week: For most baseball teams, there is a significant difference in the number of fans which attend during the week, and those that attend on the weekends. Therefore, if a series is played during the middle of the week, when home attendance is down by 5,000, then the road team would have to have 5,000 marginal road fans before actually registering any in our count. However, this deficiency can be dismissed if road games were evenly distributed among the days of the week, and all home teams had the same difference between weekend and weekday fans. Of course though, this isn't the case. But, the alternative of trying to use the day of the week extends already tedious calculations into a nightmare, and virtually ensures small sample sizes that distort the method.

Capacity Limitations: The capacity of a stadium tends to distort the Marginal Road Fans attendance method. When the attendance capacity is reached, rather than increasing the number of tickets sold, ticket prices increase. A perfect example of this is the recently concluded Cubs vs. Red Sox series. When Red Sox nation descended upon Wrigley (which has been filled to 97.6% capacity this year), the number in attendance didn't increase so much as the Red Sox fans paid increased prices to purchase seats from Cubs fans.

  • The 3 game series had an announced attendance of 117,449, for an average of 39,149. The Cubs have averaged 38,635 for their other 29 games, creating a differential of 514 fans per game and 1,542 Marginal Road Fans over the three days.

Watching the games on TV, it was pretty obvious that there were plenty more than 1,542 more Red Sox fans than a typical visiting team would bring over a three game series. So, the common sense test is strained quite a bit... but I do believe that the Marginal Road Fans method is a great start to quantifying the number of road fans.

So, thats my theory, warts and all. I'd love to hear any comments and ideas on a better way to quantify road attendance.

Posted by Byron at June 13, 2005 6:09 PM | Bookmark and Share | BallHype: hype it up!
Subscribe to The Cubdom - get emails with the latest Cubs info and pictures

This post has been tagged:

9 Comments

I don't know if this is a weakness or not, but...

Yes, this is a great idea, but not all of these people are Red Sox fans. A great number come out to see their team to play the Red Sox. It doesn't mean tht they're Red Sox fans. Are you more excited (read: want to go to a game more) when the Cardinals are in town or the Rockies?

Methinks dividing everything in half would give an accurate show as to how many are in fact, Red Sox fans.

Good point Evan, maybe I should think about redefining exactly what the marginal fan is...

A possible solution to your caveats...

A day-of-the-week index. If you can get the data ito an excel format, you could get each day's attendence versus the average daily attendence. This would be a multiplicative factor that goes into the equation. However, the calculation to get these indexes may be, as you said, tedious. At that point the solution, in my experience, is always: "hire a grad student."

There's also the matter that I don't think much of the marginal fan attendance is actually fans travelling with the team, but fans of the away team showing who live in the area showing up for the game. For example, we had a bunch of people from Cleveland at my old office, and they would always show up at Anaheim Stadium when the Indians were in town.

Also... I know this is partially factored into the averages, but it matters when these games are played as well... for example the D-Backs played the Cubs in their home opener, of course those games are going to have a higher attendance.

Also, if a team goes into Cincinnati and Cleveland and Detroit and Pittsburgh in April or early May, nobody is going to those games, maybe that makes the marginal fans higher since there's a lower total of overall fans and more tickets available for marginal fans to buy. I just don't see anybody traveling to those cities to sit in potentially cold weather.

Also, it's easy to notice the bump in the Red Sox road attendance against Tampa Bay, it's also easy to explain (the Rangers are another story). It's not because the Red Sox fans are traveling, it's because they never left. I think you'll notice a similar trend with any team that plays Florida, the Devil Rays and the D'backs... if they're a Grapefruit League team they'll see a bump in the former... a Cactus League team will see a bump in the latter. Especially in Florida, you're a fan of whatever team plays closest to you, whether that's Boston, the Yankees or the Cardinals...

Relocated franchises will see a similar result, for example when the Dodgers or Giants visit New York.

Another thing that could give some answers to the capacity limitations could be looking at the percentage of tickets available to marginal fans. Take the non-Cubs average and subtract it from the overall capacity. That would be the number of tickets available to Cubs fans to buy. For the Crosstown classic, we could look at what percentage of available tickets did the White Sox buy and what percentage of tickets did Cubs fans buy for the games in two weeks at Comiskey.

That might give more insight to the Cubs' low numbers against the Dodgers, for example... How many marginal tickets did they leave in comparison to other teams and what percentage of the marginal tickets available did they buy compared to other teams?

A column for sellouts might be helpful to see, like Evan said, what road opponents home team fans want to come out and see their teams play and what road opponent's traveling team went all out and sold out the game.

Jason... here's the new Cubdom tagline.

Byron Clarke.... Grad Student of the CBA.

Byron... I could be wrong... but I think you're missing a break somewhere on your right side between Archive Index and about the Cubdom.

Byron -

To avoid sample size issues for a day-of-the-week index, I would think that looking at all the ballparks for each day would be the best bet. For Monday, sum up the total attendence, same for tuesdays, etc. And then that can be used against the baseline of average attendence.

As far as the ballpark capacity, I don't know what you do what that. Not much, I'm guessing.

and btw, very nice work. I look forward to version 2.0

By the end of the season I would think most of these factors would balance out. Another twist on the "when" angle is that a team that gets hot will draw more than teams that are out of it. If we went back to Arizona now then the figures could dramatically increase due to the dramatic improvement of the D'Backs. One could check this by comparing avg attendance per month as the season progresses. Teams traveling to Arizona in September will do well in attenance if the D'Backs are still vying for the playoffs.

Leave a comment


AddThis Feed Button

Get The Cubdom email updates


Search

Google
Web
TheCubdom.com

eXTReMe Tracker
Since Mar 18, 2004

Recent Entries


Monthly Archives



Cubs Sale Articles

© 2004 – 2012 Cubdom LLC
legal - about thecubdom.com - site index