Photo by Jonathan Bachman
Seeing as how we're just over a quarter of the way through the season, it seemed like as good a time as any to start comparing how this year's Hornets' team compares to last year's squad. And, seeing as how at this point last year all the talk was about how the Hornets couldn't draw a crowd, we're going to start with attendance numbers.
Remember when people couldn't stop talking about the Hornets attendance woes? Through 11 games last season, the Hornets drew a dismal average of just 11,277 fans per game. Taking into account that New Orleans Arena has a capacity of 17,188 for Hornets games, that meant the Hive was just 66% full on average – not even 3/4 capacity.
Yea ... that's totally not the case this season.
Through their first 11 games this season (not including tonight's matchup against the Sacramento Kings), the Hornets have averaged a much more respectable 16,610 fans per game, including two sellouts. That means the Hive has averaged 97% capacity. Amazing how things can change in just a year.
Other numbers of note that show just how far the Hornets have come in terms of attendance (all numbers are through the first 11 games of this season and last season):
- The Hornets drew less than 10,000 fans three times in the first quarter of last season. The Hornets lowest attendance so far this season? 15,533.
- Conversely, the Hornets drew more than 15,000 fans just twice in their first 11 home games last season, during their season opener October 31st (attendance: 15,188) and 10 days later against the San Antonio Spurs (attendance: 15,297). Meaning that their biggest draw in the first quarter of last season was 236 fans less than their smallest attendance this season.
- Last season, the Hornets' attendance suffered the most during weekday games (games played on Monday through Thursday). The team drew an average of just 10,924 fans in six such games. Weekend games (played Friday through Sunday) were somewhat better as the Hornets averaged 11,699 fans in the first five weekend games of last season.
- This year, it doesn't seem to matter when the Hornets play. New Orleans is averaging 16,325 fans in weekday games this year and 16,953 in weekend games.
- Who the Hornets played last season had a significant effect on their attendance. The Hornets averaged just 10,638 fans against teams with sub-.500 records. That number went up to 12,393 against teams with better than .500 records. The difference isn't that much, but it does suggest that more people were coming to games to see the visiting team.
- This year, it doesn't matter who the Hornets play as their attendance average for games against teams with a plus-.500 record (16,815) is nearly equal to the number of fans coming to games against teams with sub-.500 records (16,366). These numbers suggest that the Hornets are a draw in themselves and whether they're playing San Antonio or Oklahoma City, fans still show.