The 12 major league teams running out of fans

Sports teams often go through sharp swings in popularity. Attendance rises and falls. This frequently has to do with how well a team performs. When teams do well, people outside of their primary fan base become interested and start going to games. An example of this is the Florida Marlins, who won the world series in 2003 and saw attendance rise 60 percent in a single year. Alternatively, teams who do poorly also win new fans.

Attendance for the four major league sports – NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL – remained relatively flat from 2001 to 2010. The total fan increase for all NHL teams – the best performer of the four – was only 2.59 percent. The weakest, the NFL, only grew .49 percent.

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The 12 major-league sports teams running out of fans

Despite the relatively anemic growth overall, some teams have done extraordinarily well drawing fans. MLB teams such as Los Angeles and Minnesota saw crowds increase more than 50 percent, while Philadelphia’s attendance doubled. NFL teams such as Arizona, Atlanta, and Dallas jumped more than 25 percent.

Using records provided by ESPN, 24/7 Wall St. examined changes in attendance for the four major league sports from 2001 to 2010 to identify the twelve teams that decreased more than 20 percent. The majority of these teams have performed poorly in recent years, causing fans to lose interest. The win-lose record and number of championships is included after the jumps to reflect the former and current state of each team.

These are the 12 sports franchises losing the most fans.

12. Oakland Raiders
Decrease in attendance: 21.32 percent
2001 W-L record: 10-6 (finished 1st in AFC West)
2010 W-L record: 8-8 (finished 3rd in AFC West)
League championships last decade: none
More on the Raiders’ decline

11. Columbus Blue Jackets
Decrease in attendance: 21.76 percent
2001 W-L record: 28–39–9–6 (finished 5th in Central Division)
2010 W-L record: 32-35-15 (finished 5th in Central Division)
League championships last decade: none
More on the Blue Jackets’ decline

10. Indiana Pacers
Decrease in attendance: 24.32 percent
2001 W-L record: 41-41 (finished 8th in Eastern Conference)
2010 W-L record: 32-50 (finished 10th in Eastern Conference)
League championships last decade: none
More on the Pacers’ decline

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Decrease in attendance: 24.78 percent
2001 W-L record: 9-7 (finished 3rd in NFC Central Division)
2010 W-L record: 10-6 (finished 3rd in NFC South Division)
League championships last decade: won Super Bowl XXXVII in 2002
More on the Bucs’ decline

8. Philadelphia 76ers
Decrease in attendance: 24.94 percent
2001 W-L record: 56-26 (finished 1st in the Eastern Conference)
2010 W-L record: 27-55 (finished 13th in the Eastern Conference)
League championships last decade: none
More on the 76ers’ decline

A general view of Raymond James Stadium during the season opener between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Detroit Lions on Sept. 11, 2011 in Tampa, Fla.
(Getty Images)

7. Arizona Diamondbacks
Decrease in attendance: 25.05 percent
92-70 (finished 1st in NL West)
2010 W-L record: 65-97 (finished 5th in NL West)
League championships last decade: won World Series in 2001
More on the Diamondbacks’ decline

6. Detroit Lions
Decrease in attendance: 25.18 percent
2001 W-L record: 2-14 (finished 5th in NFC Central Division)
2010 W-L record: 6-10 (finished 3rd in NFC North Division)
League championships last decade: none
More on the Lions’ decline

5. Oakland Athletics
Decrease in attendance: 33.51 percent
2001 W-L record: 102-60 (finished 2nd in AL West)
2010 W-L record: 81-81 (finished 2nd in AL West)
League championships last decade: none
More on the A’s decline

4. Pittsburgh Pirates
Decrease in attendance: 33.78 percent
2001 W-L record: 62-100 (finished 6th in NL Central)
2010 W-L record: 57-105 (finished 6th in NL Central)
League championships last decade: none
More on the Pirates’ decline

3. Seattle Mariners
Decrease in attendance: 40.54 percent
2001 W-L record: 116-46 (finished 1st in AL West)
2010 W-L record: 61-101 (finished 4th in AL West)
League championships last decade: none
More on the Mariners’ decline

2. Baltimore Orioles
Decrease in attendance: 44.00 percent
2001 W-L record: 63-98 (finished 4th in AL East)
2010 W-L record: 66-96 (finished 5th in AL East)
League championships last decade: none
More on the Orioles’ decline

1. Cleveland Indians
Decrease in attendance: 56.08 percent
2000 W-L record: 91-71 (finished 1st in AL Central)
2010 W-L record: 69-93 (finished 4th in AL Central)
League championships last decade: none
More on the Indians’ decline

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Updated Thursday, Sep 15, 2011