I heard recently that Green Bay has the most loyal football fans, since it's the smallest city with an NFL team, yet manages to have great turnout all year, every year. Let's not take someone else's word for it. Today, You Do The Math.
Let's see how the biggest NFL city compares to the smallest. Using statistics from the Census Bureau for 2007, the greater NY City area, known as a Metropolitan Statistical Area, had a population of almost nineteen million. We can see that it's 80 miles as the crow flies, from the city of Middle Island, Long Island, to the bottom, left corner of the map. The numbers also add up to an 80 mile drive from Middle Island to Giants Stadium in New Jersey at Route 3 and I-95.
The same Census sats show that Green Bay had just over 300,000 residents. Looking at Green Bay on this map we see it's a mere 10 miles across:
The nearest town of Appleton is about a 30 mile drive or more for fans, so that should be included in the MSA. Manitowoc is about a 45 mile drive, while Oshkosh is about a 55 miles drive, depending on what part of town you live in. Why include Appleton? Just to make things easy. The Cincinnati MSA includes Middle Town, about a 35 mile drive to the Bengals stadium.
The Philadelphia MSA includes Trenton, New Jersey and Wilmington, Delaware, and all the rest of the yellow in this map. The drive would be around 35 miles from these "suburbs" of Philadelphia:
The Dallas - Fort Worth area is just under a 60 mile drive along Interstate 30, and the Cowboys stadium is at exit 28, pretty much in the center of all that. For most fans, it's also about a 35 miles drive. However, we're talking a 40, 50 and 60 mile drive from the suburbs of Plano, Allen and McKinney. That's a little unfair, compared to the 35 miles that Packers, Phillies and Bengals fans have to drive.
However, people in Texas are used to driving a lot. For instance, it's 25 miles to get gas for some people. I know, I've run out of gas twice in Texas, and relied on help from kind folks so I could avoid a 50 mile hike, round trip. Red state people are cool.
So, if you do the math, who has the greatest fans? Well, the Cowboys, of course. Not just because the stadium held almost 96,000 fans for the Giants game, not just because of the extra 60 miles of driving (round trip), not just because they keep gasoline on hand for idiots like me, but because that's my favorite team. Ha! The author always wins.
No, but seriously, check out these official NFL attendance numbers as they compare to the official Census Bureau Numbers. Apparently, Packers fans are fanatical. (is that an oxymoron?) With only half a million people in Green Bay and Appleton combined, the stadium "packs" in 70,000 plus people EVERY game. That means 1 out of every 7.35 people go to the game. Fanatics! That's like 1 person out of every 2 houses on your street. Imagine the Sunday morning traffic.
Compare that to the 18.8 million folks in the NY City area, where 79,088 go to see the Jets (typical sell-out numbers for 2011), and about 79,500 see the Giants on average. The attendance kept climbing until the second Redskins game, so it looks like fair weather fans, as hopes for a division championship keep rising. Both teams combined, only 1 out of 119 people make the trip. That's like 40 people out of every apartment building. Imagine the crowded sidewalks.
And let's not forget New Orleans. Even though they lost 300,000 people after getting whacked by Katrina, their attendance is still better than most cities with much larger populations.
Stadiums that sell out each game get a special nod, since we have no way of knowing how many people would actually be attending given a larger stadium. Teams with inconsistent fan turnout results in a lower rating. In some cases, such as the Denver Broncos, attendance was fairly regular until the Bengals showed up, and 2,000 Broncos fans stayed home. Awww, poor Bengals don't get no respect. In these cases, the home team gets docked about a tenth of a point, so no big deal.
Chiefs fans numbered over 72,000 except when the Bills came to town, when 3200 spectators stayed home. Colts fans get a special thumbs down. Their numbers were all under 65,200 except when the Steelers came to town, when another 1100 fans showed up, probably Steelers fans. And Steelers fans aren't immune from this stuff. All of their attendance was near the maximum around 64 thousand, except when the Browns showed up. On that day 3000 fans stayed home.
Special cases are for San Francisco and N.Y. City, where these MSAs share two NFL teams. Therefore, the population is cut in half before a score is taken.
Here're the rankings:
2007 Census Bureau Statistics vs. NFL attendance
Metropolitan Statistical Area population
vs. Stadium attendance, 2011 season, up to Dec 19th, High vs. Low
Citizens per Fan
Buffalo Bills_________1,128,183 70,133 51,579 18.5 #3
Miami Dolphins______ 5,413,212 67,823 51,032 91.1 #29
New England Patriots__4,482,857 68,756 68,756 65.2 #21 *** all sellouts ***
New York Jets______18,815,988 79,088 78,702 119.3 #31 *** mostly sellouts ***
Baltimore Ravens____2,668,056 71,434 71,022 37.49 #13
Cincinnati Bengals____2,133,678 63,262 41,142 40.9 #15
Cleveland Browns____2,096,471 67,321 63,498 32.1 #10
Pittsburgh Steelers___2,355,712 64,851 60,754 37.51 #14
Houston Texans_____5,628,101 71,585 71,412 78.7 #27
Indianapolis Colts____1,695,037 66,309 63,928 26.0 #7
Jacksonville Jaguars__1,300,823 62,976 61,619 20.9 #4
Tennessee Titans____1,521,437 69,143 69,143 22.0 #5 *** all sellouts ***
Denver Broncos_____2,464,866 76,556 73,281 32.9 #11
Kansas City Chiefs___1,985,429 74,093 68,755 27.8 #8
Oakland Raiders_____4,203,898 62,572 57,300 35.1 #12
San Diego Chargers__2,974,859 68,908 62,236 45.4 #17
Dallas Cowboys_______6,145,037 95,952 78,122 70.6 #25
New York Giants_____18,815,988 80,634 78,290 118.5 #30
Philadelphia Eagles____5,827,962 69,144 69,144 84.3 #28 **** all sellouts ****
Washington Redskins__5,306,565 80,447 74,121 68.7 #23
Chicago Bears_______9,524,673 62,396 61,542 153.7 #32
Detroit Lions________4,467,592 67,861 60,040 69.9 #24
Green Bay Packers____519,157 70,604 70,498 7.4 #1
Minnesota Vikings____3,208,212 63,946 62,461 50.8 #20
Atlanta Falcons_________5,278,904 70,359 68,115 76.2 #26
Carolina Panthers_______1,651,568 73,245 71,704 22.8 #6
New Orleans Saints______1,030,363 73,068 73,002 14.1 #2
Tampa Bay Buccaneers___2,723,949 76,981 46,995 43.9 #16
Arizona Cardinals_____4,179,427 62,475 60,443 68.0 #22
San Francisco 49ers___4,203,898 69,732 69,732 30.2 #9 **** all sellouts ****
Seattle Seahawks_____3,309,347 67,039 66,004 49.9 #19
St. Louis Rams________2,803,707 57,179 56,029 49.5 #18
Notes on attendance:
Buffalo Bills________1,128,183 70,133 51,579 Jets max; Raiders & Patriots 68K, Eagles near 70k; D.C. min, Titans 56K, Dolphins 61k
Miami Dolphins.......5,413,212 67,823 51,032 Eagles max, Broncos 64K, others 50's
New England Patriots 4,482,857 68,756 68,756 *** all sellouts ***
New York Jets 18,815,988 79,088 78,702 *** mostly sellouts ***
Baltimore Ravens 2,668,056 71,434 71,022
Cincinnati Bengals 2,133,678 63,262 41,142 Bills min, Texans near min, Browns 3rd min, Steelers max
Cleveland Browns 2,096,471 67,321 63,498 Jaguars min, Ravens near min, Bengals max
Pittsburgh Steelers 2,355,712 64,851 60,754 Browns min, others near max Ha, ha!
Houston Texans 5,628,101 71,585 71,412
Indianapolis Colts 1,695,037 66,309 63,928 Steelers max, others < 65.2k
Jacksonville Jaguars 1,300,823 62,976 61,619
Tennessee Titans 1,521,437 69,143 69,143 *** all sellouts ***
Denver Broncos 2,464,866 76,556 73,281 Bengals min, others 75K or higher, ha, ha!
Kansas City Chiefs 1,985,429 74,093 68,755 all 72K plus but Bills!
Oakland Raiders 4,203,898 62,572 57,300 all below 60K but Jets and Patriots
San Diego Chargers 2,974,859 68,908 62,236 Packers max, Raiders near max, Chiefs min; Bills and Dolphins near min
Dallas Cowboys 6,145,037 95,952 78,122 DC 91k, climb from 78k~87.4k, then Giants 95K
New York Giants 18,815,988 80,634 78,290 kept climbing until 2nd Redskins
Philadelphia Eagles 5,827,962 69,144 69,144 **** all sellouts ****
Washington Redskins 5,306,565 80,447 74,121 Eagles max, Cowboys & Giants 80k, others vary
Chicago Bears 9,524,673 62,396 61,542
Detroit Lions 4,467,592 67,861 60,040 Chicago max, GB 66.2K, others below 64K
Green Bay Packers 519,157 70,604 70,498 301,131 & Appleton's MSA population of 218,026
Minnesota Vikings 3,208,212 63,946 62,461 Green Bay max
Atlanta Falcons 5,278,904 70,359 68,115 New Orleans max, others < 69.6k
Carolina Panthers 1,651,568 73,245 71,704 Jacksonville min, smooth range
New Orleans Saints 1,030,363 73,068 73,002
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2,723,949 76,981 46,995 Chicago max, 50K & 60K
Arizona Cardinals 4,179,427 62,475 60,443
San Francisco 49ers 4,203,898 69,732 69,732 **** all sellouts ****
Seattle Seahawks 3,309,347 67,039 66,004
St. Louis Rams 2,803,707 57,179 56,029 New Orleans max