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Bengals’ attendance numbers hit second lowest mark since 2002

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The Bengals’ second-straight losing season led to some pretty rough crowds for the team’s 50th anniversary season.

Detroit Lions v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images

The Bengals finished the 2017 season with their third-lowest home attendance since Paul Brown Stadium opened in 2000. They also finished 31st out of 32 NFL teams with a home attendance average of 53,275 for their eight home games this past season, which was tied for the second-lowest ranking the Bengals have gotten since 2002.

The Bengals can thank the Los Angeles Chargers’ temporary arrangement of playing in a 30,000 seat MLS stadium, the StubHub Center, for not finishing dead last in attendance this past season.

The Bengals suffered a precipitous decline in home attendance with a whopping 16 percent drop from 63,509 to 53,242, with over 10,000 fewer fans compared to the previous season. This caused their already-low rank among NFL teams to fall from 27th during the 2016 season to 31st during the 2017 season.

There are several possible factors contributing to the low home attendance numbers in 2017. One possible culprit are the national anthem protests, which appeared to drive away a number of fans across the league.

Television numbers were down about 10 percent nationally, with the typical game drawing 14.9 million fans compared to 16.5 million the year before. Although, stadium attendance only dropped three percent across the country, with total attendance dropping from 17.8 million to 17.25 million.

With Paul Brown Stadium seeing a 16 percent drop, compared to only three percent throughout the rest of the NFL, there are probably more factors besides the anthem protests which drove away Bengals fans this season.

The Bengals’ average ticket price was the lowest among all NFL teams in 2017, so money was probably not the cause. It could be that fans didn’t see the team going the right direction.

After a 6-9-1 season which saw the team essentially ignore free agency, re-sign Marvin Lewis with his winless postseason career, and begin 0-3, a number of fans may have given up on the team for the 2017 season.

Bengals home attendance 2000 thru 2017

Yr Home Attendance Attendance / game NFL rank
Yr Home Attendance Attendance / game NFL rank
2017 425,937 53,242 31
2016 508,071 63,509 27
2015 491,118 61,390 28
2014 485,628 60,704 28
2013 506,377 63,297 24
2012 489,504 61,188 24
2011 394,009 49,251 32
2010 482,917 60,365 27
2009 512,032 64,004 24
2008 516,663 64,583 22
2007 526,320 65,790 20
2006 527,870 65,984 22
2005 526,469 65,809 19
2004 524,248 65,531 20
2003 479,488 59,936 27
2002 422,235 52,779 31
2001 454,938 56,867 28
2000 469,992 58,749 25

The Bengals’ five best attended seasons occurred from 2004 thru 2008, when they averaged over 65,000 fans at each home game. Those seasons followed an 8-8 record in Lewis’ first year and were sustained the excitement of a long awaited playoff appearance in 2005.

The 2011 season, which occurred following a lockout between the league ownership and players was the worst attended season since Paul Brown Stadium opened, averaging just over 49,000 fans per game.