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New Era Field at 96% capacity on average for 2019 Buffalo Bills

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The Buffalo Bills nearly filled their stadium

The fans of the Buffalo Bills have a bit of a reputation for supporting their team, including a few “takeovers” in hostile territory this year. How did we do defending our own dirt this year? Sure, you’ve read the title. But that’s just a hint.


Attendance at New Era Field in 2019

As the title suggests, New Era Field attendance averaged 96% of the stadium’s capacity in 2019. That sounds fantastic. Let’s check in on some fast facts before we explore that idea.

  • New Era Field can hold 71,608 fans. By capacity it’s the tenth-largest stadium in the league (12th if you count extended capacity for the Jacksonville Jaguars and Minnesota Vikings).
  • Average attendance in 2019 was 68,839 fans.
  • The highest-attended game was in Week 4 as the undefeated Bills hosted the undefeated New England Patriots, where 70,317 people poured into Orchard Park for that one.
  • The season-low of 67,338 featured a sputtering Denver Broncos squad. Overall, fan attendance was remarkably consistent.

Buffalo vs. Everyone

Yeah, 96% should feel pretty good. How does it stack up to the rest of the league though? As it turns out, that’s pretty average. If we go off of each stadium’s “normal” capacity, the Bills are tied for 18th with the Kansas City Chiefs. If we adjust to take out the Los Angeles Chargers’ attendance percent (I’ll explain in a minute) and factor in that several teams can expand their seating the Bills move all the way up to...15th. And still tied with Kansas City.

I’m sure you have a lot of questions. Luckily, thanks to pro-football-reference.com (attendance figures) and Wikipedia.org (stadium capacity and metro populations) I have a heck of a sortable table for you. You’ll want to be in desktop mode for this one so you can play around with it.

The Table and a few interesting facts

NFL Attendance 2019

Team Home Home average Percent Capacity Percent Extended Cap. Capacity Extended Capacity Metro Population
Team Home Home average Percent Capacity Percent Extended Cap. Capacity Extended Capacity Metro Population
Arizona Cardinals 490,586 61,323 96.7% 96.7% 63,400 N/A 4,661,537
Atlanta Falcons 572,811 71,601 100.8% 100.8% 71,000 N/A 5,789,700
Baltimore Ravens 565,020 70,628 99.5% 99.5% 71,008 N/A 2,798,886
Buffalo Bills 550,713 68,839 96.1% 96.1% 71,608 N/A 1,132,804
Carolina Panthers 577,765 72,221 95.6% 95.6% 75,523 N/A 2,474,886
Chicago Bears 495,332 61,917 100.7% 100.7% 61,500 N/A 9,512,999
Cincinnati Bengals 377,432 47,179 72.0% 72.0% 65,515 N/A 2,165,139
Cleveland Browns 539,448 67,431 99.3% 99.3% 67,895 N/A 2,055,612
Dallas Cowboys 727,432 90,929 100.0% 90.0% 80,000 105,000 7,233,323
Denver Broncos 607,497 75,937 99.8% 99.8% 76,125 N/A 2,853,077
Detroit Lions 490,737 61,342 94.4% 87.6% 65,000 70,000 4,297,617
Green Bay Packers 622,762 77,845 95.6% 95.6% 81,441 N/A 318,236
Houston Texans 574,345 71,793 99.4% 99.4% 72,220 N/A 6,772,470
Indianapolis Colts 488,886 61,111 91.2% 87.3% 67,000 70,000 2,004,230
Jacksonville Jaguars 504,686 63,086 91.3% 76.9% 69,132 82,000 1,478,212
Jacksonville Jaguars -London 419,915 59,988 86.8% 73.2% 69,132 82,000 1,478,212
Kansas City Chiefs 587,723 73,465 96.1% 96.1% 76,416 N/A 2,104,509
Los Angeles Chargers 254,007 31,751 117.6% 117.6% 27,000 N/A 13,310,447
Los Angeles Chargers -Mexico City 177,755 25,394 94.1% 94.1% 27,000 N/A 13,310,447
Los Angeles Rams 582,325 72,791 103.6% 103.6% 70,240 N/A 13,310,447
Miami Dolphins 504,540 63,068 96.5% 96.5% 65,326 N/A 6,066,387
Minnesota Vikings 534,794 66,849 100.0% 91.6% 66,860 73,000 3,551,036
New England Patriots 527,024 65,878 98.6% 98.6% 66,829 N/A 4,794,447
New Orleans Saints 584,660 73,083 99.8% 99.8% 73,208 N/A 1,268,883
New York Giants 597,316 74,665 90.5% 90.5% 82,500 N/A 20,153,634
New York Jets 628,184 78,523 95.2% 95.2% 82,500 N/A 20,153,634
Oakland Raiders 428,311 53,539 95.5% 84.8% 56,067 61,132 6,070,500
Philadelphia Eagles 558,268 69,784 100.3% 100.3% 69,596 N/A 6,070,500
Pittsburgh Steelers 497,896 62,237 91.0% 91.0% 68,400 N/A 2,342,299
San Francisco 49ers 562,443 70,305 102.6% 102.6% 68,500 N/A 6,657,982
Seattle Seahawks 551,927 68,991 100.0% 100.0% 69,000 N/A 3,798,902
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 415,189 51,899 78.8% 78.8% 65,890 N/A 3,032,171
Tennessee Titans 516,074 64,509 93.3% 93.3% 69,143 N/A 1,865,298
Washington [Redacted] 523,906 65,488 79.9% 79.9% 82,000 N/A 6,131,977

I tried my best to give information that I thought would answer most fans’ questions. If you’re looking for game-by-game attendance, you can find it right here. Here’s some fun stuff I wanted to know and/or discovered during the journey:

  • Because I’m petty, I wanted to know how much the annual Wembley Stadium game impacted the Jaguars. So there’s two Jacksonville rows, the “-London” row removes the Wembley attendance. With London included it put them over 90% capacity for the year, but that is an artificial inflation. They drop to 87% if we only look at their actual home. When we factor in that the tarped-off sections COULD be sold and that the team has no reason to avoid making more money, their capacity filled drops to the second lowest in the league at 73.2% #DUUUUUVAAAAAAL.
  • More teams than Jacksonville played international games. The only other team I adjusted for though was the Chargers as their Mexico City game put them at 117% capacity on average, which was too far out of whack for me to let sit. Removing Mexico City had them drop to 94%, which sounds pretty good for a temporary location until you realize that the seating capacity of said location is only 27,000 fans.
  • I was a bit shocked to see that the Pittsburgh Steelers were so close to the bottom of the list.
  • Go ahead and sort the list by “capacity.” Remember Buffalo is the tenth-largest stadium. Of the nine larger venues, and ten teams, only three had a higher percentage of their stadium filled (Houston Texans, Denver Broncos, and New Orleans Saints).
  • Even factoring in expandable stadiums, that adds two additional larger stadiums (Jacksonville and Minnesota). Neither team came close to the Bills.
  • Keep the sorting the same (stadium capacity) but now look at the metro population column. Of the three teams that had a higher percentage of their stadium filled than Buffalo, two of them have significantly larger populations to pull from. New Orleans is quite comparable so being honest you gotta give those fans a tip of the hat.
  • Speaking of the population column, only the Green Bay Packers have a smaller immediate fan base to pull from. Only the aforementioned Saints, Jaguars, and Titans join the Packers and Bills in the “under 2,000,000 club.”
  • One last consideration: These are all “paid attendance” figures. To illustrate what I mean by that the Super Bowl was listed as having 62,417 paid attendees, which is only 95.5% of Hard Rock Stadium’s seating capacity. It’s probable that these numbers are often lower than the actual amount of butts in seats for a variety of reasons.

The primary takeaway from all of the above is that the NFL is not struggling to get fans through the gates.