The Demand For NFL Attendance: A Rational Addiction Model

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Erin LeAnne Spenner
Aju J. Fenn
John R. Crooker

Keywords

sports attendance, rational addiction, NFL demand

Abstract

This paper examines the demand for attendance at National Football League (NFL) games using a rational addiction model to test the hypothesis that professional football displays the properties of a habit-forming good.  Rational addiction theory suggests that past and future consumption play a part in determining the current period’s consumption for habit-forming goods.  Additionally, we postulate the behavioral implications of profit-maximizing ticket pricing behavior by NFL teams.  Previous studies have been unable to detect pricing power by NFL teams.  Our model of pricing power allows us to identify theoretically- anticipated pricing behavior.  A pooled data set is collected using statistics from each NFL team from the 1983 to the 2008 seasons.  Current attendance is modeled as a function of team specific variables, including past and future attendance, ticket price, and team performance.  The model is estimated using Two-Stage Least Squares (2SLS).  We also treat the censored nature of ticket demand as NFL teams frequently experience sell-outs.  It is found that past and future attendance, winning percentage, the age of the stadium in which a team plays, and own-price demand elasticity influence attendance.  The fact that coefficients for past and future attendance are positive and significant in this analysis lends support to the notion that NFL fans display characteristics of rational addiction in their consumption behavior.  Further, we find evidence to support profit-maximizing behavior in ticket sales.

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