This season it seems that every UB Basketball game conflicts with a Sabres game, which means for many in the community who are fans of both teams, they have to chose which team they will support. In a year where the Sabres are playing well, or a year where the hype means many people purchase Sabres in advance, does UB struggle to fill the arena?
To analyze this, I looked at the top four seasons of UB Basketball in wins: This year, the 2010 Baby Bulls, the 2008 runner ups, and the 2004 original runner ups.
The 2004 team was the only game in town, and the first chance for UB fans to see a winner.
The 2008 team had high attendance and were largely unaffected by a 10th place Sabres team.
The 2010 team had only 7 of 15 home games conflicting with the Sabres, but after a slow start, the Sabres played better and made a playoff run. As a result, the 2010 season was the worst average attendance for the Bulls, but the best average attendance when there was no conflicting Sabres game.
This year's Bulls have had only 2 games with no conflict with the Sabres. Attendance is better when the Sabres are on the road, but strangely worst when the Sabres were not playing.
Looking at the data, it seems a good UB team will bring in 2,650 fans on average, and lose about 500 of those fans if the Sabres are good.
When the Sabres were locked out, the "only show in town" boost was good for about 1,300 additional fans.
Unfortunately when the Sabres are in season, those 1,300 fans do not consistently fill the arena, whether the Sabres are playing that day or not. It seems the Sabres chip away at the number of loyal UB Basketball fans, and playing UB games on days when there is no Sabres Hockey would not result in more fans at Alumni Arena.
Data after the jump.
Overall Attendance Average:
Nothing like the first time...the 2004 Bulls team experienced superior attendance, it was the first major UB team to experience success and that year there was a NHL lockout.
Overall Attendance Average Adjusted:
2004 3,932 – Minus HSBC game
2011 2,628 – Minus Buff State game
2010 2,157 – Minus Toledo Winter game
In 2004 the highest attended game was vs Indiana State at HSBC. In 2011 UB faced an overmatched Buff St team while students were on break and fans were focused on Bowl games and the holiday season. In 2010, the Toledo game was rescheduled due to a winter storm that closed UB.
Removing those games, 2004 was still far and away the most supportive year. 2008 and 2011 are basically equal, and 2010 was the worst.
Sabres Games on same day as Bulls game:
2011 - so far 9 out of 11 Bulls home games have conflicted. 2 out of the final 3 games will conflict.
2010 - 7 out of 15 Bulls home games conflicted.
2008 - 9 out of 13 Bulls home games conflicted.
Attendance when there is a Sabres game:
In 2008, attendance when there was a Sabres game was 2 people less than the overall adjusted average.
In 2010, attendance was 692 fans less than the overal adjusted average.
In 2011, attendance was 56 fans higher than the overall adjusted average.
This seems to show the poor play of the '08 Sabres meant they had no effect on the Bulls. The surge of the 2010 Sabres seemed to pull fans away from the Bulls and this year's 2011 Sabres poor play coincided with the UB win streak and seems to have drawn more fans to UB games.
Attendance when there is no Sabres game:
2010 2,849 (not including Toledo winter game)
2011 2,122 (not including Buff State game)
In 2008, attendance when there was a Sabres game was 3 people higher than the overall adjusted average.
In 2010, attendance was 692 fans higher than the overal adjusted average.
In 2011, attendance was 506 fans lower than the overall adjusted average.
Attendance vs Sabres Home/Away games:
In 2010 and 2011 we have 301 and 540 more fans on average when the Sabres are on the road.