Vikings middle of pack in fan ratings

The Vikings finished 18th in an economic study of NFL fans.

What makes a fan a fan? How does one fan base rank with another? Those are hard to quantify, but Emory Sports Analytics has try to combine factors in determining what it calls “Fan Equity Rankings.”

In attempting to determine fan loyalty and passion, Emory has attempted to blend parameters to determine the most avid, engaged, passionate and supportive fans. To quantify that data, Emory used factors like attendance, ticket prices, branding and revenues.

Using several complicated factors and data that could be subject to interpretation, Emory came up with an index about what fans support their teams the most and the least. Minnesota Vikings fans may believe they’re the most passionate, but according to the Emory index, they’re middle of the road.

Here is the full list:

1. Dallas
2. New England
3. New York Giants
4. Baltimore
5. New York Jets
6. Chicago
7. Green Bay
8. New Orleans
9. Indianapolis
10. San Francisco
11. Philadelphia
12. Houston
13. Denver
14. Pittsburgh
15. Washington
16. Tennessee
17. San Diego
18. Minnesota
19. Arizona
20. Atlanta
21. Tampa Bay
22. Carolina
23. St. Louis
24. Cincinnati
25. Detroit
26. Seattle
27. Kansas City
28. Buffalo
29. Jacksonville
30. Oakland
31. Cleveland
32. Miami

When it comes to using revenue-driven functions to determine the loyalty of a fan base, there are some surprises. If you were to ask the casual fan which team travels the best, you would be hard-pressed to prove that Pittsburgh and Green Bay shouldn’t top that list. Ask any Vikings fan who has attended a home game against the Packers or Steelers and they can attest to the loyalty those fan bases have – even in enemy territory. Yet, when it comes to the pure economics of the metric by which fan loyalty is based, the Packers and Steelers emotional bond with their fans isn’t accurately reflected.

One of the bigger surprises was how low the Seattle Seahawks are on the list. It isn’t that their fans aren’t passionate – the 12th Man is legendary – but they are a fan base of more recent vintage and this study used factors over the last 15 years. For years, Seattle was just another NFL franchise that would occasionally make a deep playoff run, but, for the most part, was as nondescript to the casual fan as Buffalo or Jacksonville. That is changing, but it will take time for the economics to catch up with the price of being a Seattle fan.

It comes as no surprise that the teams at the bottom are franchises that have undergone a long-term malaise. The fact that three of the bottom 12 teams are all from Florida is also interesting because many believe that too many Floridians are transplants from other, colder sections of the country and don’t have the passion for the local product as they may with the team they grew up watching.

In the end, it can be argued that all fans have a passionate base of supporters that attend their games, buy their merchandise and have their moods on Sundays and Mondays often shaped by the outcome of the game their favorite team plays, and the closer you get to a Super Bowl, the more crushing the final loss becomes.

When you analyze the analytics used in the Emory study, what emerges is a scale of the extent to which fans will pay to be fans of the team. Buying premium tickets in Dallas and New England is cost prohibitive. Why are the Giants and Jets so high? They can command a ransom for tickets because, in a market the size of New York City and its environs, it shouldn’t take a lot of fan interest to fill a stadium. Jerry Jones built a stadium capable of holding 100,000 people because, if the Cowboys become a champion, they could sell 200,000 seats a game for re-enfranchised casual fans with deep pockets.

The numbers are what they are. The Vikings should climb under those parameters once they move into their new stadium, because it will draw every fan and non-fan alike from Minnesota who has it on their bucket list to attend one game and spend. The same happened at Target Field for the Twins and the X-cel Energy for the Wild.

But, for now, the Vikings are a middle-of-the-road franchise in terms of fan passion. Once they change the analytics to take in the extent to which football franchises are the fabric of their communities, then the index may see a shuffling of the deck.

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