The National Basketball League has seen an 8% increase in crowds during the 2019/20 regular season, in what has been its fifth year of consecutive growth.
The NBL’s total attendance for 2019/20 regular season also increased by 21%, attracting a total of 866,082 fans at an average of 6,874 per game – up on the 714,346 fans who attended last season. With the introduction of new team South East Melbourne Phoenix, the number of regular season games increased from 112 to 126 this campaign.
With the finals series still to be played, the league will attract in excess of 900,000 fans this season and create a new record average attendance. Following a week off, the finals commence this Friday evening at RAC Arena.
It continues significant growth for the league, in what is regarded as one of the best basketball leagues in the world, after the NBA. While other major sports over the Australian summer have seen a decrease in attendances, the NBL continues to rise.
The A-League and BBL still trump the NBL however, with both recording higher aggregate and average attendances. Following 20 rounds of the A-League and excluding the round 18 Sydney Derby that was rescheduled for this Friday, the league has seen 932,225 fans through the turnstiles, at an average of 9,711 per game, while the BBL recorded an aggregate of 1,129,694 – an average of 18,520. It certainly has been a well talked about topic throughout summer.
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LaMelo Ball had a big positive impact on crowds during the first half of the season, with the prospective NBA number one draft pick attracting big crowds on the road with his Illawarra Hawks, including the largest ever NBL crowd of 17,514 against the Sydney Kings at Qudos Bank Arena. The Hawks average away attendance was 8,790 – the most of any team, while their home attendances disappointingly saw an increase of just 10%.
Announcing the growth in attendances, NBL Commissioner, Jeremy Loeliger, stated “this has been another record-breaking season for the league which has gone to a new level both on and off the court.
“These numbers are a credit to our clubs and players who put on an incredible show and to our passionate and loyal fans who are clearly enjoying a great entertainment product.
“What’s most pleasing is that every single team has enjoyed an increase in attendance in what is a crowded sports entertainment market across Australia and New Zealand.
“I’m sure we are going to see more big crowds turn out for what is one of the most anticipated finals series in NBL history and enjoy more outstanding basketball and entertainment.”
Of the top 15 attendances across the season, the Perth Wildcats attracted 14 of those at RAC Arena, with 181,634 fans attending their home games at a league-high average of 12,974, continuing their strong attendances since moving to the arena. Andrew Bogut’s Sydney Kings attracted 140,168 fans to Qudos Bank Arena, which was an increase of 17%.
Despite sharing the city with a new team, Melbourne United still drew 117,349 fans to Melbourne Arena, just up on last year, including six sell-out crowds of 10,300, while the Phoenix had the biggest attendance for a first-year team in NBL history, attracting 75,179 fans to their home games.
The Adelaide 36ers moved their home games to the Adelaide Entertainment Centre and enjoyed a 19% increase in attendances with 104,775 fans flocking to its new inner-city home venue. The Brisbane Bullets were another team to move to a new venue and they saw a 19% increase in crowds at Nissan Arena, with 55,297 fans attending the new facility at Nathan.
The Cairns Taipans saw a slight increase in home attendances at the Convention Centre, with 61,917 games, while across the ditch, the New Zealand Breakers had 81,638 fans attend their games – an increase of 37%.
The Finals Series commences on Friday and games will be played at RAC Arena, Qudos Bank Arena, Cairns Convention Centre and Melbourne Arena. The first game of the 2020 NBL Grand Final Series will be played on March 6. View the full Finals schedule.