Chapter 17: Long-run Trends and Factors in Attendance Patterns in Sport: Australian Football League, 1945–2009
Liam J.A. Lenten INTRODUCTION AND MOTIVATION Trends in demand for leisure activities are linked inextricably to many broad factors that are discussed in detail in other chapters in the current volume. A number of well-known dynamics are just as evident in data on professional sport patronage as they are for other leisure activities, such as the arts. Such factors include rising demand in the long run arising from greater leisure time afforded by higher incomes, as well as cyclical effects influencing demand in the shorter-to-medium run, not to mention the standard pricing effects. However, certain aspects of demand for leisure goods are also highly industry specific, such as the quality of the product, and how that quality is measured. Economists recognize that in the pro-sports industry, the absolute level of quality of product is important to fans. A simple example is the tendency for average home attendances of teams in Europe’s major football leagues to rise (fall) when they are promoted (relegated) through divisions (see Noll, 2002). Similarly, major league attendances are easily greater than equivalent minor league attendances in North Americanstyle leagues. This is analogous to, for instance, box office revenues rising temporarily during periods in which there are a larger number of movies in release that are rated highly according to movie critic reviews or perceptions of moviegoers. In some cases, there can even be a degree of substitution between forms of leisure, like the anecdotal evidence of Baade and Sanderson (1997, p. 97), who claim that Hollywood...
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