Of Washington’s teams in each of the “Big Four” sports leagues, the Wizards have consistently been in fourth place among D.C. sports fans. This isn’t to say that “no one in D.C. likes the Wizards.” It’s just that the Capitals, Redskins, and Nationals run the sports narrative in town more than the Wizards and it also feeds into their attendance.
Here are the Wizards’ attendance figures based on utilization and rank within the NBA since John Wall’s first season in 2010-11. Note that these do not include the actual number of people reported to attend a game:
- 2010-11 (83.2 percent, 21st)
- 2011-12 (82.9 percent, 23rd)
- 2012-13 (80.6 percent, 24th)
- 2013-14 (84 percent, 24th)
- 2014-15 (89.9 percent, 24th)
- 2015-16 (87.3 percent, 24th)
- 2016-17 (83.8 percent, 27th)
- 2017-18 (88.6 percent, 24th)
- 2018-19 (90.8 percent, 20th)*
Regardless of whether the Wizards were among the NBA’s worst or were considered an up-and-coming team, the Wizards failed to be above 90 percent of their seats sold in Capital One Arena since Wall joined the team in every season except this one. But the 2018-19 season is still less than a month old. And the Wizards’ 2-8 record indicates that attendance is bound to drop assuming they continue to keep losing many games.
There are a number of reasons for the Wizards’ low attendance over the years. From 2010-2014, the Wizards were among the NBA’s worst team and the Wizards made little attempt to offer complimentary seats to “dress up” the arena.
But ince the Wizards were a consistent playoff team (2014-present), the Wizards still haven’t filled more than 90 percent of the arena on average. And regardless, the Wizards were in the bottom 10 of the NBA, which indicates that the Wizards are just not very good at attracting people to watch their games with in the NBA.
Revenue may have increased due to higher ticket prices, but the fans still aren’t coming in droves, even when the Wizards were performing better in recent years. Is it because the D.C. area is that cynical about the Wizards’ performance when they are winning? Is it because D.C. area residents assume the Wizards are perennial losers where they think “Same ol’ Wizards” whenever the team loses? And finally, are ticket prices just too high to sustain a consistently full arena?
The answer is probably a little bit of everything.