A Multilevel Model Analysis of Professional Soccer Attendance in Chile 1990-2002

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study examined the determinants of attendance at the Chilean national soccer tournaments between 1990 and 2002. A multilevel model approach was taken to estimate the effects of several factors, including unobserved sources, hypothesised to influence attendance in Chile. Results regarding team success, team division, population, stadium size and habitual persistence were found to influence professional soccer attendance; other factors such as admission price, age of team, international success, availability of soccer teams in the same vicinity and stadium ownership did not.

Keywords

sports attendance

multilevel model

professional soccer

South American soccer

Executive summary

A brief survey of recent literature on professional sports attendance reveals an overwhelming focus on North American and European sport. Despite a growing body of literature on determinants of attendance at professional sports events, analyses of attendance in other contexts, especially sport in South America, are lacking. In order to address this gap in the literature, this study examined several factors hypothesised to influence attendance at Chilean national soccer tournaments. These included competition, admission price, teams' win-loss record, pennant race winner, division, cumulative international success, population, team age, stadium capacity and stadium ownership.

Data includes yearly observations for a total of 18 teams that participated in the Chilean professional tournaments between 1990 and 2002. Data were collected from the archives of the Asociacion Nacional de Futbol Profesional de Chile (National Association of Professional Soccer of Chile--ANFP) and from the management office of Club Deportivo Universidad Catolica.

Because of the hierarchical structure of the data, a multilevel model approach was taken to estimate the effects and isolate multiple unobserved sources of influence on attendance. Results indicate that many factors derived from the literature were also influential in Chile. In summary, attendance at professional soccer in Chile tends to be driven by team quality, the size of the city in which a team is located and stadium capacity. In addition, findings show support for habitual persistence, which is an unobserved influence of prior attendance on future attendance. Factors such as admissions price, team age, international success, stadium ownership and competition were not found to influence significantly attendance. These results seem to suggest that Chilean soccer teams' marketing activities are largely determined by team success on the field, with little focus on marketing opportunities related to stadium ownership, team tradition and international success.

Introduction

Professional sports attendance has been a pervasive research topic in many areas of study, including sports management, sports marketing, sports sociology and economics. One important objective of sports attendance studies is to understand the relative importance of managerial, demographic and socioeconomic factors that are hypothesised to influence attendance in a particular context. Sports attendance research provides an understanding of how demand shifts as a result of changes in managerial, economic or social conditions. This is invaluable to managers responsible for maximising revenue from gate receipts.

A brief survey of recent literature on attendance reveals an overwhelming focus on North American and European professional sport, including US major league sports and European professional soccer, cricket and rugby (Baade & Tiehen 1990; Baimbridge et al, 1995, 1996; Dobson & Goddard 1995; Carmichael et al, 1996; Hansen & Gauthier, 1989; Hynds & Smith, 1994; Marcum & Greenstein, 1995; Simmons, 1996; Welki & Zlatoper, 1994). There has also been some interest in Australian sports--mainly football and rugby (see Borland & Lye, 1992, for an example of a study of Australian rules football). …