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The Rise (and Fall) of the Arena Football League


  • Mark Foley


  • Fred Smith



After 22 seasons of competition, the Arena Football League (AFL) suspended operations in 2009. Play resumed in 2010, but attendance has declined dramatically. We examine the determinants of the demand for tickets to AFL games using data from the league’s first incarnation from 1987 to 2008; we find that the honeymoon effect for first-generation AFL teams was very short. Teams lost about 1,700 fans per game on average in their second year of operation, a sizeable loss given league average of 11,000 fans. Our results also suggest that Major League Baseball (MLB) serves as a direct competitor to the AFL, and this offers insights into why the AFL has struggled in its second incarnation (2010–2012). Copyright International Atlantic Economic Society 2013

Suggested Citation

  • Mark Foley & Fred Smith, 2013. "The Rise (and Fall) of the Arena Football League," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 41(4), pages 439-450, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:atlecj:v:41:y:2013:i:4:p:439-450
    DOI: 10.1007/s11293-013-9390-2

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 2008. "Heteroskedasticity-Robust Standard Errors for Fixed Effects Panel Data Regression," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(1), pages 155-174, January.
    2. Seth R. Gitter & Thomas A. Rhoads, 2010. "Determinants of Minor League Baseball Attendance," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 11(6), pages 614-628, December.
    3. Jason Winfree & Jill McCluskey & Ron Mittelhammer & Rodney Fort, 2004. "Location and attendance in major league baseball," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(19), pages 2117-2124.
    4. Lorna Gifis & Paul Sommers, 2006. "Promotions and Attendance in Minor League Baseball," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 34(4), pages 513-514, December.
    5. Andrew Chupp & E. Frank Stephenson & Ron Taylor, 2007. "Stadium Alcohol Availability and Baseball Attendance: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," International Journal of Sport Finance, Fitness Information Technology, vol. 2(1), pages 36-44, February.
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    More about this item


    AFL; Attendance; Honeymoon Effect; D0; L0;

    JEL classification:

    • D0 - Microeconomics - - General
    • L0 - Industrial Organization - - General


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