Expanding upon the weather: cloud cover and barometric pressure as determinants of attendance for NFL games

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Purpose: Purpose of the study is to further expand insights into how weather impacts attendance at sporting events. With the NFL having only eight home games a year per team, it is more of an event than other North American sports. We explore this in terms of how sensitive fans are to weather, by not only looking at traditional factors, but also other weather variables available through Accuweather. In addition, the authors explore team success, outcome uncertainty and other factors as determinants of demand. Design/methodology/approach: The method includes Tobit model of attendance in terms of percent of capacity in the National Football League. Model includes factors such as outcome uncertainty, team success, etc. but mainly focuses on weather. Weather factors studied include traditional variables such as temperature and precipitation, and also includes cloud cover, barometric pressure, wind speed and humidity. Different model specifications are included to explore results. Key findings allow for differences between games played outdoors versus indoors. Findings: In terms of control variables, team success, new stadiums and stadium age play a significant role in attendance in terms of percentage of capacity. Outcome uncertainty does not appear to be important, and fans desire the opposite when the home team is an underdog. The main results concern the weather. When only traditional weather variables are included, precipitation plays a key role. With further expansion of the weather variables, it appears that cloud cover offers some additional information beyond precipitation. In addition, barometric pressure plays a minor, but statistically significant role as it relates to attendance in terms of capacity. Research limitations/implications: Including deeper and richer weather data helps to further explain attendance at sporting events. With the NFL, this may be limited by it being such as event due to the scarcity of games in a season. In addition, the weather variables are not truly independent, although they are not as correlated as may be anticipated on the surface. Use of different types of weather variables in models of attendance may help to deepen our understanding of factors influencing consumer decisions. These factors may play larger roles in sports with wider variance in attendance during the season. Practical implications: The practical implications are that other weather-related variables besides temperature and precipitation may offer insight into consumer decisions related to attendance at sporting events. Cloud cover gives insights into anticipated poor weather in addition to it directly leading to less of a sunny day to be outdoors at an event. Barometric pressure has been shown to influence headaches and joint pain and may also influence consumer decisions to venture out to sporting events. Social implications: As data becomes more widely available in general, it's possible to add additional insights into factors influencing various forms of decision-making. In this study, we show that more information on weather can shed insights into consumer decisions as it relates to attending events such as sports. These decisions likely differ based upon whether the event is held outdoors or indoors. With more entertainment choices as substitutes, it is important to identify key factors which influence consumer decisions to help better structure events in the future. Originality/value: Weather variables beyond temperature and precipitation are included in a Tobit model for NFL attendance using percentage of capacity as the dependent variable. These weather variables are cloud cover, wind speed, humidity, and barometric pressure. Cloud cover and barometric pressure were found to have some significant effects on percentage of capacity. When included, precipitation itself is no longer found to be significant, but precipitation interacted with games played in domes retains statistical significance as there are key differences between games held outdoors versus indoors.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)749-759
Number of pages11
JournalManagerial Finance
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020


  • Economics
  • Consumer behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)


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