Miami Heat Fans Among Most Die-Hard in NBA, New Study Finds

Miami Heat Fans Among Most Die-Hard in NBA, New Study Finds
Photo by Monica McGivern

Wins haven't been easy to come by for the Miami Heat this season, but according to a new study, Heat fans keep winning off the court. They don't need science to prove they are among the best fans in all of sports — but science keeps stepping in to prove it's true.

The latest evidence comes in a study by SmartAsset, which shows that over an 11-year period, Heat fans were the sixth-most die-hard supporters in the whole NBA. To come to that conclusion, SmartAsset created a point system that looked at attendance, ticket prices, and local economic factors.

In those years, he Heat had the third-highest attendance in the league at 99.4 percent even though Heat ticket prices were the sixth-highest in the league on average.

"According to ESPN data, the Heat had strong attendance numbers from 2005 to 2010. The average attendance rate was lowest in 2010 at 90.5 percent, but it was typically in the mid- to high 90s." SmartAsset spokesperson Asees Singh tells New Times.

The study also looked at local cost of living and salaries to suggest how much of a sacrifice NBA tickets are for fans. They found that the average Heat fan needed to work about 6.41 hours for a ticket. Combined with such high attendance for so many years, and Miami ranked high for its hoops devotion.

Only five clubs finished higher in the survey: the New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Clippers, and Portland TrailBlazers. The Heat is far and away the youngest franchise at the top of the list, which makes sense because older teams have built up equity with fans who can take them through down times.

"History itself was not a factor in our study, but we noticed that some older teams with a proud winning history sustained losing seasons better than teams without prior success," Singh says.

Heat fans took a serious PR hit when LeBron James came to Miami in 2010. The narrative birthed at the time was that bandwagon Heat fans were coming out of the woodwork to back the suddenly star-laden team.

This study — along with basic attendance numbers that are readily available to anyone interested in the truth — should extinguish those hot takes for good.

One franchise not so fortunate to have the bandwagon label disproven by actual facts, however, is the Cleveland Cavaliers. SmartAsset's index ranks Cavs fans 11 slots behind Heat fans, in great part because of how Cavs fans proved themselves after LeBron James left Cleveland for Miami in 2010.

"The Cleveland Cavaliers came in 17th on our list due, in part, to a low dedication score. This is a factor in our analysis recognizing fans who continue to show up to games even when their team is less likely to win. In particular, the Cavaliers did not perform well from 2012 to 2014, and their attendance rate dropped to the 70s," Singh says.

Keep this one handy the next time a Cavs fan tries to talk trash about the Heat.


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