Wisconsinites are the NFL’s biggest fans

September 10, 2013
Packers quarterback Aaron Rogers (Photo by Hector Amezcua, Associated Press)
Packers quarterback Aaron Rogers (Photo by Hector Amezcua, Associated Press)

The Dallas Cowboys may be America’s team, but the Green Bay Packers inspire the most rabid loyalty among their local fans.

More than half of residents in Green Bay, Wis. say they are very interested in the NFL, according to marketing data collected by Scarborough Research, a New York-based marketing firm. And about 46 percent of residents in the Milwaukee media market say they are very interested in the NFL, the data show.

New Orleans, Baltimore and Pittsburgh round out the top five markets with the highest percentages of fans who say they’re very interested in the NFL. More than a third of residents in Boston, Colorado Springs, Providence, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Indianapolis, Buffalo, Washington, Cincinnati, Denver and Minneapolis say they’re very interested too.

Fans of the Seattle Seahawks and the St. Louis Rams need to start recruiting more of their friends to watch. The two NFC West teams play in media markets with the lowest levels of interested fans; just 23.2 percent of St. Louis residents say they’re very interested, while 24.4 percent of Seattleites watch the NFL closely.

But in Green Bay, the Packers are a way of life. An amazing 86 percent of Green Bay residents say they are very, somewhat or a little bit interested in the NFL, meaning the average Green Bay resident is 40 percent more likely to be an NFL fan than the average American.

And 88 percent of Green Bay residents watch, attend or listen to Packer games. That figure is the highest percentage Scarborough has measured for any team in any market since it began collecting the data more than a dozen years ago, said Bill Nielsen, the company’s vice president of sales.

In fact, almost 43 percent of Green Bay residents say they would pay more than $50 for a ticket to Lambeau Field (They’ll have to shell out a lot more than that if they actually want to see a game; the cheapest tickets available for this weekend’s Packers-Redskins game are selling for $145 on StubHub). More than one third of all Green Bay residents, 35.3 percent, say they have purchased NFL apparel in the last year; by comparison, just 16 percent said they bought Major League Baseball gear. A little more than half, 55 percent, said they watch, attend or listen to Brewers games.

A majority of residents in the Washington media market, 53 percent, have watched, listened to or attended a Redskins game in the last year, the Scarborough data show, making the team the most popular in the region. The Nationals reach second place, at 39 percent, while more Washingtonians pay attention to the Ravens (31 percent) and the Orioles (23 percent) than to the Capitals or the Wizards.

Update: A previous version of this post gave the wrong name to the St. Louis Rams. The author is very, very embarrassed.

Reid Wilson covers state politics and policy for the Washington Post's GovBeat blog. He's a former editor in chief of The Hotline, the premier tip sheet on campaigns and elections, and he's a complete political junkie.
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