We rank the NRL sides on 2006 crowd figures:

We all love a winner and obviously when your NRL side is travelling well, generally the crowd attendances are impressive. However, for certain teams – fanatical and supportive fans turn out for better or for worse. Teams such as Brisbane, Newcastle and North Queensland have supporters that always turn out in good numbers no matter how the team is playing.

Today we rank the NRL clubs in order of 2006 crowd attendances, and also feature the capacity of each stadium:

1st: Brisbane Broncos – 31,208 av per game – Up 2.8% – Suncorp Stadium – 52,500 max
While travelling well in 2006 and eventually winning the competition – the Broncos always seem to have strong support. Yes, they are a one team town so that must help and it will be very interesting to see if the Titans have any affect on their 2007 figures.

2nd: Newcastle Knights – 21,840 av per game – Up 15.4% – Energy Aus Stadium – 26,126 max
Just when you thought Newcastle couldn’t improve on constant sell outs, they raise their crowd average by 15% in 2006. Recent upgrades to the stadium have ensured greater comfort and there is no sign of attendances dropping in the near future.

3rd: North Queensland Cowboys – 19,628 av per game – Down 4.9% – Dairy Farmers Stadium – 25,000 max
The Cowboys have had good crowds for the last few years now and their transformation into a top 8 side certainly has assisted in bringing the locals in. However, with a 4.9% dip in 2006 – and some very poor performances, is this a worrying sign for the Cowboys? I am not so sure, I feel they will always attract strong crowds due to location and facilities.

4th: Wests Tigers – 18,967 av per game – Up 0.9% – Campbelltown Sports Ground / Telstra / Leichhardt Oval
Campbelltown: 20,000 max / Telstra: 83,500 max / Leichhardt Oval: 20,000 max
A surprise here, the Tigers have continued to build on their 2005 premiership win. Strong sellout’s at both Campbelltown Sports Ground and Leichhardt Oval. Interestingly both of these stadiums have basic facilities and in the case of Leichhardt Oval, have extremely outdated seating and extremely limited infrastructure. Strong western Sydney support should see figures stay healthy for the future.

5th: Bulldogs – 18,041 av per game – Down 1.4% – Telstra Stadium – 83,500 max
The Dogs moved back to Telstra from the Showground and I am sure this helped their cause. While losing crowds slightly in 2006, their figures are still respectable and good performances will see them continue. Seem to have a large section of fickle fans – winning a must for this side.

6th: Manly Sea Eagles – 15,794 av per game – Up 3.9% – Brookvale Oval – 23,000 max
Fortress Brookvale Oval came to life in 2006, crowd figures were healthy – up nearly 4% as fans cheered on a competitive Eagles side that was to eventually make the Semi Finals. While Brooky is another older stadium, there is a relaxed atmosphere on the hill and a good time is had by most. A strong side will ensure this is a happy place for the next few years.

7th: St George Illawarra Dragons – 15,257 av per game – Up 3.1% – OKI Jubilee 20,541 / WIN Stadium 20,000
The Dragons have always had the luxury of one of the largest supporter bases. While not always showing up at the ground on match day, their fans are vast in their numbers. Another team that needs good results to attract fans, I am concerned their next few years could see a dry spell in crowd numbers. Need strong on field performances and promotions to keep their figures on the incline.

8th: Parramatta Eels – 14,587 av per game – Down 11.5% – Parramatta Stadium 20,000 max
A massive drop in crowds during 2006, which was reflective on their initial string of losses during the first half of the year. While boasting one of the better Stadiums with impressive facilities – the blue and gold army stayed away in 2006 and may continue to do so if things don’t improve. Worrying signs for the bunker formerly known as Cumberland Oval.

9th: Sydney City Roosters – 12,846 av per game – Down 25% – Aussie Stadium 42,000 max
One of the highest drop rates of 2006, the Roosters lost massive money at the turnstiles. Poor results saw the Bondi boys finish poorly for the year and the crowds stayed away like theives at a Police convention. Aussie stadium being a larger shared facility also doesn’t help the Roosters cause – the emptiness of smaller crowds is felt much more at Stadiums like Aussie and Telstra. Bad signs ahead.

10th: Cronulla Sharks – 12,488 av per game – Down 30.4% – Toyota Park 21,500 max
The third highest drop rate of the season, the Sharkies fans must have stayed at the beach while their team got spanked. Traditionally had a strong, loyal following – but this supporter base has been hurt by years of turmoil. Chris Anderson and Stuart Raper jumped on the coaching merry go round and now it’s up to Ricky Stuart to get the most from a basic squad. My thoughts tell me Northies and the local pubs around Cronulla will keep getting busier during 2007.

11th: Penrith Panthers – 11,573 av per game – Down 34.6% – Penrith Park 21,000 max
Ouch! The second highest drop rate of 2007, the 2003 premiers continued down the slippery side into the cellar. Big names like: Gower, Clinton, Wesser and Priddis were unable to take the Panthers to the finals. A recently refurbished oval wasn’t able to attract the locals. Surely should improve, because things can’t decline much more!

12th: Canberra Raiders – 11,523 av per game – Down 7.7% – Bruce Stadium 24,647 max
While losing crowds slightly in 2006, it’s not all bad news for the nations capital. Weather and stadium improvements meant they lost the opportunity to achieve higher crowd numbers. While performances were average in 2006, fans tended to stick by the Green machine and this is a good sign for the future.

13th: Melbourne Storm – 10,869 av per game – up 18.1% – Olympic Stadium 18,500 max
Congratulations to the Storm for recording the highest average increase of 2006. Entertaining play and long winning streaks ensured the Melbourne boys stole fans from the AFL rivals. A cosy and centrally located ground – I feel Melbourne has attracted more life fans – as typically Melbourne supporters are the most loyal in our country. Keep it up boys.

14th: South Sydney Rabbitohs – 10,612 av per game – down 13.3% – Aussie Stadium 42,000 max
The continued loss of game day fans saw Souths sign up with Telstra Stadium for 2007. I don’t know if this is the right answer, but with Redfern Oval still a no go zone – the Bunnies Administration needed to do something about shocking crowds. While the Bunnies boast the largest member base of the NRL – they can’t seem to get bums on seats. Let’s hope their massive recruitment helps in 2007.

15th: New Zealand Warriors – 8,829 av per game – down 48.4% – Mt Smart Stadium 35,000 max
Easily the biggest crowd loser of 2006, the Kiwi boys have gone from being a potential comp winner to friendless footy team in a short space of time. Strong local Rugby Union support is always tough, but if the Warriors don’t lift their game in 2007 – financial ruin may prove fatal. Let’s cross our fingers for the entertainers of yesteryear.

By ricky

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