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Study says Louisville has college basketball’s best fanbase; Kentucky 7th

May 29, 2013, 12:36 PM EDT

NCAA Final Four Kentucky Louisville Basketball

The folks over at the Emory Sports Marketing Analytics put together an interesting study on Wednesday.

In an effort to determine what college basketball program in the country has the strongest fanbase — they call it “Fan Equity”, which sounds really smart — they may have accidentally thrown some gas on the fire of the rivalry between Louisville and Kentucky. Here are the basics:

We use a statistical model that predicts team revenues as a function of the team’s performance, as measured by winning rates and post season success.  The key insight is that when a team achieves revenues that greatly exceed what would be expected based on team performance, it is an indication of significant brand equity.

The results?

Louisville has the most ‘fan equity’ in the nation. Kentucky? They’re seventh.

Here’s the entire top ten:

1. Louisville
2. Arizona
3. Duke
4. Arkansas
5. North Carolina
6. Texas
7. Kentucky
8. Syracuse
9. Marquette
10. Oklahoma State

What’s important to note here is that this isn’t a study that is supposed to determine whose fans are the most passionate. It’s sole purpose is to figure out which fan base is still spending money when their team is bad. That’s why Arkansas is so high on this list. They sell out Bud Walton Arena even when they’re going 2-14 in the SEC. Texas has an athletic department that prints money whether or not they win basketball games.

So settle down, Kentucky fans.

We all know you’re actually No. 1.

  1. oruacat2 - May 29, 2013 at 1:30 PM

    And yet somehow UK led all other NCAA Men’s Basketball programs in attendance at home-games every year of that study except for one, and that year they finished second behind Syracuse. That doesn’t count road games – UK’s SEC opponents regularly net their highest attendance/ticket sales when the Wildcats roll into town – and it doesn’t account for how well UK fans travel for tournaments. Just ask any cities which host the SEC tournament or NCAA games featuring Kentucky, and they’ll tell you how much money UK fans spend.

    Definitely something wrong with the methodology here.

    • saviormoney - Jun 3, 2013 at 11:06 PM

      UK’s SEC opponents net their highest attendance for UK games for 2 reasons. One being that alot of those sales are UK fans traveling with the team. The other being that UK and Florida are the only schools in the SEC that are ever any good once basketball season rolls around.

  2. oruacat2 - May 29, 2013 at 1:37 PM

    Don’t get me wrong, UL has a great fanbase (they are, afterall, still located in the hoops-crazy state of KY), but a good argument can be made that UK fans outnumber them IN THEIR OWN COUNTY.

    Also, check this out:
    2012 School G Attendance Average
    1. Kentucky 18 426,978 23,721
    2. Syracuse 19 448,736 23,618
    3. Louisville 20 430,052 21,503

    The above-cited study only covered 2001-2011, but in 2012, UL’s BEST season in a long time and UK’s WORST season in forever, the Wildcats STILL had a higher average/game. UL drew a few thousand more fans total, but that was with 2 extra home games.

    Seems worth mentioning.

    • fsquared15 - May 29, 2013 at 2:34 PM

      No good argument can be made to say that UK has more fans in the Greater Louisville and Jefferson County area than U of L fans. Please …. let this myth die! The Courier-Journal did a large survey about three years ago, with the results showing that Jefferson County had about 35 percent UK fans. U of L accounted for more than 60 percent, and the last small 5-10 percent of people surveyed said they rooted for another team.

      And your statement that U of L is always slightly below UK in attendance is a moot point, because both have been top 5 in attendance for the last 40 years, and U of L’s arena has always seated slightly fewer fans (currently 22,000 to UK’s 24,000). Also, you must be young to say this was UK’s worst season ever. There have been many worse in the past.

      U of L is the top money maker in all of college basketball, and it’s not even close with the increased revenues of playing in the Yum Center. This played a key role, I’m sure, in the article. Chill out, UK fans. Sheesh!

    • court47115 - May 29, 2013 at 9:02 PM

      Keep in mind it’s not the biggest fan base, it’s the best.

    • saviormoney - Jun 3, 2013 at 11:29 PM

      Louisville fans are NOT outnumbered in Jefferson County, especially now. You do have about 5% or so (educated guess) that flip flop between one or the other depending on who is better (I know that it is punishable by death but I have seen it happen more than once) and UK does own the rest of the state but Louisville fans outnumber UK 2-1. You do see ALOT more UK fans in Louisville than you do UL fans in Lexington but to say that we are outnumbered in our own county is nonsense. And how was 2012 UK’s worst season? If you are referring to the 2012-13 season, it wasnt their worst either and if that is the worst one that you remember, you should Google Eddie Sutton

  3. steviebrondon - May 29, 2013 at 2:02 PM

    Kentucky fans saw they weren’t #1 and skipped the end of the article, ha.

  4. kcroyal - May 29, 2013 at 2:06 PM

    Pretty sure KU has the most passionate fans in sports, sorry.

    • saviormoney - Jun 3, 2013 at 11:51 PM

      I am by no means a UK fan but if you are talking about who is more passionate, KU doesnt hold a candle to UK. As a matter of fact, I would put Kentucky, Louisville and Indiana above KU. My friend had an uncle that shot himself when Bobby Knight got fired. How many suicides were there in Kansas when Roy Williams left? Just look at the comments on this blog. Close to half of them are UK fans whining about not only the fact that they dont top the list but also about the fact that Louisville does. I get sick of UK fans either talking trash after a win or whining after a loss. In their eyes, UK has never had a legitimate loss in their entire history. Its always one of 2 excuses, either the other team hit a bunch of “lucky” shots or the refs were out to get them. While I may never understand why most UK fans can never just admit defeat, I will say that the most passionate college sports fans reside in the Commonwealth. Louisville fans are constantly having to plead our case because our arch rival happens to be the winningest program in history but we are the champions until a new one is crowned and no one can say otherwise. Regardless of which side of the fence you are on, no one outdoes the UK/UL fanbases

  5. uncw00 - May 29, 2013 at 2:24 PM

    Good lord, is it any wonder why people can’t stand Kensucky fans, just read the comments. I guess fans of Louisville, UNC, Duke, etc just don’t really care about their teams, at least that what a Kensucky fan would have you think.

    Get a life!

    • fsquared15 - May 29, 2013 at 2:37 PM

      Great point, uncw00. UK fans can’t handle being second in anything, hahahahaha!!

      • saviormoney - Jun 4, 2013 at 12:06 AM

        No they cant and I will tell you that there has never been a better time to be a Louisville fan. We also play this other sport called football. With our football team beating a SEC team in the Sugar Bowl and our mens AND womens teams going to the Final Four with the mens team winning the national championship, UK fans (atleast the ones that I deal with on a daily basis) have been pretty quiet. With the class that they have coming in, UK fans have been talking about the upcoming season, which is a nice change of pace from hearing them constantly talk about the past. It was getting to the point where I was going to suggest that their games be played on the History Channel

  6. blugreg1 - May 29, 2013 at 2:45 PM

    Yea, we Kentucky fans are over the top about our basketball program! Study didn’t upset me because, first of all, it is someone’s opinion. Secondly, based on their parameters basing it on revenue it probably accurate. Louisville is raping the state of Kentucky with the lease on the Yum Center getting most all revenue from concessions, parking and gate plus the liquor sales inside. They also block any events in the center that might interfere in the least with men’s and women’s basketball. The biggest joke on the list is Texas! The Texas and UCLA game last year had probably 1100 people at it played in Texas!

    • saviormoney - Jun 3, 2013 at 10:56 PM

      They base this study off of overall revenue vs. expected revenue when a team isnt doing well. Texas is one of those bandwagon football schools that has apparel everywhere. You can go to a Footaction or Champs anywhere in the country and find Texas gear. I know for a fact that they still sell shirts, hats, hoodies, etc. during basketball season even though the people buying these items are most likely supporting the football team

  7. bluegrasspat - May 29, 2013 at 3:12 PM

    If revenue is the basis of the rankings then I’m curious how revenue was calculated. So when someone buys a Texas shirt/hat, how is that decided if it was related to college basketball or football? Texas basketball showed this year that they had little fan support by their low attendance but they’re tops in fan revenue?? As bluegreg mentioned, just over 1k showed up to the game against UCLA. Also, this revenue ranking shouldn’t be decided by how good of a deal the school bargained with the state-owned arena.

  8. skwerl2013 - May 29, 2013 at 3:41 PM

    @bluegreg, you couldn’t be any more wrong on almost every statement. First of all the YUM center has nothing to do with Louisville’s seat at the table profit-wise on a national scale. This past year they were 16th in the nation, including football and basketball figures, among all schools with most of those ranking above them being SEC football programs. All 15 ranked above them were football programs so that just shows the financial viability of their hoops program. Now to discount the rest of your “facts”: Louisville was 20th on the list their last season in Freedom Hall so to say that the YUM Center is the genesis of their financial prowess is flat out wrong. As far as the state of Kentucky being raped by the lease, wrong again. The state of Kentucky has not had to pay one dime in to the YUM Center situation. Will they have to sometime in the future when the bonds are called to the table? Perhaps, but the state and taxpayers haven’t footed any bill or felt the squeeze of any finances concerning the new arena. Now for the biggest myth of all. “Louisville sells liquor, that is why they make so much money. Sob sob sob.” Not true. The TOTAL amount of concessions reported on last year’s financial statement was approx. $483,000 or somewhere in the neighborhood of 2.5% of their reported earnings of their basketball program. Parking? Have you even seen or been to the YUM Center? The on site parking is tiny and insignificant. The City of Louisville, not the University of Louisville, benefits from the parking as almost all parking for the arena is in lots and garages in the surrounding area owned either privately or by the city. And the last piece of junk about ‘blocking’ events? What a joke! They get to schedule their home games first. That is 3 months out of the year that they get first choice of dates. That comes to approximately 40 or so days out of 365 that they are ‘blocking’ events. Damn! They are screwing the arena with that 10+% of days they are blocking events, huh? Kentucky has a great program with great (albeit paranoid, based on your ramblings) fans. The writer of this article said their list was based on specific criteria and even made a point to concede to UK at the end of the article. But that just isn’t enough. You still have to perpetuate the myths that “some” UK fans “want” to be facts . . . but really aren’t. It is just a list on some insignificant web site. Really not much of a reason to create a bunch of false statements to support your feeling of being disrespected by the writer.

    • jacpepsc - Jun 1, 2013 at 10:44 AM

      “It’s something we don’t brag about but you’ve all seen it. We made $40 million last year,” head coach Rick Pitino said. “I think the next nearest was $29 million. . . and I don’t want to say it’s because of alcohol. Nobody sells alcohol but us, but that’s the reason. We don’t like to brag on that, but we are the thirstiest city in America.”

      Agree state of Kentucky hasn’t subsidized Yum but Metro Louisville taxpayers are eating up about $10 million annually to support Yum operation and the Cards $40 million revenue. Lower bond rating will likely make Yum a continued drain on the local economy and government services. That makes for great fans, spoiled citizens.

      And the basis for fan rating discredits any reasonable logic except for $85000 corporate suites, $15,000 season tickets, and $35 student tickets dollars spent. Best indication would be that of SeatGeek, that compares secondary market demand for fan tickets. Only NC and UK seats aveage over $200, UofL around $70, Arkansas under $50. Maybe Harris should do a real poll for America!

  9. garywayne60 - May 29, 2013 at 4:58 PM

    Well, one thing is for sure Hog fans are definitely “fair-weather” friends. We stick by our guys and gals no matter what.

  10. garywayne60 - May 29, 2013 at 5:00 PM

    Restated Correctly from previous post:

    Well one thing is for sure Hog fans are NOT “fair-weather” fans. We stick by our guys and gals no matter what.

    • saviormoney - Jun 3, 2013 at 11:58 PM

      I will give you that but is there really anything else to do in Arkansas?

  11. txverymale - May 29, 2013 at 5:41 PM

    In all fairness to the Kansas Jayhawks the sentence in the article that states ” It’s sole purpose is to figure out which fan base is still spending money when their team is bad” explains why KU is not on the list, they haven’t had a bad season since James Naismith coached……. unlike all other teams on the list…

  12. bdnnbd - May 29, 2013 at 9:17 PM

    No, it’s not the best fan base. Nor is it the highest revenue-generating fan base. It appears every critic here doesn’t fully understand the study. In a nutshell all it’s showing is what fan bases draw the most proportional revenue across seasons of very disparate levels of success. An interesting bit of information, but nothing to take a stand over.

  13. bowwserr - May 30, 2013 at 1:15 AM

    Haha! I’m sorry, but from a die-hard Texas fan living in Austin, UT has no where near the best fan base. So many UT fans are fairweather, it’s not funny. Only show up if Colt McCoy is on the field or Durantula is on the court. Sad really.

  14. oruacat2 - May 30, 2013 at 2:58 AM

    Not upset at all – this “study” is really too stupid to upset any UK fan.
    Seriously, by what criteria are these fanbases judged? It just makes no sense that UK leads in average attendance/game 9/10 years during this “study” and they’re only the 7th best? Silly.
    If revenue is weighed more heavily, that’s a product of ticket prices and contracts between the school and the arena where they play, not the fanbase.
    I’d also like to know how the annual game in Louisville was counted, if at all. Was it considered a home game for UK? Here’s some of the atttendance figures for the last 7 of those games:
    2010-11 vs. Notre Dame — 17,404
    2009-10 vs. UNC Asheville — 15,368
    2008-09 vs. Appalachian State — 10,173
    2007-08 vs. UAB — 14,241
    2006-07 vs. Chattanooga — 11,641
    2005-06 vs. Iona — 13,794
    2003-04 vs. Austin Peay — 11,526
    That’s UK playing in UL’s arena – think any of those 6 schools above UK on this list could manage that year in and year out – playing a game in their rival’s gym? Maybe, but I doubt it.
    Dauster tried to throw those clowns a bone with his “attendance even during bad years” caveat, but even if that’s the case – what of the Billy Gillispie years? UK still led the NCAA in attendance.
    What about all the Tubby Smith years with ten losses? UK still led the NCAA in attendance.
    Is it about exceeding expectations? That wouldn’t make any sense, either.
    It’s just a dumb “study” – seemingly designed ONLY to annoy UK fans, and that’s okay, too – just admit to it.

    • saviormoney - Jun 3, 2013 at 10:43 PM

      but we all admit that UK has the best traveling fan base. If you can make up close to half the fans in the Georgia Dome for the SEC tournament, you should have no problem making the short drive to Louisville. They play that game to accomodate the fans that live in the Western part of the state that may not be able to make it to Lexington for whatever reason. It is relatively unique. The only other school that I know of that has played home games on a rivals floor is Indiana when they used to play 1 home game a year at Hulman Center in Terre Haute on the Indiana State campus. Its well known throughout the country that UK travels very well and it is also a known fact that as soon as you leave Louisville, you enter “Cat Country”. The surrounding area (Mt. Washington, Shelbyville, Bardstown, etc.) is full of UK fans and a home game is played in Louisville every year to accomodate those fans as well as the fans within Louisville. Everyone acknowledges that UK fans travel well and I dont believe that 1 home game a year played in Louisville is going to make much of a difference in this study. I came across this post while looking for a place to plead my case for UK/UL as the greatest rivalry in college basketball and when I saw that the Louisville fan base was ranked higher than UK’s, I knew that there would be a bunch of angry UK fans on here trying to discredit the statistics, like always

  15. bdnnbd - May 30, 2013 at 11:17 AM

    Copy & paste my previous post again for this sap.

  16. metalarmdad - Jun 4, 2013 at 8:02 AM

    Say what you want, Kentucky Wildcats are the Commonwealth’s TEAM. As for me Louisville isn’t part of KY. The city thinks it is “above” the rest of the state. I was born and raised in Western Ky and worked in E-town early in life for the KSP. At that time Jefferson Co. & Louisville didn’t want the Ky State Police to have any authority in their area. It was like we don’t need your help so keep out. It may have changed now I don’t know. KY is my home state but I haven’t lived there in 40yrs. and most likely will never live there. My parents, grandparents and family is buried there. Pitino did a lot for KY basketball and I think him but he knew when he came to Louisville that he would be hated so Live with it Rick plus your “Table Affair” is a slam on You, Your family, State of KY. but the worst part is that U.L. praised you for this by giving you a raise and contract extension. Just goes to show that U.L. has “No Morals” This is just my opinion.

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