I’m a big Harry Potter fan. Despite my plan to purchase Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows after waking up on Saturday morning, I could not resist temptation and found myself in line at Kroger at 11:55pm on Friday night. Coincidentally, I had purchased Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix at this same store four years ago, and there were only about five people in line then. On Friday, there were about 50 people there. I’d hate to have been at the nearby Barnes & Noble.
Anyway, when I wasn’t sleeping or playing with the kids on Saturday, I read the book. I finished it about 24 hours after making the purchase (I loved it!). I did not even think about turning on the Braves game, which is rare for me. I don’t think I’ve missed a televised Saturday game in a long time. Given the popularity of the book, I wondered how many others did the same and if this had an effect on alternative forms of entertainment, like baseball games.
The league averaged 39,110 fans at the ballpark on Saturday. Last season, these same home teams averaged 38,003 for Saturday games in July. That’s an increase of 2.9 percent over the 2006 season. Attendance is up this year; but, because of scheduling differences and other problems, isolating how much attendance is up is difficult. Looking at the 2006 and 2007 seasons through July 22, game attendance is up about 4 percent—1.1 percentage points more than this past Saturday’s increase. Assuming that the league’s attendance would have been four percent higher than it was in July 2006, Harry Potter cost teams an average of 418 fans per game—a total of 6,270 fans. Using average ticket prices this translates to about $138,000 in lost gate revenue. Add in concessions and the losses are still small. The biggest impact probably occurred with in television watching—these are the marginal baseball watchers most likely to skip a game for book—but I suspect the effect there was not all that large either.
In any event, these numbers are rough (jagged is more like it) and just for fun. Speaking of fun, I feel like I need to read the book again.