Its a very interesting question!!!
The industry standards track several numbers. These numbers are pretty standard throughout most sports.
There are four numbers that all vary depending on the event, the venue and who is paying attention!!!
The "drop count" is the actual number of people that walk through the turnstiles. The greatest number of people in the building at any time during the event. This number includes every person in some buildings it may even include the staff.
The "sold" number, which is the number of tickets actually sold for that event. This is not to be confused with the number of suite ticket holders that are sold as a package for every event in the building and issued tickets for all those events. Technically they aren't specifically sold for that event but are accounted for differently than as a prorated amount for the number of games. The "tickets sold" category would include, season tickets, presale tickets and walk up or day of game tickets sold.
"Tickets issued" is the number of actual tickets that are in the market place, whether they are sold tickets, comp tickets, suite tickets or other tickets. This is how most sports teams or concerts track attendance. The accumulation of all these tickets makes up what is evaluated as a good attended game or poorly attending game. Sometimes all those tickets aren't used but at least each ticket is accounted for and are available for use.
Comp tickets or complimentary tickets are looked at in several ways, all teams have comp tickets in every sport, the key is to limit them or use them as wisely as possible. There are always tickets that are included within sponsorship deals, these are called Corporate tickets. For example, one of our great sponsors, Frontier Airlines, is alloted a certain amount of tickets per game as part of their package, they decide how they are given out, we just make sure they have them. These tickets are very valuable to the sponsor and to us, they are given a dollar value when the accounting is done on the sponsorship deal but are listed technically as "comp" tickets. Players, as part of their compensation are allotted 8 tickets each for the home team and 4 for the visiting team for every player on the roster. Referees are also given tickets. Comp tickets are also used for promotional purposes, a deal with a radio station to promote the team is given tickets as part of that reciprocity deal. These tickets are also used for school appearances in our fan development department and for charity groups that can't otherwise see games for our community relations department. Occasionally we will target certain groups that have not attended games before in an effort to introduce them to the product, these are arbitrary and the smart teams makes sure it only happens once and that those are very limited. We try to be that smart team!!
The last number is the "announced attendance", this is the number that makes it to the media, in our league, through the pointstreak statistics. In every building in every sport, that number is arbitrary. For most teams that number is based in fact, sometimes it isn't. I will tell you that the drop count number and the announced attendance number never match. Most of the time the announced attendance is indicative of the tickets issued number. We assume that most people will use the tickets they have, most of those tickets are paid for so if you realize the revenue then you are entitled to include them in the announced number. There is no universal audit process for this number so it is what the individual team decides it is.
Our building holds 18,007 seats, however, during any given game a number of seats might go unsold because they are single seats. Most people want to sit with the group of people that they come with so inevitably you have open seats throughout the building. When that happens people may choose to buy those seats and sit separately or they will buy standing room only seats or SRO so they can stand together. Announced attendance could include those SRO seats as well but you would never see those people occupying a seat.
The thing that we truly measure ourselves with is ticket revenue per game. This is a very simple measurement, how much did you generate per game in ticket sales, including walk up, suites, season tickets and pre sales. But that is a much larger discussion for another day.
With the Mammoth, we have always prided ourselves on having an affordable ticket. To provide great entertainment value at a reasonable price level is always our goal, we hope we are attaining that goal and work daily to improve the product and the entertainment for every dollar that our fans spend.
I get a kick out of reading posts from people outside of the Denver market that mock us for having a $5 ticket. Of course that ticket is an important aspect of how we sell the game, affordability!!! Getting people into the game once is the biggest challenge, if we can do it with a $5 ticket in the upper corners, I can almost guarantee that most of those people will come back and buy a better ticket in the future. This is a small investment in the future of the franchise. Considering there are only 1000 available $5.00 seats in an 18,000 seat arena, I am thrilled that we offer those tickets and many times fill them.
I would rather sell those seats at $5.00 than sell half of them at $10.00, more people in the building exposes more people to the sport and creates a far greater atmosphere.
And to all you people that are attending tomorrow night's game...bring two friends that haven't been to a game before. There are plenty of good seats available!!!!!