Actual attendance at Magic games plummeted in 2012-13 season

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ORLANDO, Fla. - The Orlando City Soccer Club and Orlando Predators have recently been accused of inflating their attendance numbers. But a public records request by WFTV shows they aren’t the only franchises with misleading statistics.

According to the Orlando Magic more than 720,000 fans attended games at the Amway Center during the 2012-13 regular season. But the actual number was lower.

Much lower.

About 22.3 percent lower.

The discrepancy in the numbers is common in sports. Teams and leagues report attendance numbers based on all tickets distributed. Including tickets given away to charities and those purchased even if the buyer never shows up.

The actual numbers collected by the City of Orlando are based on tickets scanned at the door.

For the Magic, 161,152 of the tickets distributed went unused last season. That’s about 3,942 per game.

According to the attendance announced by the Magic, every game last season had at least 16,000 fans. But the actual attendance, according to city records, shows that only five of the 41 home games hit that 16,000 mark.

26 games had fewer than 14,000 fans. And the Magic failed to draw more than 11,000 fans twice.

The Magic had their lowest attendance in their third home game when they hosted Memphis on March 3 with just 10,431 fans walking through the Amway Center doors.

They had their highest attendance, not surprisingly, against the Los Angeles Lakers on March 12. That was Dwight Howard’s first game back in Orlando since forcing the team to trade him to L.A. But even Superman’s return wasn’t enough to draw a sellout.

18,198 fans were there to boo the all-star center. About 1,000 fewer than the number the Magic announced that night.

On average only 13,652 seats were filled for Magic games in their third season at the Amway Center. Leaving 5,194 seats empty.

Those numbers are a steep decline from their first year in the half-billion dollar arena. In 2010-11 the Magic averaged 17,093 fans according to city records. Two seasons later the number declined by 20 percent.