By Marie Haaland // SWNS
Almost half of American sports fans have traveled out of the country to see a game, according to new research.
The survey of 2,000 self-identified “sports fanatics” looked at the extremes that respondents are willing to go to, in order to see their favorite competitions live and in person.
While 45% have left the country to see a game, results also found that 35% have specifically planned a vacation based on when and where their favorite team is playing.
And the same number have taken a spontaneous trip to see their favorite team in action.
Commissioned by Visit Anaheim and conducted by OnePoll ahead of the start of Major League Baseball’s season, the survey looked at the rise of sports tourism, and the dedication of fans.
Results found the average respondent would be willing to travel five hours and 48 minutes for a game — and they’d spend $762.20 for tickets.
One respondent admitted they missed their friend’s wedding to see their team play, while another traveled 10 hours to another state.
A third person drove two hours, then sat through three flights and a train ride — all in order to get to the stadium where their favorite players were participating in an All-Star Game.
“Whether fans have it on their bucket list to visit every ballpark in the U.S. or they plan an annual trip around seeing their favorite team play, sports venues are not just filled with locals and home team fans anymore,” said Jay Burress, President & CEO, Visit Anaheim.
The survey looked not only at the lengths people would go to see their favorite sport, but it also dug into sports history, highlighting the greatest moments of all time.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s bicycle kick in the 2018 Champions League quarterfinals was voted the single greatest moment.
That was followed by Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God” goal and the “Goal of the Century” in the 1986 World Cup Final, with third place taken by Liverpool beating AC Milan in the Champions League Final from 3-0 down (2005).
Over half (52%) of fans surveyed have a favorite team, and of those, 52% said they watch every single one of their team’s games.
Forty-two percent of those with a favorite team aren’t picky — they’ll watch any sport when any team is playing. On the other hand, 40% will watch any sport, but only when their favorite teams are playing.
And it might not be for their favorite team, but 44% already have a trip planned in 2023, to see a specific sporting event.
“There’s nothing quite like seeing your favorite team play in person, and sports are a great thing to plan a vacation around,” said Burress. “Still, it’s good to head to a destination where there’s something for the whole family to enjoy, and where there are a variety of activities nearby so you have options once you’ve finished cheering your team on at the stadium.
“When the Anaheim Ducks play a local team like the LA Kings or the Angels play a drive market team like the San Francisco Giants, Anaheim is seeing out of town fans turn into vacationers as their getaway experience extends beyond the sports venue and into hotels, restaurants and attractions.”
THE “GREATEST SPORTING MOMENTS” OF ALL TIME
- Cristiano Ronaldo’s bicycle kick in the 2018 Champions League quarterfinals
- Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God” and “Goal of the Century” goal in the 1986 World Cup Final
- Liverpool beat AC Milan in the Champions League Final from 3-0 down (2005)
- Usain Bolt winning gold in the 100m at the London 2012 Olympics
- Muhammed Ali’s ‘rumble in the jungle’ win over George Foreman (1974) — tied
- The Los Angeles Rams becoming the second consecutive Super Bowl champion to win the big game in their home stadium (2022) — tied
- Kobe Bryant’s scoring 81 points in a single game in 2006
- Mbappe's comeback hat-trick in the 2022 World Cup final
- Tiger Woods winning the Masters in 2019, his first major victory in over a decade
- Michael Phelps becoming the most decorated Olympian with 22 medals
- Michael Jordan’s “The Flu Game” in 1997, where he scored 38 points while suffering from the stomach flu
- Serena Williams winning her first Wimbledon title in 2002
- Jackie Robinson’s major league debut, breaking the color barrier — tied
- The football World Cup taking place in Qatar — tied
- Leicester winning the Premier League in 2016
- Michael Schumacher’s seven World Championship wins in Formula One Racing
- Tiger Woods winning the 1997 Masters and hugging his dad — tied
- David Beckham's star-making goal from the halfway line against Wimbledon in 1996 — tied
- TIED Wayne Gretzky breaking the all-time scoring record and getting the title “The Great One”
- Jenson Button and Brawn GP winning the Formula One world championship (2009)
- The Anaheim Ducks becoming the first team from the west coast to win a championship in the NHL (2007) — tied
- The “Bloody Sock Game” in the 2004 MLB American League Championship — tied
- The “Miracle on Ice” in the 1980 Winter Olympics
- Game 6 of the 2016 NBA finals, Lebron James’ historic comeback
- The first Olympic Games in ancient Greece in 776 BC
This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 Americans who self-identify as “sports fanatics” was commissioned by Visit Anaheim between Feb. 8 and Feb. 10, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).