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Survey: Nearly Half Of American Sports Fans Travel Abroad To Attend Games

New research reveals the extreme lengths fans go to see their favorite teams play live, including international travel.

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.

Red Sox fans erupt after relief pitcher Yacksel Rios (foreground) struck out the final Yankee batter in the ninth inning to end the game, giving Boston a 9-2 victory as well as a sweep of the New Yorkers. A few Yankees fans are in the photo not looking as happy as the people around them do. The Boston Red Sox hosted the New York Yankees in a regular season MLB baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston on June 27, 2021. (JIM DAVIS/GETTY IMAGES) 

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 quarter-finals 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.”

Fans have often traveled to rival games to cheer on for their teams in hostile environments. 

For example, fans of the Los Angeles Dodgers will go to Oracles Park in San Francisco to cheer on their team when the Dodgers play their NL West rivals, the San Francisco Giants. New York Yankee fans will often travel to Fenway park in Boston to cheer on their team when the Yankees play the Boston Red Sox, who are their rivals in the AL Easter.

It is often the case for rivalries whether it is in the NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA, or in the MLS. Rival fans at rival stadiums are usually the case whether its division, conference, or inter conference rival games.

Produced in association with SWNS Research

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