Recent studies of the demand for sports clearly indicate that stars play an important role in promoting fan interest. However, on theoretical grounds it is controversial if a star’s talent superiority and/or a star’s popularity drive match attendance and hence
increase gate revenues. Using longitudinal match attendance data of all clubs in the first German soccer league in a 9-year period, the authors analyze star attraction of national superstars and of so-called ‘‘local heroes’’ defined as the most valued players of teams without national superstars. The authors find empirical evidence that these groups differ in the way they attract fans: whereas superstars enhance attendance both at home and on the road, the star attraction of local heroes is limited to home games.
In addition, superstars attract fans by outstanding field performances, whereas local heroes facilitate fan support by mere popularity.