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When some sport is "losing attendance numbers", what does "numbers" refer to? I can't find a good definition in dictionaries that would fit this usage.

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It's a form of metonymy. The "numbers" refers directly to the number recorded of attendees, and hence indirectly to those attendees themselves.

They are not losing numbers, they are loosing attendees, but this is spoken of metonymically as "losing numbers".

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