Thursday, March 16, 2006


European Attendance: Feel the Bern

From Eurohockey and the IIHF:

Swiss 2005-06 regular season champion SC Bern has set a new all-time attendance record for a club team in Europe. The club from the Swiss capital recorded an average of 15.994 fans in 22 home games in the 16,789 BernArena, to top all European clubs for a fifth consecutive year. The Swiss league plays a 44-game schedule.

This is the first time a European club closes in on the 16,000-barrier, only a season after Bern became the first club in European hockey to surpass the average of 15,000. The club recorded 15,360 fans per game during the 2004-05-season. In 2000-2001, the season the IIHF started the Top-25 list, Bern averaged barely over 10,000 fans per game.

It was generally believed that the attendance figures in the European leagues would decrease following the extraordinary 2004-05 season when over 380 NHL-players signed with European clubs, but that proved not to be correct. Not only did Bern record an increase, but also the second and third placed clubs on the IIHF-list, Kölner Haie (Germany) and Frölunda Indians, Göteborg (Sweden), had higher spectator numbers than in the previous year.
The Top 25 is pretty much dominated by the evil Swedes, Finns, and Germans with a bit of Austrian and Czech blood thrown in.

For all of the big $$ thrown around by the Russian clubs, only 2 of Top 25 are Russian hockey clubs. Then again, would you really want to watch the type of hockey where a 2-1 game is considered high scoring and offensively loose?

Russia doesn't have large enough arenas to make a dent in the Top 25.
Malkin plays in Magnitogorsk where the rink only holds 3,000 fans. There are only five rinks that have a large enough capacity to enable them to feature in the Top 25.
It's all about facilities. In Switzerland, Germany, Sweden and Finland they have nice new multi-purpose arenas which entice fans. In the Superleague only Yaroslavl and St. Pete's arenas could be considered modern.
If you build it they will come.
I should add that among Top-10 teams in this list Russian Locomotive has the best %-ratio - their "Arena-2000" in Yaroslavl is 98%-packed on an avarage game.
So RSL hockey sometimes is not so boring as you might think sitting in Canada...
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