Wednesday, March 28, 2007


A Brief Look at Post-Lockout NHL Attendance

by Jes

I was looking at the NHL attendance figures provided on, as I periodically do, just to see any possible trends and items of note.

Here are the figures from 2005/06 compared to this season's numbers.
Jes Golbez

  • The overall average went down, but I wouldn't put any stock into that number. We know that some teams were padding (and still are) their attendance numbers with freebies and big discounts.

  • The 'worst' Canadian team for attendance is the Edmonton Oilers, with an average of 16,839 which fills 98.5% of their stated capacity. Yes, even the worst Canadian teams fill the building on a regular basis.

  • The one crappy team doing great at the gate is the Philadelphia Flyers, who suckered a lot of their fans into renewing season tickets, despite a big price increase, by banking on the fact that their veteran-laden team would be competitive. Did anyone expect the Flyers to tank out quite this bad? It'll be interesting to see if they experience a huge drop-off next season.

  • The Nashville Predators have made some modest gains at the gate, but one of the best teams in the NHL is still struggling as they rank 23rd in attendance.

  • It's amazing just how quickly the Blues fans jumped off of the ship. To their credit, the ticket prices are high and the product quality has been low. Still, with a good new coach in Andy Murray, I would hope to see better support next year. The Blues have been pretty competitive since the coaching change.

  • It looks like Caps fans aren't buying into the Ovechkin+filler product, as their attendance still wallows near the basement. I wouldn't advocate ever moving the Crapitals, but their fan support has got to improve eventually. The Caps have had a hard time being a strong market at the best of times, and now they've got one of the more bankable stars in the game.

  • Carolina made a nice leap after the Stanley Cup win, with an increase in ~2,000 per game. If they miss the playoffs, will they dip right back down? It's likely.

  • Now that Colorado is surely out of the playoffs (Greg, you know it's true), just watch their attendance dip about 1,000 per game next season. These fans have been spoiled for a decade, and now we'll see their true colours.

  • Phoenix - You want to talk about inflated figures? There is no way in Hades that Phoenix draws 14,000 actual human beings to most of their games. From my brief experience, I know quite a few rich peeps down there are inclined to buy seasons tickets and not go to the games all too often. Hockey isn't working in Phoenix for a variety of reasons, but don't expect the NHL to move this franchise any day soon.

  • Chicago - How low can they go? How long will the NHL allow Dollar Bill Wirtz to continue killing this franchise before they step in?
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    Bill Wirtz has been there 43 years.

    Does that answer your question?

    I'ts pathetic that they haven't done anything, but what do you do after 40 years? What can you do?

    Actually, forget that, they just need to do a couple things at a time. Start by mandating he get home games on TV. They should at least be able to do that.
    I'm confused by this 98.5% business. Rexall's capacity, as far as I'm aware, is 16,839. Did they forget to update their capacity numbers when they yanked a couple hundred seats for luxury boxes? I mean, they've sold out 81 of 82 home RS games since the lockout.

    Also, Calgary's numbers are definitely wacky. They must've forgotten to mention that they reopened the nosebleeds for the '04 playoff run, which increased their seating capacity by around 900 seats.
    Sorry Jes, I have to disagree with you about a projected drop in attendence next year for Colorado. The late but alas not good enough surge by the Av's to make the playoffs has demonstrated to the Colorado faithful that the future is bright for their club. Presently on a scorching 10-1-2 streak to finish up this season, the second leading scoring club in the west and third highest in the whole freakin NHL has shown there's a very real possibility of a strong team being developed for next year... and the fans know it. If they can get their defense and goaltending straightened out. The record setting performance this year by rookie Stastny and the continuing development of Wojtek Wolski and other rookies bodes well for this young team. There may be a slight dip but I doubt it. Like I said, their recent stellar performance which has put them 9 games over .500 in a tough division I think has given most Av fans a positive take on the future prospects of this club. More so than they had going into this season.
    1. Why do certain teams have attendance over 100% of capacity?

    2. Nashville will always have a problem as long as they are in their current division; Atlanta and Carolina need to make more frequent appearances (neither has played 'Ville since the lockout).

    3. When it comes to picking on teams, the Canadian press/hockey intelligentsia love to pick on Atlanta and Nashville...has anyone ever paid attention to Jersey's attendance? They've lagged both the ATL and Nashville the past two seasons! It's surprising that a team so successful on the ice plays in front of that many empty seats night after night (except when they host the Rangers)--and this is not a new occurence, this has happened for years. Could it be because of: 1)The style of play Lamoriello dictates from up top, and 2)Lamoriello's refusal to market players? But they've always gotten a free pass from the hockey press.
    I'm not sure how buildings report capacity...maybe the Fire Marshalls dictate it, or ESPN doesn't have the most recent figures...

    Devils - Yes, they have been given a free pass, and I didn't mention them... McMullen wielded so much power that the NHL would never dare move that franchise. The Devils are also notorious for having one of the worst PR departments in all of hockey (one reporter called up and the PR director told him to fuck off, to put it mildly)

    Now that the Devils are getting a new arena that isn't in the middle of nowhere/swamp, we'll see if the team actually starts getting some fans. Otherwise, they are the Atlanta Braves of Hockey.

    Wirtz - Back when hockey salaries were low and tightly controlled, and before the TV explosion, Wirtz's tightfisting didn't hurt the club nearly as much. It's too bad he's such a dinosaur and has killed the youth base of their fanbase... the ones who go to the games are the diehards and tend to be older. The NHL needs to step in and boot him out, because Wirtz has killed one of the best sporting markets for NHL hockey.
    (Chicago gets amazing AHL attendance...)

    Colorado - We'll wait and see... the team has been spoiled and fans may not react well to MISSING the playoffs.
    Get off the soapbox jiz, colorado was one average goalie away from making the playoffs and you know it unfortunately we had neither. Just thank your lucky stars roberto came to town or your boys would be lookin at the golf course after being ousted by the avs (again) and the avs fan will be just fine if we do lose a few fans (good riddence) we didn't want them anyways, plus they were the wine and cheese homos that buy the season tickets and don't show up you know kinda like in your house. We need more room for the real fans that were pushed out when the can was built anyways.

    We will be just fine jiz (book it)
    and alberta is canadas wealthiest province, unlike vancouver where you go downtown B.C and you literally have to run over homeless people to get past a green light....and fuck you you dont know anything about the fans in edmonton, except the fact that they are loyal, and fuck, does the security SUCK at G.Ms place, they let you take weed in there, no wonder why all the fans are either drunk, high or want to fuck anything that skates. ~~~MEET YOU IN HELL!~~because i co-found it!
    I HOPE ALL YOU FUCKERS CAN SWIM, but we wont let you assholes in! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH~~~~im drunk...:(
    holy crap man, .....thank you alcohol, we wouldnt have such bizzare comments otherwise
    I realize I'm late to the party, but anyone who lives in The Gravel Pit or Horse Turd City should not be commenting on Vancouver. And I'm from Alberta.
    We'll see how loyal Edmonton fans are next year when the Greasers get off to a 1-10 start.
    Countdown to Save the Oilers, Part II: 13 months.
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