Jump to content

Hockey Attendance Figures, 2006-07


Mac the Knife

Recommended Posts

I took a look at NHL attendance figures for 2006-07 for the first time today. For all those who rail about so-called "traditional" hockey markets being more supportive of their teams, it kind of surprised me that the numbers didn't necessarily back that up in some cases.

Montreal and Detroit are #1/2 in average attendance, to the surprise of, well, no one. Third place might surprise you though... the Tampa Bay Lightning. Wait a minute. Tampa? That's not a traditional hockey market! It's in the south! Shouldn't they be drawing, y'know, around 1,500 a game? In 4th is the Toronto Maple Leafs, a case where the convergence of hockey-mad Canada and a long tradition results in success at the gate. In fifth is Ottawa, which doesn't have a long NHL tradition with its current franchise but would considered a traditional hockey market.

The next five aren't traditional hockey markets but one could see based on geography, team tradition or other factors why they rate where they do: Calgary, Philadelphia, Buffalo, Vancouver and Minnesota. At #11 is the New York Rangers, an "original six" team that has the benefit of pulling from a metro population roughly 25 million strong. At this point we hit a cut-off of sorts. Each of the above teams is listed at or near 100% attendance, indicating that the numbers you see are the best they'll be, barring a new facility or seating configuration.

The next four surprised me: Dallas (at 96.5% of capacity), Colorado (97.9%), San Jose (99.5%) and Carolina (92.5%). First, all but Colorado are in either the south or California - long bad-mouthed by purists as bad locations for franchises... and yet these teams outdraw two of the original six and other locations which are considered "acceptable" by some for teams to be located: New Jersey, Washington, Long Island, St. Louis. What's more surprising is my hometown team in Raleigh - despite stinking up the ice after their Stanley Cup win last year, are still 15th in attendance, and still have room to improve. Should the team market effectively (they don't) and build a winning tradition rather than have 2005-06 be a one-shot Charlie, they could be a Top 10 market.

Starting off the bottom half are Edmonton, LA, Columbus, Pittsburgh, and Anaheim. Edmonton could draw more if they had more seats to fill. LA and Columbus have room for improvement in attendance but considering each is in a location where hockey's not historically been front and center its not bad. Pittsburgh's situation has been nothing short of frenetic this year but they still draw.

The next five has among it a surprise, at least to me: Atlanta, Florida, Nashville, Phoenix, and... BOSTON? BOSTON? That bastion of hockey fandom? 25th in attendance? 78.3% of capacity? Drawing nearly 3,000 fewer fans than Carolina? Wow. So much for traditional hockey markets. The final five also surprises: New Jersey is 26th (winning Stanley Cups apparently hasn't helped attendance), Washington, the Islanders (25 million people within a 75 mile radius and they can't draw 13K a game?), Chicago (William Wirtz... enough said) and St. Louis.

Anyway, in looking at the above, I can see where some could argue that Atlanta, Florida, Nashville or Phoenix don't deserve NHL franchises. But from now on, let's (1) leave Tampa, Dallas, San Jose and Carolina out of the equation - if you draw fans in the top half of league attendance and you're talking about contracting the franchise, the entire league's in trouble; and (2) add to that list Boston, New Jersey, Washington, the NY Islanders, Chicago and St. Louis. If these "traditional" hockey markets can't draw fans to the degree that teams like Atlanta, Florida, Nashville and Phoenix can, then by the argument that some use to excise these new teams from the league, these old ones should be contracted as well, right?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 41
  • Created
  • Last Reply

The next five has among it a surprise, at least to me: Atlanta, Florida, Nashville, Phoenix, and... BOSTON? BOSTON? That bastion of hockey fandom? 25th in attendance? 78.3% of capacity? Drawing nearly 3,000 fewer fans than Carolina? Wow. So much for traditional hockey markets. The final five also surprises: New Jersey is 26th (winning Stanley Cups apparently hasn't helped attendance), Washington, the Islanders (25 million people within a 75 mile radius and they can't draw 13K a game?), Chicago (William Wirtz... enough said) and St. Louis.

It also doesn't help that the Bruins were really the only viable professional sporting entertainment after the Patriots lost to the Colts, with the Celtics absolutely sucking, and still no one watches.

Reminicing with some friends the other day of growing up on the south shore, we were talking about just how cool the Bruins were and how cool hockey was around here. The Bruins teams of the late 80's threw mid 90's had some great characters and were just fun to watch, those boys are long gone though. With the Cam Neely's and Ray Bourque's gone, so too is the interest in the Bruins. Poor on ice showings in the new millenium, the lockout, and the Pats and Sox being on fire, have all but shot the B's in the back.

The Bruins and Celtics used to absolutely dominate the Boston sports landscape, now it's the Sox and Patriots dominating, and it'll be that way for a long time with the way the B's and C's management have been operating.

Traditional hockey market? Sure, but "tradition" only goes so far. This next sentence is like comparing apples to oranges, but would the Yankees be the Yankees if they just flat out sucked? No.

Many things have contributed to doom hockey in Boston, none of which are reversable anytime soon.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've said it before, and I'll say it again:

Official NHL attendance numbers are not the whole story. You must take into account paid attendance - numbers that aren't always easy to find.

For example, Nashville has poor attendance to start with at just over 15,000. But numbers it looks a whole lot worse when you consider that over 2000 of those tickets are give-aways. These numbers are available for Nashville because their poor attendance could result in the Preds activating an escape clause, allowing them to break their arena lease and leave Nashville.

I would be very interested in seeing paid attendance figures for the rest of the NHL. While hockey may be healthy in Tampa Bay, I simply don't believe that they are selling out every game. When watching NHL highlights, I see empty seats all over the place.

Perhaps everyone is in line at concessions or in the washroom?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Where's this thread coming from?

Anyways -- NHL attendance numbers are a load of crap, unfortunately... I really wish they would just tell us the amount of tickets sold instead of what they do, "tickets in the hands of the people".

A team could sell 1000 tickets to a game, then give out 18,000 and it would count as 19,000/game on the NHL attendance chart.

The only number I ever heard regarding this was Nashville hands out 2,600 (somewhere around there) tickets a game, meaning their actual tickets sold is around 12,000

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Where's this thread coming from?

Anyways -- NHL attendance numbers are a load of crap, unfortunately... I really wish they would just tell us the amount of tickets sold instead of what they do, "tickets in the hands of the people".

A team could sell 1000 tickets to a game, then give out 18,000 and it would count as 19,000/game on the NHL attendance chart.

The only number I ever heard regarding this was Nashville hands out 2,600 (somewhere around there) tickets a game, meaning their actual tickets sold is around 12,000

Every sport uses tickets distributed for attendance. And every team in every sport comps tickets.

I would be very interested in seeing paid attendance figures for the rest of the NHL. While hockey may be healthy in Tampa Bay, I simply don't believe that they are selling out every game. When watching NHL highlights, I see empty seats all over the place.

[sarcasm] Well that's a full proof way of judging attendance. [/saracasm]

I can assure you that pretty much every seat in Tampa is filled. Sure there might be a few season ticket holders that don't go to a few games but for the most part that building is full for every game. Guess you need a figure out a better way of judging attendance than by just watching highlights where you only see 3 or 4 rows of the crowd.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Where's this thread coming from?

Anyways -- NHL attendance numbers are a load of crap, unfortunately... I really wish they would just tell us the amount of tickets sold instead of what they do, "tickets in the hands of the people".

A team could sell 1000 tickets to a game, then give out 18,000 and it would count as 19,000/game on the NHL attendance chart.

The only number I ever heard regarding this was Nashville hands out 2,600 (somewhere around there) tickets a game, meaning their actual tickets sold is around 12,000

Every sport uses tickets distributed for attendance. And every team in every sport comps tickets.

What's your point?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Where's this thread coming from?

Anyways -- NHL attendance numbers are a load of crap, unfortunately... I really wish they would just tell us the amount of tickets sold instead of what they do, "tickets in the hands of the people".

A team could sell 1000 tickets to a game, then give out 18,000 and it would count as 19,000/game on the NHL attendance chart.

The only number I ever heard regarding this was Nashville hands out 2,600 (somewhere around there) tickets a game, meaning their actual tickets sold is around 12,000

Every sport uses tickets distributed for attendance. And every team in every sport comps tickets.

What's your point?

Comps may not be the most valid argument for what is a good hockey market.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Where's this thread coming from?

Anyways -- NHL attendance numbers are a load of crap, unfortunately... I really wish they would just tell us the amount of tickets sold instead of what they do, "tickets in the hands of the people".

A team could sell 1000 tickets to a game, then give out 18,000 and it would count as 19,000/game on the NHL attendance chart.

The only number I ever heard regarding this was Nashville hands out 2,600 (somewhere around there) tickets a game, meaning their actual tickets sold is around 12,000

Every sport uses tickets distributed for attendance. And every team in every sport comps tickets.

What's your point?

Comps may not be the most valid argument for what is a good hockey market.

Why not? Because other sports do it too? That has nothing to do with judging a hockey market.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Where's this thread coming from?

Anyways -- NHL attendance numbers are a load of crap, unfortunately... I really wish they would just tell us the amount of tickets sold instead of what they do, "tickets in the hands of the people".

A team could sell 1000 tickets to a game, then give out 18,000 and it would count as 19,000/game on the NHL attendance chart.

The only number I ever heard regarding this was Nashville hands out 2,600 (somewhere around there) tickets a game, meaning their actual tickets sold is around 12,000

Every sport uses tickets distributed for attendance. And every team in every sport comps tickets.

What's your point?

Comps may not be the most valid argument for what is a good hockey market.

Why not? Because other sports do it too? That has nothing to do with judging a hockey market.

Because every major league team in North America does...which includes hockey teams.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

While I do believe those figures are a decent reference, I think you have to look at a larger sample size before making any conclusions. For instance, the Blues have drawn poorly this season & last season for sure, but that is due, in large part, to the ownership transition & the purging of the team. Not to mention the previous owner's inclination to increase ticket prices regularly. Prior to the lockout, you'll find the Blues in the top 10 for many seasons despite regular playoff appearances by the Cardinals & Rams. How many seasons of poor attendance does it take before declaring a market a wash? I don't know, but I hope it isn't two.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can assure you that pretty much every seat in Tampa is filled. Sure there might be a few season ticket holders that don't go to a few games but for the most part that building is full for every game. Guess you need a figure out a better way of judging attendance than by just watching highlights where you only see 3 or 4 rows of the crowd.

What is YOUR basis for this? Empty seats on TV are hard to miss. And they're not just the first few rows - they're all over the place.

But, I figured I'd check for myself. I checked Ticketmaster online for Lightning tickets just now (about 14 hours before their upcoming Saturday night game). I was able to find 8 consecutive seats together for every price range but one. In the upper bowl I was able to find 20 seats together.

So, I must conclude that either the Lightning have massive walk-up crowds that fill in all these empty seats, or they simply don't fill the arena the way they claim they do.

Combined with the empty seats on TV, I'm inclined to believe the latter.

Because every major league team in North America does...which includes hockey teams.

You're simply missing the point. Some teams, like Edmonton, Detroit, Toronto, Minnesota, etc. give away a few dozen tickets every game as promos for various reasons. And some teams, like Nashville, Phoenix, and others, give away thousands of tickets in a desperate attempt to get people into their building. Apples and Oranges.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Where's this thread coming from?

Anyways -- NHL attendance numbers are a load of crap, unfortunately... I really wish they would just tell us the amount of tickets sold instead of what they do, "tickets in the hands of the people".

A team could sell 1000 tickets to a game, then give out 18,000 and it would count as 19,000/game on the NHL attendance chart.

The only number I ever heard regarding this was Nashville hands out 2,600 (somewhere around there) tickets a game, meaning their actual tickets sold is around 12,000

Every sport uses tickets distributed for attendance. And every team in every sport comps tickets.

What's your point?

Comps may not be the most valid argument for what is a good hockey market.

Why not? Because other sports do it too? That has nothing to do with judging a hockey market.

I'm curious, Chris. How do you judge a hockey market?

You're simply missing the point. Some teams, like Edmonton, Detroit, Toronto, Minnesota, etc. give away a few dozen tickets every game as promos for various reasons. And some teams, like Nashville, Phoenix, and others, give away thousands of tickets in a desperate attempt to get people into their building. Apples and Oranges.

I still don't see your point. What's wrong, exactly, with a team giving away tickets to get people in?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I still don't see your point. What's wrong, exactly, with a team giving away tickets to get people in?

Thousands of free tickets given away. People still don't show up. Why is there a hockey team in Nashville again?

Edit: The real point is that published attendance figures are bull :censored: - and the more tickets are given away the bigger the lie. Ticket giveaways conceal when a hockey team is struggling drawing fans.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I still don't see your point. What's wrong, exactly, with a team giving away tickets to get people in?

Thousands of free tickets given away. People still don't show up. Why is there a hockey team in Nashville again?

Uh, it isn't like the building is completely empty. What's your cut-off, then, for getting rid of a team? There are teams that draw way worse than Nashville. Are you getting rid of them, too? If so, so long Blackhawks, Capitals, Islanders and Blues.

Edit: By the way, you didn't answer my question. The question was, what's wrong with a team giving away tickets?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

See my edit above

Yeah, I give up. That's not answering my question. You're saying what you want people to hear.

I see no problem in a team giving away tickets, or selling them at a greatly reduced price, if it allows people who might not otherwise go to be able to attend. Word of mouth is great, advertising can work on certain levels but getting people to actually experience an event has no substitution. Seattle always has ticket deals, coupons, giveaways to get people to come to TBirds games. Is the attendance number a lie? Absolutely. But what they lose in money, they gain in recognition by the casual fan who was lured to the game by a free/inexpensive ticket. That's something that will stick in the back of the person's head. It's not going to make them an immediate season ticket holder but now, when given the choice of events on which to spend their money, the local junior team may now be given consideration where they weren't before.

Also, you didn't say anything contradicting my earlier statement so I guess you're happy to take away teams from Chicago, St Louis, Long Island and Washington, D.C. Kinda hypocritical, no?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You're simply missing the point. Some teams, like Edmonton, Detroit, Toronto, Minnesota, etc. give away a few dozen tickets every game as promos for various reasons. And some teams, like Nashville, Phoenix, and others, give away thousands of tickets in a desperate attempt to get people into their building. Apples and Oranges.

I still don't see your point. What's wrong, exactly, with a team giving away tickets to get people in?

I think the point being made is that teams are giving out tickets for different reasons, and some teams are getting nailed for it, while other teams are getting a pass. IE, The Leafs giving away tickets to under privaledged youth or disabled kids, vs. mass free tickets to the general population.

Ticket stats are extremely hard to judge how well a team is doing with this variable in mind.One way or another, you want people at the game, and as teh owner, you want them paying to be there. It's a huge trickle down effect. When people BUY tickets, it generates revenue. When they are given away, the team doesn't get a whole lot back. Yes, it is more people buying food, and souvenirs, but they still didn't pay to get in.

Some advertisers are going to look at these numbers and start wondering if their investment is worth their hard earned dollars as well. Whats the point in putting ads on the boards of an arena that people aren't going too?

That my take on that comment, and it can happen to any team, be it a reflection of the team's performance, or the general apathy of the city in general. Sometimes you take risks putting teams in new markets. Like the Vancouver Grizzlies. Vancouver in general did not care about the team, so the team up and left while they still had enough money to survive.

Alot of the teams that joined during expansion have been able to generate good fan bases, San Jose, Columbus, Minnesota and now Tampa are the four big examples (left out Ottawa, because it can be easily agrued that Ottawa was already a hockey market prior to the Sens coming in) Fans in Columbus and Minnie are loud, and passionate at games, and that is evident on TV. SAn Jose has been a popular franchise, and now it looks like Tampa has a nice solid base as well.

As long as a market can support the team it's a good choice, but I believe that the problem was the haphazard way that many franchises were thrown into areas so fast. Some expansion happened wile other markets were still being solidified. I don't have an issue with hockey in Florida in general, I didn't like how in two years there were two brand new hockey teams in an untested market. Logic states that one team goes in, and if successful, then you look at adding another. Two teams deludes the fan base in such a market and can seriously affect your chances of success (Though the demographics and geography of Florida were so that the two markets have never really leached off each other for fans, but I believe in the general principal.)

Or in California, you have the LA Kings, a long time, successful franchise, and you drop two more teams basically right on top of that market. Not a very smart move to begin with, but in the end it has worked out, and the Kings and Ducks have a good little rivalry going there.

Ideally you want all of you markets strong, but that just doesn't happen all the time. For teams in their rebuilding phases, fans are going to turn away from a losing team, make no bones about it. The die hards will stay, but the semi-casual bandwagon fans will go spend time and money elsewhere until the team is good again (if ever) Some markets may not be viable too. you can't determine that from a single season standpoint, but over several years it would become more of an evident problem. A team can't keep giving out tickets to fill the arena forever. Short term it would be worth the money to try and draw in new fans. It might create a larger fan base, or the fans might stop showing up when they have to start paying, and decide that hockey just isn't their thing.

And that can happen anywhere, not just in the non-traditional markets (and in Ice Hockey, there is a far greater divide between markets that are non-traditional, and the other Big 4 sports)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

See my edit above

I think your point is that you are another one of the "hockey doesn't belong in the hee haw states" crowd and arguing that Nashville isn't worthy.

For what it's worth, I've been to a pair of Caps games this year (and will be to one more), and the franchise seems to be doing a decent job at selling tickets in the upper and lower bowls-it the middle bowl that seems to be the problem (and yes, I know that the middle bowl is the one that you as an owner ultimately want filled since that's the corporate tickets). I also know that one of the two games I went to (against Carolina) I got in with a comp like a couple hundred college kids (and then either defeated the purpose or made up for getting the comp by buying dinner, a beer, and a blank replica jersey). I know that at the other game (against the Penguins) I went to, they had over 18,000 legitimately, but probably 3000 of that hailed from Pittsburgh. I honestly don't know what to make of Capitals attendance, but it does seem to be up a little this year from what I've heard, and I don't think they're papering the house either. Granted I haven't been to a game against say...Florida either.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.



×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.