2013 NHL Attendance Numbers

Here is my 2013 wrap up report on NHL attendance…(The entire post is replicated over at 3rdlinegrind.com. I try to make that other site my posts that are non-Seattle centric…like this one but a get a ton of traffic here by people searching for “NHL attendance”.)

Following a trend that was spotted early in the year, Average Attendance ended up 2% which might not be that impressive for some but remember that a good portion of markets sell out every game which means that attendance can not increase for half the teams. There are only 15 teams with “Attendance Volatility” in 2011-2012 so only those 15 can really impact the overall numbers. Attendance was up 4% across those 15 teams. 6 of those 15 saw 5% increase year over year and 10 of them saw at least a modest increase over 1%. Only 2 of the 15 (Columbus and St. Louis) saw declines of 1% of more.

What is one of my posts without some graphs?

2013 Attendance Change

The more important metric is capacity % and sellout % by team. League all up

  • · As a whole, of the 720 Games in the Season this year, 491 of them were virtual sellouts.
  • · The LA Kings have joined the ranks of the season long sellout.
  • · Nashville & Tampa Bay sold out 20 and 21 of their 24 home games Not bad for the sunbelt/non-playoff teams.
  • · New Jersey had good numbers with 18 of 24 games being sold-out.

Here are how the rest of the teams sellout % look…

sellout% by team

One thing I enjoy doing is digging into some of the specifics. I isolated Columbus and the Islanders to see how their attendance over the Season as they were both in a battle to get into the playoffs. AS you can see and as expected, attendance increased as the season went on and games mattered more and more for getting into the playoffs.


Phoenix also saw attendance increase over the season. They had the 2nd biggest increase in average attendance for the year at 12%.


 And since I have the data, I isolated volatile teams only (which includes LA) to take a look at capacity by day of the week and month. As expected, Fridays and Saturday games draw the best and later in the season tends to do better. Note that January only includes a few games per team and I imagine fans were really starved for hockey hence the higher capacity % in January.

Capacity by Day of the week

Would love to hear your thoughts and if you have any special requests on ways to slice the data let me know.

2 thoughts on “2013 NHL Attendance Numbers

  1. Good post, but keep in mind that looking at attendance numbers without looking at ticket prices limits the usefulness of the exercise.

    For example, Winnipeg has an arena size of 15,004 (smallest in the league) and sold out each game this season. Comparing attendance numbers only, the Coyotes average attendance for 2012-13 of 13,923 is only 1,081 less than Winnipeg on average. That’s only a 7.2% difference in attendance.

    However, 15,004 tickets sold (in reality, probably around 500 are complimentary) in Winnipeg generates nearly 3 times the revenue than Phoenix based on average prices. As such, from a revenue perspective, Winnipeg (Ticket revenue of between $1.1-1.3million per game) generates over twice the amount of the Revenue per game than Phoenix does (Ticket revenue of $500,000 per game).

    What would be interesting is to look at attendance from a revenue perspective, since the NHL is largely a gate driven league.

  2. Totally agree Adam. I might be able to integrate the Average Ticket Prices somehow but with a variable pricing model that several pro teams are going to these days it might not be that accurate.

    Like you said, Gate revenues account for 40% of team revenue and most Canadian teams are over 50%. In 2012, Winnipeg had twice the gate revenue than Dallas, Phoenix, Tampa Bay & Florida. As a whole, Winnipeg had 20% more revenue than the Coyotes.

    The key is growth and the more people seeing the games the better. Until you have a lot of sellouts you greatly limit the ability to raise prices.

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