November NHL Attendance Report: Numbers still strong

November proved to be another good month for the NHL reported attendance numbers. Attendance was up 1% compared to games in November of 2011 and is up 2% for the first two months of the season compared to 2011. 2% might not sound like much but in a league where half the teams sellout every team, that is significant. Big gainers for the month were the usual suspects and the ones with the most opportunity for improvement: Dallas, Phoenix & Colorado all had increase of over 15% in November. They are also the top 3 teams for the full year to date. On the other side of the equation is Florida, Ottawa & St. Louis that were down 9%, 12% and 13% respectively.


Senators get the dubious honor of falling from the ranks of the Sellout Team group and are the only Canadian team to not sell out every game.

St. Louis

Last month there were several of us that speculated St. Louis was off due to the Cardinals playoff run but that was for October as November proved to be just as daunting. I looked at opponents and Day of the week and there was nothing that stood out. There were two Thursday games (Calgary and Colorado) that drew under 15,000 compared to their normal 18,000+ they were averaging in years prior for Thursday games in November. They had 3 Saturday games in November that were roughly 5% off their average. Any theories?

Here is the Illustration on days of the week for St. Louis for October and November games

Here is how the Blues games have stacked up to the averages against those same opponents of the last 5 years:

Only the Nashville matchup stands out as “out-performing”.


I know there are a lot of people out there that are convinced that the NHL cannot work in Glendale. Two months don’t necessarily prove long term sustainability but you have to be impressed with what the new ownership group has done in such a short period since purchasing the team. Coyotes are up an impressive 21% compared to October and November of 2011. Last month the Coyotes had 2 of the top 5 biggest games for November since the Coyotes started playing in Jobing.com arena.

Top 5 Games in Attendance during November since Jobing.com opened:


There was some press last week on the Blue Jackets poor gate performance to date but the reality is they are up 3% through November compared to October and November of 2011. However, they were down 3% if you isolate November. Here is a look at the Blue Jackets Seasonality.

Final thoughts

I know this isn’t perfect since this is reported attendance and not butts in seats but it is consistently reported this way over time and it is all we have. Attendance is one component but there are price points to consider as well. I.e. the Islanders might have 25% lower attendance than Ottawa but the Islanders average ticket price is 55% higher and therefore bring in more revenue. Secondary ticket markets and ticket giveaways make this tough to nail down but attendance is up rather broadly and that should be considered positive for the league.

As always, let me know if you have any questions.

UPDATED: 9:20 PST on 12/5/13

I received several questions on Dallas and what is driving the spike. For one, it’s not sustainable. October and November of 2011 were brutal months for Dallas and it was right when they transitioned to the new owner so I imagine there wasn’t much Sales and Marketing going on before the season. We should expect to see decent growth in Dec, Jan and Feb but it might taper off.

Here is the seasonal month by month view of Dallas Attendance over the last 5 years.

John Barr