With the WHL playoffs starting up, I thought it would be fun to look at the WHL regular season attendance numbers.
Overall the league attendance was down 1% year over year for the second consecutive year.
Prince George, Edmonton, Vancouver and Red Dear are driving the numbers lower while the Kootenay and Swift Current are offsetting some of those declines with huge growth year over year. 39% and 25% respectfully.
% change doesn’t tell the whole story because Kootenay and Swift Current have relatively low attendance numbers and remain in the bottom 3 in attendance in the league. While Edmonton has declines but still have the highest average attendance in the league.
As you can see by the visual, Seattle and Everett remain in the top half of the league for attendance. Both had strong years with 3% and 5% increase year over year. Seattle’s growth this year has been impressive considering they lost several talented skaters (including Future Calder Trophy winner, Mat Barzal) and are generally considered a team rebuilding.
If you are interested in how the other teams are doing since 2010-11 Season, I created this visual to show the % change in relative terms. Interesting that there are only a handful of teams, Including Seattle, that have more growth years than declining years.
I also teased out the hypothetical regional TV markets with WHL teams to see how those teams draw compared to the rest of the league.
Impressive to see that both Portland and Spokane are in the top 5 in attendance. The existing hockey fans in those markets should create a great foundation for potential NHL TV ratings.
After doing this analysis I found myself asking for more. A key question I would love to answer is how many unique fans attend games per year. (i.e. the average is ~5,000, per game but over a season, how many different fans coming through the gate.) This metric could be a potential indicator of how many hockey fans already exist in their respective markets. Unless you work for the team, getting access to that data will be next to impossible…..but I won’t rule out doing some kind of modeling to project those metrics.
If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask.