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NHL Attendance Mid-Season Report

As we head into the homestretch of the NHL Season, I thought I would take another look into the attendance figures across the NHL. Attendance alone should not be the only metric used when evaluating the financial success or health of a sports franchise. Ticket prices, sponsorships, and TV agreements can greatly offset any perceived shortcomings in attendance. Attendance naturally ebbs and flows with wins and loses of a franchise.

League Wide

Through the January games, the average NHL attendance is down .8% compared to the same timeframe as last year from averaging 17,299 compared to 17,446. The percent of sellouts is down year over year from 63% to 52%.

There are 80 fewer sellouts this year than there were last year at this point. This is being driven by some of the traditional big name teams that are under performing on the ice and ultimately hurting attendance.

Team Performance

When evaluating average change in attendance, Colorado & Carolina are leading the growth teams while Ottawa, St. Louis and Buffalo have seen the largest decrease year over year. You can chalk that up to teams over performing and under performing on the ice compared to last year.

Pure Growth & declines is not everything when evaluating attendance. Percent of capacity is another way to evaluate attendance health. Carolina might be leading in growth but they are only averaging 74% of capacity through their 25 home games this season. Again, I am not trying to dump on Carolina. They are turning it around and there is a lot to be happy about when looking at team performance on and off the ice. If you look at December and January home games, they are over 80% of capacity.

New York Islanders

During the offseason, the New York Islanders announced they would be playing roughly half their games at the renovated Nassau Coliseum. To date, 17 of the Islanders home games have been at Barclays and only 7 at the Coliseum. That balance flips for the remainder of the season with 13 of the 17 games being played at the Coliseum. It’s a good thing since they are averaging close to 26% more fans at the Coliseum. (For those wondering, capacity at the coliseum is 13,917)

Team Detail

Below is some detail on each team’s performance to date.

There are a lot of assumptions and logic built into the analysis that may need tweaking but if you have any specific questions or feedback, please let me know in the comments section.

John Barr
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