It is time for the early look at some of the attendance figures around the league. As I note every year, my intent is not to take shots at any team’s fan base. It is just a view into how teams are drawing at the gate, which has always been important in the NHL compared to other leagues.
League Wide Attendance
On the surface, attendance is down ~1% year over year. That decline is not too bad considering most major sports leagues are seeing more aggressive declines. However, when you dig a little deeper there are three teams that reduced arena capacity since last year (Bruins, Blues, & Calgary).
Team by team change in Average attendance
Not a lot of surprises in the changes in attendance by team with on-ice performance being one of the leading indicators on attendance. With a somewhat obvious assumption being, the better the team does on the ice, the better it does at the gate. There can be a lag for that impact to take place. The best example is the Edmonton Oilers. Edmonton started much better on the ice than expected this year, but their attendance has been down year over year. The increase in attendance should catch up as excitement for the team catches up to their on-ice performance.
Percent of games that are sold out
Another metric to investigate across the league is to look at the percentage of games that are sold out. In a league where historically over 50% of the games are sold out, there is less opportunity to move the average attendance. Therefore, you need to identify other metrics.
Again, not a huge change year over year. If you look at it by team, it gets a bit more interesting.
Some of these numbers could fluctuate a little because of the quantity of home games in October this year over last year. Here is one last detailed view of how all the teams are trending season over season.