Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Attendance by division

It's a little early for a team-by-team runthrough of attendance numbers, but I thought the division numbers were interesting so far:
  1. Northwest, 14 games, 18,248
  2. Northeast, 12 games, 18,134
  3. Atlantic, 14 games, 17,528
  4. Pacific, 15 games, 17,011
  5. Southeast, 18 games, 16,510
  6. Central, 13 games, 16,261
I suppose it's not surprising that the two divisions in which all six Canadian teams play are the top draws so far, but on the low end, it's interesting to see the Central doing so poorly. Detroit and Nashville are off to tremendous starts, but the remaining three teams — Chicago, Columbus and St. Louis — are all going to be bottom feeders in the West this season.

One of the most surprising draws so far is the Florida Panthers, who have had an average of 17,701 fans take in four games so far (good for 14th in NHL attendance). The Panthers drew well in 2003-04 and had a strong preseason, so I suppose it's time they be given more due as having a legitimate, NHL-calibre fanbase in the south.

After being the 6th best draw in 2003-04, St. Louis is so far the 24th. The biggest gainer has been Pittsburgh, who after finishing dead-last in attendance last time around, are in 19th in attendance (which is likely the best they can do considering they've sold out 17,100-seat Mellon Arena in both home games so far).


At 11:32 a.m., October 18, 2005, Anonymous David said...

Those Canadian arenas also have massive capacities compared to some down here. I'm not saying all would sell out the first few games, but maybe capacity % would be a nice tag-along stat.

At 2:54 a.m., October 19, 2005, Blogger Nick said...

I'm not suprised about the Central. While i'm sure detroit packs them in, how many people really care about hockey in Nashville and Columbus? And... I went to a Chicago game before the lockout and the stadium was *empty* because, well, Chicago *sucked*. I wouldn't be suprised if there were lingering "who gives a shit about hockey" feelings in Chicago, especially since from what I've seen, they still don't look too impressive.

At 5:56 p.m., October 21, 2005, Blogger JasonSpaceman said...

James - Nashville also has a small-capacity arena. The GEC only holds 17,113 at full capacity. Even when we're sold out, it's the same as a slow night in Montreal.

Nick - Plenty of people in Nashville care about hockey. Have you ever heard an audio feed from a Predators game? Just because you haven't our team hoist a Stanley Cup doesn't mean they don't have fans. And with Nashville's fast start this season, even people who might not have cared about hockey in the past are beginning to check the team out. The local media are talking about the team like no time before last season, when we made the playoffs.

Nashville has been a hockey town for a long time. Bob Suter, for instance, played for the Nashville South Stars in 1981-82 - a full 17 years before the inaugural Predators NHL season. (The South Stars played a 2nd season in Nashville from 1982-83.) Even further back, the Nashville Dixie Flyers played in the Eastern Hockey League from 1968-71. The Nashville Knights of the ECHL, and the Nashville Nighthawks/Ice Flyers of the CHL were also pretty consistent draws before the NHL came to town - those two teams played here from 1989-1997. Oh, yeah, and the New Jersey Devils almost moved here in 1995 - that would've been a pretty bad business decision if this weren't a hockey town, but I think the Devils would've done just fine down here.

Besides the hockey history of Nashville, something else you may not know is that a big portion of the population in Tennessee is composed of transplants from outside the region, and a lot of them come from more traditional hockey areas. The Saturn plant in Spring Hill is just one example - many of its workers came here from Michigan. Fort Campbell, the local army base, is another - many of the soldiers there come from up north. Just because these people now live in an area that's warm and sunny a lot of the year doesn't mean they don't like hockey anymore.

My guess is that if you investigated Columbus, you'd find reasons that people there love hockey too. You'd do well to check your facts before you go making generalizations about towns you obviously know nothing about.


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