Saturday, February 28, 2009

Saturday News and Notes

- Greg Sheehan at the Bleacher Report takes a look at what the lockout did for the NHL. Don't think the NHL is the strongest its ever been?
"Premier talent commanded ridiculous salaries, perhaps acceptable in a more marketable sport, and with no ceiling. In fallout, the contracts of medium- and lower-level talents bore higher salaries, and with no regulations on team and individual player spending, the NHL spent more money than it generated.

In the last year before the lockout, the NHL lost $221 million and there was not enough income to support 20 out of 30 NHL teams."

- More issues with the Pink, Grey, and White NHL Jerseys that are sold to target the female audience from a female perspective (Puck The Media). I think its B.S. too.

- I was directed to a new site via e-mail called On Goal Analysis. At OGA, Matt, Eric, and Mike do some serious playoff statistical analysis with some serious (87%, they claim) accuracy. Last season, the Red Wings clinched a playoff berth on March 5, 2008; not according to OGA:
"The Red Wings were indeed the first team in the NHL to clinch a playoff berth. However, they did so on October 24, 2007, not four months later."
- Finally, some NHL commercial clips to ease the eyes on a Saturday afternoon. First one I haven't seen, then a classic:

Maybe something later, but if not enjoy your Saturday.

- Update: 2:30 PM EST

Part 2 of the issues surrounding the Lighthouse Project on Long Island is up. (Let There Be Light(house)). Part 1 here, highlights of part 2:
"As per the Lighthouse, these are the current proposed benefits for the site:
  • 60,000 construction and construction-related jobs
  • 20,000 permanent jobs
  • $20-70 million in yearly tax revenue
It's worth noting, as I've mentioned before, that these are the current proposed benefits. Until the final scope is settled, this is pure speculation, and maybe it should be seen as a "best case" scenario...

In addition, I'm sticking closer to my original prediction. Construction for the new Coliseum will begin next year after hockey season ends, and we must remain vigilant and positive to ensure this date is fulfilled."
Remember, the Lighthouse Project is key for the Islanders to stick around on Long Island and become much more financially sound. Keep an eye on Nick's site if you want to keep updated.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Attendance Statistics Galore (NHL/NBA Update)

As promised a couple of times over the week, here is a look at more NHL v. NBA attendance and NHL month by month attendance. Lets start with the latter.

I decided to look at the month by month attendance this time through the capacity filled lens seeing that the amount of games in each month varies. With the average attendance, December has been the best month so far for the NHL, so lets see if that holds true for capacity (click to enlarge):

Although January suffered a drop in average attendance and total fans from December, capacity jumped as January enjoyed almost a 150,000 more fans than October in just eight more games, which is close to 19,000 spectators a night.

I also took the average of all the NHL Arenas capacities, which is why you see the NHL Average Capacity. The overall capacity game out just below 94% as you can see, but I used the NHL Average Capacity to figure that. When I took the average of all the capacity percentages from the ESPN NHL Attendance page, I got an average capacity percentage of 94.73%. What to make of the difference? Nothing really, as taking the averages of each teams capacity percentage is generally more accurate than averaging each teams arena capacity and using that figure.

Seeing as February is almost at a close, I will update this when we move into March.

As I updated the NHL v. NBA chart in capacity, I figured that looking at the capacities of teams that share venues from the competing leagues isn't exactly fair because NBA teams have more seats to fill as a basketball court is smaller than a hockey rink, duh. So, I took a look at the average attendances of the same teams which share venues, and not much changed:

The switch happened in New York City, where although the Rangers fill the garden in terms of capacity more than the Knicks, more people file through the garden turnstiles when it comes to Knick games. The Kings still outdraw the Clippers, but cannot touch the Lakers as per usual in the capacity sense.

So even though the NBA is outdrawing the NHL in some of the major cities across North America, the NHL is actually out averaging the NBA. Take a look:

One thing the NHL has going for them is that it seems that some of the franchises are much more stable in terms of average attendance than some in the NBA. The NBA edges the NHL by one team in terms of very good average attendance (over 18,000), but the NHL fires back by dominating the middle of the pack (15 through 18,000) 13 to 9.

Do all these numbers really mean anything? Somewhat, yeah. Hockey is generally agreed upon fans as a sport that is much more exciting in person than on TV. These numbers basically support that claim, and the NHL should use them somehow because they know probably a lot more than I do.

Might be all for tonight.

Friday Morning News and Notes

Plenty of news today.

- According to Paul Kelley, the NHLPA Executive Director, the Salary Cap will remain the same or drop next season (Slam):
"He figures the salary cap will be between $54 million and $57 million next season, but he can't say what will happen in 2010-11."
- The Dallas Stars released some ticket pricing information (Dallas Business Journal). Highlights:

• The reduction of the price of 1,303 lower-bowl seats at American Airlines Center, dropping 519 seats in the lower bowl from $55 to $40 and the remaining 784 seats from $73 to $55.

• All of the other season ticket prices are frozen for fans who renew by March 18.

• Fans will get up to $250 credit for food, beverage and merchandise.

• Season seat holders will not pay for this year’s playoff games until the Stars’ 2009 playoffs are over.

• Those renewing season tickets will be eligible for rewards such as double season tickets, tickets to the NHL All-Star Game or Winter Classic, delivery of tickets by a Stars player, and even road trips to an away game on the team plane.

Good deals. One thing that puzzles me is if a season ticket holder does not renew by March 18, does that mean there prices could be going up? Also, its risky, but I really like the credited playoff games. The Stars had a 92% season ticket renewal rate from last season to this season, along with cutting upper bowl tickets by almost 40%, so we will have to see if this plan works out down in Big D.

- The Lightning hack at season ticket prices (Tampa Bay Online):
"The Tampa Bay Lightning are slashing season-ticket prices by an average of 10 percent for next season, with almost 4,000 seats available at the St. Pete Times Forum for only $239...

Almost 1,300 upper-level seats have been reclassified to be included in the $239 season-ticket package that averages out to $5.69, plus tax, per game. Nearly 20 percent of the arena's seats will feature that $239 designation and half-season packages in the same area will cost $149.

The remainder of season-ticket prices in the terrace level will decrease by 20 percent and some season tickets in the plaza level will average as low as $35.69 per game, plus tax."
Those are really low. Along with this, the club is offering an 8 month payment plan and a 3% rebate (in Forum dollars, money you can use at the St. Pete Times Forum) for season ticket holders who renew by March 27.

- Apparently, the Islanders could get off Long Island if they really wanted to, as there supposedly is a release clause that centers around the Nassau Coliseum renovations (
"Once the county executive submits a lease for the 150 acres of county-owned property, the legislature has 120 days to approve it. If it doesn’t, the team can leave...

Nassau County loses between $1 million and $2 million a year on the upkeep of the Coliseum, and Wang loses about $20 million a year operating the Islanders."

Charles Wang also had a candid comment before the Town of Hempstead meeting this week:

“Ultimately, if you don’t want to go to an (Islanders) game because the arena is a dump, I lose, the county loses, everybody loses,” Wang said. “I want this thing to proceed. We can talk and talk, but we’ve got to get off our butts. Let’s get it done.

“It’s a Long Island team. They belong where they are.”

All sorts of news swirling on the Island.

- Finally, Nick at Let There Be Light(house) has a fantastic post on some of the issues that surround the Lighthouse Project. Today he dealt with financing, the delay up to now, transportation, and the Islanders situation with Kansas City. If you want to understand Charles Wang and the Islanders situation and all, take a look at the article.

More later.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

2009 NHL Average Attendance: Month by Month

I changed up my spreadsheet today by applying a color scheme to each teams game by game attendance. I went through each teams schedule, month by month, and applied a different color so I can see (when the end of the season comes) which months were the strongest. So as I wait for the season to end, I figured I would find the NHL average attendance by month through January thus far. It isn't much, but it is nonetheless something new and it will help when it comes to determining the Second Half Attendance Boost and other analysis questions. Take a look (click to enlarge):

Somewhat interesting, ha ha. December is clearly the best month in terms of average and total spectators, but also helped from having the most amount of games during the month. I think something I will tackle tomorrow is finding out the leagues average capacity percentage which will give us a different look at this topic.

Labatt Blue's and Rangers hockey calling, as the Blueshirts blow their 1-0 lead halfway through the third.

Check back tomorrow.

Thursday News and Notes

Couple of quick headlines. I'm pretty busy today but I managed to tinker with my attendance spreadsheet so I can do some new graphs and such; but that will come later tonight.

- Remember the Maple Leafs raising ticket prices for next season on Tuesday? Ken Campbell has a good article at THN in reaction to that. The point of it? Essentially, the Leafs are covering potential gains for not being in the playoffs. Welcome to Leaf Nation...

- Apparently, the NBA is taking parts from last years NHL "One Play/Live Every Shift" promo campaign (Puck The Media).

Like I said, busy for now with a test early tonight, some attendance stuff later tonight.

- Update, 2:00 PM EST:

- Ed Willes makes his case to Gary Bettman to contracting to a 26 team NHL (Faceoff). For some reason, this one line from the article seemed to tickle my fancy:
Still, for all that, the league expends a disproportionate amount of energy propping up its weakest franchises.
I couldn't agree more. He suggests dropping four and moving two, but I don't know about that. If I were to contract I would subtract two and most likely move one or two. I don't know, this topic is really for the long summer days of the off-season where spending too much time in the sun leads to crazy ideas and rants.

More later.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

NHL v. NBA Attendance Update; More Coyotes News

Seeing that a report recently caused some traffic to one of my NHL v. NBA attendance charts, I figured I would update it tonight. The previous chart showed that the NHL was outdrawing the NBA in terms of capacity attendance in five out of the ten markets the NHL and NBA directly (meaning they share the same building) share. This is still as of today, but in Denver the Nuggets of the NBA have recently taken an edge on the Avalanche; as they were previously virtually tied in capacity. Take a look:

As for the Los Angeles situation, I call it a moot point. The Lakers are obviously more popular than the Kings, but the Kings are at least even with or more popular than the Clippers. When I get some time this weekend, I'm going to take a look at comparing these teams averages, as NBA teams typically have more seats to fill in an arena due to the fact that an ice hockey rink is larger than a basketball court.

In other news; Glendale, Arizona is going to be giving the Phoenix Coyotes a break in the form of $15 million a year towards the new lease deal in order to keep the financially struggling club in town ( Along with this, the report states that the Coyotes have received one formal offer to buy the club, and they hope to have a new owner by the 2009 Draft in Montreal:
"Sources also say principle owner Jerry Moyes has had three separate out of state groups show interest with one already making a formal offer. A league source tells Sportsnet they hope to have a new ownership group finalized by the 2009 NHL entry draft in Montreal."
After weeks and weeks of bad news after more bad news for the Coyotes, there is a glimmer of hope in the Desert.

- Update: 8:45 PM EST

According to Red Wings GM Ken Holland, tickets for the Blues and Wings in Stockholhm, Sweden for the NHL 2009 Premier sold out in less than an hour today (Freep)

Well, that was quick.

That's all for tonight, more tomorrow.

Wednesday Afternoon News and Notes

Relatively slow day after a big one yesterday...

- The NHL Network is providing a free preview for six days starting March 2nd through March 7th (Puck The Media).
"The NHL Network will offer a free preview to more than 34 million subscribers of multiple distributors in the United States, such as DIRECTV, DISH Network®, AT&T U-verse, Verizon, Cox Communications, Grande Communications and TVMAX, beginning Monday, March 2 through Saturday, March 7."
Can you say perfect timing with all-day coverage on Wednesday, March 4th; AKA this seasons Trade Deadline? Damn I wish I was home for that...

- After yesterdays step forward for the Lighthouse Project on Long Island, Tom Suozzi, the Nassau County Executive, wrote Nick at Let There Be Light(house) saying;
"...I would like you to know that I am fully committed to the Lighthouse Project and in keeping the Islanders in Nassau County..."
Always a good sign when the top guns support the cause.

- Finally, another NHL Promo, this one featuring Brad Richards and Vinny Lecavalier playing some NHL video games:

I must say, that is how some of my brothers' and mine NHL games finish up...

More later.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Big Day for Lighthouse Project

Today was a big day for the Lighthouse Project, as the Town of Hempstead in Nassau County, New York (where the Lighthouse would be built), discussed and "passed" the Environmental Impact Statement for the project. I say "passed" because there wasn't any vote on it, it was discussed and no major problems arose. Although this is a much smaller part of the process that the project has to go through to be approved and to break ground, it is nonetheless a step in the right direction as the project continues its momentum from the previous news just five days ago.

Below is the upcoming steps that the project will have to complete in order to put shovels into the ground, according to Nick at Let There Be Light(house), who was at the town meeting and actually spoke:
  • Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Submitted (Lighthouse/Town of Hempstead) - DONE as of this afternoon
  • Review period and public comments (Town of Hempstead)
  • Final Environmental Impact Statement and Scope (Town of Hempstead)
  • Approval of Property Divisions (Nassau County Planning Commission)
  • Re-zoning Hearing (Town of Hempstead)
  • Lease Negotiations (Nassau County)
  • Building Permits Hearing (Town of Hempstead)
  • Shovels in the Ground
No word on when the next step is to be finished by, but my guess is that it won't be for a month or so at least. From the article, Nick states that 19 out of 20 people that spoke are in favor of the lighthouse, with the one opposed calling for more affordable housing. He thinks that the groundbreaking will happen next year (which isn't the current plan), but there is still a chance, albeit under 50% according to Nick and his media contacts.

So some really good news, possibly more later.

- Update: 7:00 PM EST

Everyone has told me to get one, I still don't get it though. So if you're a Twitter user and you for some reason read this blog consistently, you're in luck. My Twitter profile is here, and if you scroll a little the last box on the right hand side you can "follow me on Twitter"

Yee haw.

New McDonald's NHL Promo/Leafs Ticket Prices

- McDonald's Canada has more NHL promotion in store for this year, as they have released a new commercial revealing their mini-collectibles:

Funny if you ask me. As you see at the end of the commercial, there are six mini-figurines to collect. I doubt this will run in the United States, but lets hope for some odd reason that it does.

- In ticket pricing news, the Toronto Maple Leafs will be raising prices by an average of 3.5% for next season. Along with this, the 20% deposit for season tickets is non-refundable for the first time.
"Until this increase, we have basically been at 2003-04 pricing with only a 1% net increase since before the lockout," Tom Anselmi, executive vice-president and COO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd, said in an e-mail."
Pay up, Ontario.

Playing Below Capacity: Florida Panthers

Welcome to the eighth edition of Playing Below Capacity, a series here at Puck Money where I've been taking a look at teams (as of December) playing below 85% capacity in their arenas. The previous seven editions can be found here. Today its off to Sunrise, Florida where the Panthers are fighting for their first playoff appearance since the spring of 2000 and are currently ranked 29th in attendance by capacity coming in at 79.1%. However, the Panthers are enjoying a 1.5% gain from their first half average attendance, including a 10.5% jump in the last two weeks as they just wrapped up a six game homestand at the BankAtlantic Center.

*Note: Please remember that I'm a young college kid who thinks he knows what he's talking about. Any "problems" that I suggest the Panthers have are my opinion and are most likely not 100% accurate (but close to it, if I do say so myself). Enjoy and please do comment.

Here are the ideas I came up with that could be problems with getting people to go to Panthers games on a regular basis...
  • Arena Location/Age
  • High Ticket Prices/Poor Promotional Events
  • Metro Population
  • On Ice Product
  • Location/History of Franchise
  • Other
First, some basics about the Florida Panthers (wikipedia):
  • The Florida Panthers began play in 1993 when in 1992 Blockbuster mogul H. Wayne Huizenga was awarded an NHL Franchise. The Panthers entered the league in '93 with the
    (now) Anaheim Ducks. The team is now owned by Alan Cohen and other wealthy Florida-based businessmen.
  • In 14 completed seasons in the sunshine state, the Panthers have made the playoffs three times, twice not advancing past the first round. Their 1995-1996 season was one to remember as the Panthers made their only Stanley Cup appearance.
  • For their first five seasons, the Panthers played at Miami Arena in Miami, FL. In the fall of 1998, the Cats moved to the now-named BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, FL, about 35 miles north of Miami and about 15 miles west of Fort Lauderdale, FL.
  • The capacity for Ice Hockey at the BankAtlantic Center is said to be 19,150 or 19,250 with standing room.
- Arena Location/Age:

The BankAtlantic Center opened in 1998, so being a decade old is not a problem. The Sports Road Trip Guys say the arena is gorgeous, but the location was a poor choice. Lets take a look from the satellite (click to enlarge both):

The BankAtlantic Center is noted by the "A" arrow. The "city" of Sunrise is very much a residential area, or to put it frankly, a giant retirement village. The arena is placed between a swamp and the nations fourth largest outlet shopping mall. With Sunrise only having just over 90,000 inhabitants, lets take a look at where most other Panther fans have to come from to get to Sunrise:

The green "A" arrow represents Miami Arena, the Panthers former home. The "B" arrow represents the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, and the "C" arrow represents the center of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. From Miami to Sunrise is 35 miles according to google maps, or about 45 minutes by car. From Fort Lauderdale to Sunrise is about 15 miles, or 20 to 25 minutes by car. Although I've never been to Sunrise, I have almost no doubt this has an affect on the game by game attendance. The club had five years starting in 1993 to find a new home in East Florida, and by placing the arena in Sunrise, the choice seems rushed. I could not find any articles about the placement choice, but placing the Arena in Fort Lauderdale would have been a much more logical choice. I understand this is easier said than done, but in a downtown setting this arena would have looked great and the Panthers would enjoy at least ~500 more spectators per game.

Update: After being directed to a thread on HF Boards which discusses the location of the BankAtlantic Center or "BAC," many season ticket holders and consistent fans enjoy the arena location because of how easy it is to get to with highways and parking. Although I still think downtown Ft. Lauderdale might draw more crowds, some/most/half of Panther fans do not mind the location of the BAC.

- High Ticket Prices/Poor Promotional Events

One would think the Panthers would attempt to keep ticket prices low to attract more consistent fans, but a Panthers game for the family can cost Mom and Dad a couple of bucks. According to, The Panthers are 11th in the Fan Cost Index for the NHL at $309.44. The Fan Cost Index:
comprises the prices of four (4) average-price tickets, two (2) small draft beers, four (4) small soft drinks, four (4) regular-size hot dogs, parking for one (1) car, two (2) game programs and two (2) least-expensive, adult-size adjustable caps.
Florida's FCI is up 14.1% from last season, along with their average ticket price being up just under 3%, which raises that cost to $52.61 and in turn is just above the NHL average. The Panthers average ticket price is $111.34, which is just under the NHL average. Could these prices affect incoming fans? Sure, but the Panthers are right around the NHL average, which is really all you can ask for.

Although the tickets might be a little high-priced, the Panthers marketing department does a great job of offering great deals to bring in new fans and keep old ones. The most recent is the Panthers Promise Plan; a four game ticket plan where if the Panthers make the playoffs you get priority access to playoff tickets. If the Cats fail to make the playoffs, you get four tickets to the '09-'10 season for free. I'm sorry for the cheesiness, but what a great deal! Along with this, the Panthers have plenty of theme nights, and they have another marketing favorite of mine; the Panthers First Timer Program. The program allows anyone with a Florida Drivers License to apply for two tickets for free to one game. It has drawn some slight criticism as the Panthers are constantly in the rumor mill for giving away a hefty amount of tickets, but I still like the deal as it has the great possibility of creating new fans.

- Metro Population

The "city" of Sunrise has just over 90,000 people. The metro population of the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale area is key though, coming in at just under 5.5 million people ( The city of Sunrise has the second lowest population in the NHL, defeating only the tiny Uniondale. The metro population is a solid one, but seeing that Ice Hockey is a predominately white and non-Hispanic demographic, the Panthers most likely suffer that only about 40% of the population is just that in the South Florida Metropolitan Area.

- On-Ice Product

As I mentioned, the Panthers are looking to make the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons. With the Panthers currently 7th in a tight Eastern Conference playoff race, the Panthers attendance should no doubt benefit from the Cats on-ice play for their remaining 11 home games. Lets take a look at the Panthers attendance compared to their on-ice play (click to enlarge):

The average attendance of just over 16,000 in 2001-2002 was the franchises highest average since its creation in 1993. The fact of the matter is, Southern Florida is a tough market to sell hockey in. An average over 15,500 should be considered a success, and an average over 16,000 is pretty well done. Of course there is always room for growth, but the plan for the Florida heads running the show should be to get back to that 2002 level and stay there for a couple of seasons.

The Panthers are an exciting team on the ice, with young forwards like Michael Frolik, David Booth, and Nathan Horton leading the way. Arguably the teams best player, 25 year old Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, has been thrown around in more trade rumors this season than anyone I can remember. The club has found a successful tandem of goaltenders in Tomas Vokoun and Craig Anderson, both of which should be back for the 2009-2010 season.

- Location/History of Franchise

As stated and with kind of basic knowledge, hockey is somewhat of a tough sell in Florida. Do not get me wrong, the sport does great for its location and history with the area. It definitely has a pulse as the Statewide Amateur Hockey of Florida in in association with USA Hockey along with Florida Scholastic Hockey League, a high school hockey league setup about 11 to 12 years ago. Hockey has come a long way in the state, thanks to the help of the Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning.

- Other

The Panthers are the 24th most valuable team in the NHL at $163 million dollars; which is up 8% from last year. Their value and revenue have risen every year since the lockout, but unfortunately so has the negative operating income, which last season came in a $-9 million. They also have a considerable amount of debt compared to their value, at about 50%. Still, you do not hear much about financial trouble out of the Panthers. Huge losses like the Coyotes are experiencing (that are being reported) are either not prevalent or not being reported. This is good, as it allows fans and players alike to concentrate on the hockey at hand, especially in a such a playoff drought.

- Conclusion

Making the playoffs this season would be a huge help for the Panthers attendance and overall bottom line on the balance sheet. The Panthers do a great job of selling hockey in a non-traditional market, and this should be noted. Still, will the Panthers still be in Florida in five to ten years? I'm not exactly sure. I do not think the Lightning will be relocated because they have won a cup and generally experience better attendance on the west side of Florida. The Panthers attendance is in OK shape, but needs to improve and hopefully will with more of a winning team on the ice as of recent. A good meter for hockey in the Panthers area will be if they make the playoffs, as they should look to pack the BankAtlantic center with Panthers and possibly Lightning fans as well.

Well that about does it for this edition of Playing Below Capacity. Next week we will cover the Thrashers of Atlanta, who are going through a major ownership battle and have struggled on the ice for years now. Please feel free to comment on anything.

Should be more later.

Tuesday News and Notes

Playing Below Capacity: Florida Panthers, will be coming up soon...

- The City of Glendale, AZ has been quietly bailing out the Coyotes for the past several months.
"A record of lease payments by the Coyotes shows the city has been letting the team play virtually rent-free at Arena for seven months. Based on past payments, the break could be worth up to $4 million over the course of a year...

The Coyotes have not delivered the lease revenue. For example, the lease requires the team to pay an arena parking fee to Glendale of $2.85 per ticket sold. That parking fee makes up almost half of the team's $16.8 million in lease payments since 2003 -- $7.75 million to date. But that's $10 million short of the $17.8 million in parking fee revenue the Coyotes were projected to deliver."
What can I say? Something has to be done about Phoenix this off-season.

- Calgary billionaire Brett Wilson is to buy a share of the Nashville Predators.
"We shook hands on the deal -- we just haven't got it papered," Wilson told the Sun yesterday, cautiously optimistic the lengthy approval process is a mere formality..."
No word on how much of a share Wilson would have yet.

- On-Ice Ranger news: the Sean Avery situation should be sorted out in a week, according to Glen Sather.
Sather said he hopes to have Avery's status sorted out within a week. Tortorella has said publicly he is not an Avery fan but Sather said the coach "can learn to love him like I did."

Check back around lunch.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Battle of Florida: Part II

A slow news day led me to re-visit the attendance battle between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers (Click here for first part). The two teams are now very much on the opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of playoff, as the Panthers push for its first playoff appearance in seven seasons. However, Tampa Bay is out-averaging the Panthers by about a 1,000 spectators per game, and fills the St. Pete Times Forum to about 85 % while the Panthers are filling the BankAtlantic Center to 79%.

Let's take a look at the Game by Game attendance for each team (click to enlarge):

As you can tell without even enlarging the graph, the red line (Tampa Bay) easily out-sold the blue line (Florida) in the first half of the season. But, as possible playoff fever takes hold in Sunrise, Florida; the Panther's attendance has actually begun to somewhat stabilize and, to an extent, rise.

Florida is up 1.5% from their first half average, and 10.5 % in the past two weeks (6 game homestand). Meanwhile, Tampa Bay is down 5% from their first half average, but up 1% in the past two weeks as they also finished up a 6 game homestand Sunday.

Now, last time I did this I "concluded" three points about these two southern markets:
  1. The smaller fan bases the two teams enjoy will most likely be much more willing to attend weekend games rather than weeknight games.
  2. Retired diehards that shipped themselves to Florida from anywhere above the Mason-Dixon line will gladly spend their savings on seeing their team.
  3. If there is an promotional event going on, the ticket holders are most likely one and done consumers.
During their recent homestands, Florida and Tampa Bay each played host to four weekend home games ("Weekend" to me (and to sports marketers, most likely) mean Thursday through Sunday afternoon). This undoubtedly aided to their recent attendance figures, along with the fact that a couple of great northern markets came swinging through the retirement state in the shape of Toronto, Boston, and Chicago. That covers the first two points.

I think Florida will win the second half battle of attendance against Tampa Bay because of point 3. Florida can benefit from a great playoff race with ticket offers and bandwagon fans; especially if they make the playoffs. After the season/playoffs, I will take another look at this and we will find out if Tampa Bay hung in there or if the Panthers overtook them.

Playing Below Capacity, Florida Panthers edition, comes tomorrow around noon.

Monday Afternoon News and Notes

- Philadelphia Flyers ticket prices will not be raised next season (Philadelphia Business Journal). I think this applies for all prices after reading the article, but if not the season ticket prices will definitely not rise.

- Yesterday's Pens @ Caps NBC Game of the Week draws a 1.1/3 overnight (Puck The Media).

- Finally, some on-ice news for any fellow Blueshirt fans who follow me here, Tom Renney has indeed been fired (Rangers website). Sather deserves the axe more than him, but this might be a shake-up the team desperately needs. Please lets find someone that can bring in a system where offense is key.

Hopefully more later, but I'm not sure as the family dog was put down today, so I'm not feeling to hot. If I do not return, Playing Below Capacity with the Florida Panthers will be back tomorrow.

- Update: 6 PM:

The Anaheim Ducks jump in the ticket pricing fun, freezing all Season Ticket Plans (include partial ones), concession stand prices, and parking as well.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Second Half Attendance Boost: Part II

Not much news happening today, so I figured I would run the numbers on the second half attendance boost again. I plan to do this every other Sunday. You can view the first part here, and lets remember that for my sanity, the "halfway" point for each team was put at 20 home games. Note: Attendance figures used are updated through Saturday, Feb. 21st.

First, the all-mighty chart:

As you can see, I added a new column this time around, which will show the difference since I last updated the figures. Only one team has dipped since then, the St. Louis Blues; who were joined by the league as a whole cooling off in the past 10 days. The biggest gainers would be Florida, Boston, and Carolina. Florida pulled off a great feat in the past week and a half; going from being down in the second half to being up over 10%. Boston continued its second-half sellout streak, as they have sold out all 7 games since the start of the second "half," while Carolina undoubtedly benefited from Glen Wesley night and have sold out 3 of their last 4 games.

The good news going forward is that the few teams that haven't benefited from the second half boost yet seem to be gaining ground as noted by the positive green boxes at the bottom of the table.

Moving on...

The Edmonton Oilers did a classy thing yesterday for Hockey Day in Canada, bringing 16 kids and (I'm assuming, although it wasn't mentioned) their families from a town 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle to Rexall Place and really giving them the VIP treatment, as you can see here (4:30 mark):

That is how you market the game, U.S. clubs. I understand its Canada and those kids are already hockey fans, but I bet at least a couple if not more will now become Oilers fans because of the experience.

And finally, for your Sunday viewing pleasure, Coach's Corner with Ron MacLean and Don Cherry:

More (maybe) later.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Rumors Go Where Bettman Goes

Wednesday it was Phoenix, Thursday it was Nashville, and yesterday was Carolina. That was the route of Commissioner Gary Bettman, and each day he was in each city stories broke on different NHL franchises and their financial concerns.

Bettman stated yesterday to the Tampa Tribune that the Lightning are fine financially. A little tidbit of detail was shed yesterday by the Tribune:
The team also recently announced that all building employees must pay to park starting March 1 and paychecks to the players - normally direct deposited - were live checks withheld until after 1 p.m. during the past two pay periods. Those situations help churn the talk of financial instability, which Bettman said is unfounded.
Naturally, that might cause some rumors, Commish.

Commissioner Bettman in a press conference you can watch here had a some business news to relay:

- "Real" growth, which was projected earlier at around 7%, is now being projected from 4-5%.
- The test for the economy and the NHL will be the sale of playoff tickets.
- Carolina will get an All-Star game, but he did not say when. (Sporting News, for a link)
- "We're not thinking about an NHL Division in Europe" - Good, to me.
- Bettman would like to see the number of games in the NHL Prmier increase.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Busy Day - Coyotes Update

Sorry about not posting all day, I had a busy day starting in the morning and has really turned sour with some family-related news. Not much to report anyways besides Nashville-relocation rumours that started out of nowhere just because Gary Bettman visited Tennessee and hosted his XM radio show, NHL Hour. (TSN,

Work calls at 3:30, so maybe something later tonight, but otherwise enjoy your Friday evening.

- Update: 10:30 PM EST

Want to buy the Coyotes and move them out of Phoenix? I hope you have at least a Billion dollars...

Mike Sunnucks of the Phoenix Business Journal shed a little more light on the offers to buy the Phoenix Coyotes, claiming there are at least five serious investment group.

In addition to this, most of you know that there is almost no possible way the Coyotes can move out of Phoneix because of its ridiculous lease with the city of Glendale, Arizona and Arena:
Those sources, who asked not to be identified, said the team would have to pay a $750 million penalty if it broke its 30-year lease with the city of Glendale. That factor lessens the possibility of the hockey team leaving the Phoenix market.
Looks like for the time being the Coyotes will remain the Coyotes.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Islanders Lighthouse Project Gaining Momentum?

Chris Botta of Point Blank is claiming that "The Lighthouse project has a healthy pulse." Botta would definitely be one to know, as he was the former Vice President of Media Relations for the Islanders.
Over the last 24 hours, Point Blank received more than a half-dozen anonymous tips in our Inbox that business was being conducted over the plans to transform the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum and surrounding property. When we finally connected with real sources on the side of the developers and politicians, the information was confirmed.
Botta says that the key to keeping this going would be any sort of "news" in the next ten days or so. Because if nothing positive happens by mid-march, there is a real possibility the project may be more dead than it was considered before today.

There have been rumbles that the Islanders might move to Queens, and U.S. Rep Anthony Weinger, who will be running for New York City Mayor in 2010, said:
“I’m looking for the Islanders moving to Brooklyn...”
Well OK then, it is good to hear some positive news on the Lighthouse, as it could really help out the situation on Long Island.

Might be all for tonight; big club hockey playoff game.

Thursday News & Notes

- Rangers/Flyers from last Sunday draws a 0.9 rating. Still up 13% from last seasons matchup of Stars/Red Wings at 0.8 (Puck The Media).

- Let's start the Coyotes fun! After Dredger's original TSN report, Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes did confirm that they have received interest from investors. Yes, there is an s on the end of investors (

- In response to this news, David Shoalts writes an article which, oh how do you say, doubts the situation? (Globe and Mail).
"Who would make an offer on that team?" one source said, referring to the total losses of the Coyotes, said to be as much as $250-million since Moyes took control of them in 2001.
- In response to Shoalts, Odin Mercer writes on how he thinks Shoalts wove his article just to bring out more negativity around the Coyotes. I'm still laughing at the picture at this top of this article. (Five for Howling)

- Rangers @ Bruins is on tap for NBC's Game of the Week next Sunday, March 8th (Puck The Media). This Sunday it is Pittsburgh @ Washington ( I am so far two for two with my Game of the Week predictions.

- Update: 1:35 PM EST

Gary Bettman will host his show NHL Hour today from Nashville.
Members of the Nashville Predators organization scheduled to guest on today's show include Chairman David Freeman, President of Hockey Operations and General Manager David Poile and Head Coach Barry Trotz.
Click here if you want to listen to it at 4 PM EST. Once the NHL Network Online window loads, click on the "NHL Radio" tab and click the first "NHL Hour" tab on the right at the top of the list, and it should load.

I already sent in a question regarding some financial issues, so lets hope we hear some good stuff.

- Seeing that Alex Ovechkin might have had the goal of the year last night, I will leave you with one of his first commercials stateside from back in (I think, not 100% sure) 2007:

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Late-Night Off-Topic News: NBA borrowing $175 Million

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Sports Business Daily, and Sports Business Digest; the NBA is borrowing $175 million which is to be distributed among 15 of its franchises. Where are they getting this money? Check out this quote from Sports Business Daily:
The private-placement deal was arranged by JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America. In a private placement, non-banking lenders such as pension funds and insurers extend the cash, commonly at fixed rates for five- to seven-year terms and at rates higher than what banks offer for floating-rate loans.
Wow. As much as I dislike the sport of basketball and the NBA, this worries me as the NBA is the direct competitor to the NHL. Is the NHL is this bad of shape? From the vibe I've been getting covering the business of the league in only two-three months, it seems as though the NHL is more liquid than the NBA. With over 40% of the leagues revenue in ticket sales last season, how much credit is each team paying off?

Obviously, this is very much inside information, and nothing I could get my hands on without being arrested. Let's just hope the NHL doesn't fall into a similar situation.

NHL a Top-10 Innovative Company in Sports

According to Fast Company, an industry leader magazine which focuses on business, the NHL is #7 on their list of the most innovative companies in sports ( article, Fast Company article). Fast Company seemed to be impressed with the NHL's Internet presence: The challenger brand of sports leagues is becoming quite the creative digital-media company. Free from other leagues' restrictions on video, shows exclusive off-the-ice footage as well as every goal scored.
The NHL shares the list with only one other sport, Ultimate Championship Fighting. Good for the league to gain some recognition, considering that hockey's fan base can be a very critical one of its own game.

- There is one more reason why to buy the NHL Network, as it plans to simulcast CBC's Hockey Day in Canada, which is coming up this Saturday, February 21st. For those of you who have never seen Hockey Day in Canada Programming, it's very well done and celebrates the game well. This year's HDIC is occurring in Campbellton, New Brunswick and will feature all six Canadian teams in a triple header back to back to back.

Here's the CBC Promo for this years day:

- No details yet on the Phoenix story, once again. Frustrating. More (maybe) later.

- Update: 4:55 PM EST:

More '09-'10 Ticket Price News. I'm not sure how I missed this last week, but the Kings are freezing their season ticket prices for holders. No word yet on single-game ticket prices.

The Hurricanes are offering a great deal to their current Season Ticket Holders, a three year price freeze (obviously with a couple of twists):
By placing a 30 percent deposit on their 2009-10 season tickets now, fans guarantee that their season ticket price will not change for the next three seasons, locking them at their 2008-09 price through the 2011-12 season. In addition, the team has made adjustments to how fans can pay for their season tickets, allowing them to spread their payments over an 11-month, zero-percent-interest plan, where installments will be paid monthly beginning with their deposits in March and extending into January 2010.
They also announced a pay-as-we-play plan for the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Good deals all around.

New ESPN "NHL" Commericials

Seeing as the "worldwide leader in sports" doesn't promote hockey, the fact that they use their usually funny "This is Sportscenter" with hockey-themed objects (in this case, mascots) is somewhat of a shock. Below are two "new" ads, I say "new" because I'm not exactly sure when they debuted, but I've seen ad each once in the past two days. There pretty funny as well:

I like the second one better.

No updates that I know of in terms of last nights "offer" to buy the Coyotes as reported by TSN's Darren Dredger. If anything comes my way it will be up ASAP.

More later.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Will the MLS pass the NHL and NBA in Average Attendance?

The Sedin twins kickin' it.

Messing around on the 'net today, I found an article from October of '08 stating that in 2009 the MLS will pass the NHL and NBA in average attendance per game. Naturally, this got my wheels turning, as this is very much a possibility.

Below is the chart that the blog Synthetic Turf provides for their argument:

I thought this might be possible with the relatively old news that Major League Soccer's new franchise this season, Seattle Sounders FC, have sold over 18,000 season tickets for this upcoming season of MLS, and expect to average around 20,000 a game. In 2008, the MLS averaged 16,459 spectators per game; down just about 2% from 2007. By looking at the chart above, Synthetic turf is projecting an average attendance below/around 17,500 per game for the MLS over the summer of 2009. Now I'm not sure what number he used for the new Seattle franchise to come up with a the projected number for MLS in 2009, but using the season-ticket sales number (18,000) for Seattle FC, I came up with the following three projections:
  1. MLS '09 (down another 2%) - 16,885
  2. MLS '09 (flat difference) - 17,229
  3. MLS '09 (up 2%) - 17,574
Remember, that includes the additional 18,000 (which may be bigger) per game that Seattle Sounders FC will account for. Now MLS teams have either 19 or 20 home games depending on their schedule, or roughly half the home games NHL and NBA teams have. Seeing as I don't follow the NBA with enough detail, I won't compare them to the MLS; but I can speak for the NHL.

With all NHL teams having played past the statistical "halfway point" of 20 home games each, I will use this average. According to my excel graph, the NHL average for the first 20 home games, or 300 games this season, was 17,242 per game. Compared to my 2009 projected MLS numbers, only a raise in attendance (1-2%) for the MLS will put them over the NHL average attendance mark. But, this neglects the second half attendance boost the NHL receives, which as of tonight before the games were played was up from 17,242 by a little over 1.5%, or 17,512.

Could the MLS pass the NBA and NHL in average attendance per game? Absolutely. Is it fair to compare these numbers? Absolutely not. The amount of teams (30 for NBA and NHL; 15 for the MLS) along with the number of games (82 each for NBA and NHL; 30 league games each for MLS) make the attendance comparison unfair. If the MLS ever gets near the total fans for each sport (According to my spreadsheet, just under 10.4 million fans went to NHL games in the first "half"), then maybe we will talk.

- Update: 11:35 PM EST

According to TSN's Darren Dredger, an offer has been made to buy the Phoenix Coyotes. Someone must have been drinking somewhere...

More on this tomorrow (hopefully).

The NHL "Brand" is Back

According to Sports Marketing and PR Roundup along with Marketing Daily, the NHL brand is back and stronger than ever. The articles cites changes to the on-ice rules, the NHL's strong Internet presence, and the creation of the Winter Classic as some of the biggest factors in the resurgence.

I did a marketing piece a little over a week ago, which focused on moving forward using partnerships and technology as the catalysts. I might have to look back now on what the NHL needs to stick with so they don't stray away from their target audience in their growth attempts. As the Marketing Daily article puts it:
The NHL has made great strides. But like any reviving brand, the league must guard against migrating too far from its target customer in growing its franchise. Ticket prices, for example, are rising rapidly again, posing a potential barrier to the core fan attendance. And the salary cap per team has jumped from $39 million to $58 million, making it difficult for smaller teams to compete.
I think I will also take a look into how fast the ticket prices have risen since the lockout at some point as well.

In other News, Electronic Arts will be creating a line of athletic toys with Toy Island which will aim to teach kids how to play different sports. Upon further research, I found a little more information on the new series of toys which are set to hit the shelves this fall. This includes:

• A line of interactive training tools featuring voice commands and instructional coaching elements designed to take budding stars to the next level

• A complete game-in-a-box containing all the equipment necessary for kids to practice and play a sport; a line of sports toys that will utilize electronics to reward young athletes with cheers when they use proper techniques

• A basic line of high density-foam balls to help kids develop throwing and kicking motor skills at an early age.

Hockey is amongst the list of sports to be included in the series, amongst Basketball, Baseball, Football, and Soccer. Hopefully more news breaks on this, but if not I will definitely be looking for these sets as I am curious to see what they would do for our sport. I hope the set comes with gloves and does its best to encourage fighting, but that might be wishful thinking.

Playing Below Capacity: Columbus Blue Jackets

Welcome to the seventh edition of Playing Below Capacity, a series here at Puck Money where I take a look at teams playing below (as of December) 85% capacity. The previous six editions can be found on this page here. Today we visit Columbus, Ohio; where the Blue Jackets are fighting hard for their first playoff appearance since their inception in the NHL expansion of 2000. The Jackets are currently 27th in attendance ranked by capacity, coming in at 83%. However, they are averaging just over 15,000 a game, and are seeing over a 15% increase in second half attendance thus far.

*Note: Please remember that I'm a young college kid who thinks he knows what he's talking about. Any "problems" that I suggest the Blue Jackets have are my opinion and are most likely not 100% accurate (but close to it, if I do say so myself). Enjoy and please do comment.

Here are the ideas I came up with that could be problems with getting people to go to Jackets games on a regular basis...
  • Arena Location/Age
  • High Ticket Prices/Poor Promotional Events
  • Metro Population
  • On Ice Product
  • Location/History of Franchise
  • Other
Some basic facts of the Columbus Blue Jackets (wikipedia):
  • The Blue Jackets were founded in 2000 as apart of the NHL Expansion. The original owner, John H. McConnell, died on April 25th, 2008. The team was handed over to his son, John P. McConnell, which went smoothly.
  • In seven completed seasons, the Jackets have yet to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Last season, they came in 4th in the Central Division, with their highest point total as a franchise thus far, at 80 points. The Jackets are currently 8th in the Western Conference, but are subsequently tied for 6th at the same time.
  • The Blue Jackets have played all seven series at Nationwide Arena, which opened in 2000 and was a key component of Columbus receiving a franchise.
  • The capacity at Nationwide Arena for Ice Hockey is said to be either 18,136 to 18,144.
- Arena Location/Age

Nationwide Arena is one of the NHL's nicest arenas according to the Sports Road Trip Guys and ESPN. Being only nine years old this year, I doubt a great stadium experience is driving away fans from Nationwide. Let's take a look at the location (click to enlarge):

The arena is located between the green arrow and the red "A" arrow. I wanted to zoom out so much to be able to show you how much housing area there is around Columbus. To me, it seems like a giant suburb. Nationwide Arena is right in downtown Columbus though, so the location and the arena itself is most likely a definite help in attracting fans, not a detriment.

- High Ticket Prices/Poor Promotional Events

Blue Jackets tickets went up almost 5% this season, but are still a couple of dollars below the NHL average of $49.66, according to The average premium ticket is just under a $100, at $99.84; which is almost $15 dollars below the NHL average of $113.44. The Blue Jackets rank 16th in the Fan Cost Index, which:
comprises the prices of four (4) average-price tickets, two (2) small draft beers, four (4) small soft drinks, four (4) regular-size hot dogs, parking for one (1) car, two (2) game programs and two (2) least-expensive, adult-size adjustable caps.
A "typical" night at Nationwide Arena with the Jackets will cost a family $278.66, about $10 below the NHL average. This figure is up just over 11% from last season, which is the sixth highest jump in the NHL from last season. I think the ticket prices might have something to do with relatively low attendance in Columbus due to the economic recession, but the Jackets are still below the average; which is all you can ask for. To me, if it is possible, it would be smart for the Jackets to institute a price freeze heading into next season as their on-ice product picks up.

The Blue Jackets are definitely not lacking in the promotional department, as they have plenty of great and enticing deals to visit Nationwide Arena. My favorites? The Huntington Green Seats deal, where up to 250 seats are available in the upper level for just $10. My others would be Rush CBJ, a student promotion and the Jackets Night Out Pack, where you can get two tickets, two beers, and two pizzas for $60. Tip of the hat to the Jackets marketing group.

- Metro Population

According to and the Columbus wikipedia page, the population in Columbus is just under 750,000, with the metro around 1.75 million. This is a relatively small metro population for an NHL city, but sports are ingrained in Columbus' genes. As I contemplated with the Carolina Hurricanes, I really think Columbus could benefit from a higher city and metro population.

- On-Ice Product

As stated, the Jackets have not made the playoffs in any of the seven seasons they have played. They are currently in the thick of a tight Western Conference rank, and the Jackets attendance numbers are reaping the benefits. Take a look at what is a great fan base being rewarded with poor on-ice play (click to enlarge):

An expansion market in the top 10, let alone 15, of attendance in its early years?! That's almost unheard of. Columbus is a great market that supports American sports such as football and baseball but also has a fond place for "foreign" sports such as Soccer (MLS' Columbus Crew) and Hockey. The Jackets front office needs to get their stuff in line and put a competitive team for the great fan base in Ohio.

Columbus is really looking good for the future, though. 22 of the 28 spots on the roster are men 29 years old or younger; while 15 of the 28 are 26 years old or younger. They have found the key to a great team in a goaltender named Steve Mason, only 20 years old. Their weakness is defense, but their good mix of young speedy forwards and veteran leadership up front combines to make a great offensive attack which defines a "new NHL" team. The Jackets should have some solid years ahead of them, but the front office will have to be smart on how they spend their money and who to keep when the youngsters come looking for new contracts.

- Location/History of Franchise

Ohio is a great state for sports. Cleveland has the market on Basketball and Baseball, but Columbus currently runs the market with Football (Ohio State), Hockey, and Soccer. Why the people of Ohio love all sports is really beyond me, but Columbus should be a key focus for the NHL in terms of "growing the game," as Bettman loves to hear. There is no immediate NBA threat in Columbus, and with Soccer and Hockey two sports that incorporate much of the same fans, Columbus is a potentially huge market for the league.

Columbus is enjoying huge TV Ratings gains this season, as well. A search at in the state of Ohio returns 59 records of rinks, which shows the game is somewhat rooted into communities around the state. Also, the Miami University at Ohio and the Ohio State division 1 hockey programs are strong and growing, and have made trips recently to the NCAA Ice Hockey Tournament. The location of the franchise is great, and the struggled on-ice history clearly hurts the attendance.

- Other

The Blue Jackets are the 28th most valuable team in the NHL at $157 million. The team grew last year at an annual rate of 6%, and also brought in a revenue of $71 million, but they are still operating at a loss of $7.1 million as of last season. I think with the revival of the on-ice product this season, that loss should not be as big after this season, as I expect the ticket sales to go up along with the brand of the Blue Jackets to reap some benefits.

- Conclusion

Simply put, Columbus management has the ultimate control to steer the team into financial success. Much of the problem is on-ice, as the market in Columbus and Ohio in general is great for hockey. Sure, the franchise would clearly benefit if the metro population around Columbus swelled by another 500 or 750K, but that is wishful thinking. If I was John P. McConnell, I would sharpen up my hockey knowledge as soon as possible, and then put some pressure on General Manager Scott Howson to turn the Jackets into a consistent winner. This should fill the seats night in and night out for years to come.

That about does it here for the seventh edition of Playing Below Capacity. Next week, its down to Sunrise, Florida to visit the Florida Panthers who have been making plenty of noise in the Eastern Conference playoff race. I would personally love to see hockey fever get back into Florida as it did when John Vanbiesbrouck & Co. led the Panthers to the Stanley Cup Finals in the spring of '96.

Come on back in a bit for some more news.