Thursday, February 12, 2009

Second Half Attendance Boost: Part I

Note: All attendance figures are through Wednesday, February 11th, 2009.

Welcome to part I of a little series I thought up recently. In most sports (except American Football) attendance figures usually rise or fall after the halfway point of the season. This is especially true in the NHL (and NBA), as the playoffs or the off-season approach teams fast.

With each NHL club having 41 home games (Euro Premier's and NHL Winter Classic were counted as basic sell-outs for the "home" team), I put the "halfway" point for all clubs at 20 home games. I understand this isn't the true halfway point, as some teams had played less or more at the All-Star Break, but for my sanity and more or less easier statistical analysis, we will leave it at that.

There has been 190 home games since each teams 20th home game, with an average of six (6) home games per club. So far, there have been a reported 3,152,459 total spectators in this span. Through the first six home games at the beginning of the season for each club, there was a reported 3,303,780 total spectators. The first six games of the second half have seen 4,8% more fans than the first six games of the first half of the year. Furthermore, the NHL first half spectators per game average came to 17,242. The second half average so far is up 1%, coming in at 17,395.

So lets take a look at the team by team attendance performance so far in the second half (all home games included for each team, not just the average six, click to enlarge/clarify):

As you can see, Columbus and L.A. top the list; quickly followed by Carolina and New Jersey. A good piece by Puck The Media in late January raised the possibility that Columbus might become a Pittsburgh-like new-NHL market. The team is experiencing higher TV Ratings than ever before, and I believe its a great market for the NHL based on how the team embraces their Major League Soccer franchise; the Columbus Crew.

The Kings, meanwhile, may be benefiting from their place in an insanely tight Western conference playoff race. The Kings are only three points out, and according to writer Thomas LaRocca, the Kings are the best-kept secret in hockey (I would say the same about the Rangers; jokes). Finally, the Kings offer great ticket deals, as I covered in their edition of the Playing Below Capacity series here.

I think Carolina is also benefiting from their spot in the not-so-tight Eastern conference playoff race, as the Canes are only 1 point out of 8th place. For more information on the Canes, take a look at the newest edition of my Playing Below Capacity series. Finally on the positive side of the second half, I have no idea what is driving people to the Prudential Center to see the Devils. Only two of their second half games have been against one of their New York rivals, with the Rangers last Monday and the Islanders last night (only 14K plus at that one). Maybe their picking it up in the marketing department?

Also, one more thing. Anyone notice Phoenix at a 2% boost? I didn't for a minute either.

On the other end of the Second Half Attendance "Boost," are the Panthers, Lightning, and Senators. The Lightning and Senators are most likely suffering from poor play on the ice, as both are well out of the Eastern conference playoff picture. I will have to keep an eye on the Senators though, as they just recently introduced a new ticket-plan in an effort to keep ScotiaBank Place full.

The Panthers are a different story, though. They are 8th in the Eastern conference and are playing really well as of late. We will have to see if this difference turn around. I'll be looking into them when their turn in Playing Below Capacity comes around.

That's all for now, maybe more later.

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