The NHL released their attendance numbers through February 15th, and there is some good news for the Nashville Predators.
As reported in the February 27th issue of the Sports Business Journal, the League average for all teams is 92.1% of arena capacity. Through that date, the Predators have averaged 92.8% of capacity at the Bridgestone Arena. Further, the Predators show the second largest average attendance increase for the season, up 9.1% from last season. Only the Tampa Bay Lightning have a higher average increase in attendance at 11.2%.
The teams with the biggest drop in average attendance from last season were: the New York Islanders -20.9%; the Dallas Stars -13.5%; and the Columbus Blue Jackets -11.1%.
Here are the numbers for all 30 teams:
TEAM AVG ATTENDANCE % CAPACITY
Anaheim Ducks 14,566 84.8
Atlanta Thrashers 13,056 70.4
Boston Bruins 17,565 100
Buffalo Sabres 18,334 98.1
Calgary Flames 19,289 100
Carolina Hurricanes 15,862 84.9
Chicago Blackhawks 21,301 108
Colorado Avalanche 14,773 82.0
Columbus Blue Jackets 13,619 75.1
Dallas Stars 14,916 80.5
Detroit Red Wings 19,521 97.3
Edmonton Oilers 16,839 100
Florida Panthers 15,036 88.2
Los Angeles Kings 18,062 99.7
Minnesota Wild 17,811 98.6
Montreal Canadiens 21,273 100
Nashville Predators 15,884 92.8
New Jersey Devils 14,018 79.5
New York Islanders 9,893 60.9
New York Rangers 18,065 99.3
Ottawa Senators 18,367 95.9
Philadelphia Flyers 19,657 100.6
Phoenix Coyotes 11,512 67.2
Pittsburgh Penguins 18,220 100.7
San Jose Sharks 17,562 100
St. Louis Blues 19,150 100
Tampa Bay Lightning 16,670 84.4
Toronto Maple Leafs 19,294 102.5
Vancouver Canucks 18,860 100.3
Washington Capitals 18,398 100
The Predators average attendance at 92.8% of capacity is 17th in the League. Much of the growth can be attributed to the focused marketing efforts of the Predators front office staff, particularly the addition of President Jeff Cogen and COO Sean Henry. The leadership team has made great inroads into the Nashville business community over the past 8 months and they have marketed the Predators effectively. This is reflected in the higher attendance numbers throughout the season.
There is no surprise that the Canadian markets show well. The off-ice struggles of the Islanders, Coyotes, and Thrashers are reflected in their numbers. Perhaps the biggest surprises in attendance are with the Stars and Avalanche, which have been winning franchises in the past- and in the case of the Stars are currently a playoff team- but are struggling at the gate.
Predator fans should feel vindicated by these numbers. After hearing the droning of the Canadian media, notably those in Toronto, about how Nashville didn't "deserve" to have a hockey team, it feels good to point out the growth in attendance and the fact that the Predators fans support their team in larger numbers than some of the "favored" franchises.
All this points out is that a well run hockey club can succeed in the so called "non-traditional" markets, and the Predators are proving their critics wrong.