Sunday, March 20, 2011

Good News in Attendance Numbers for the Predators

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.

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