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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

NHL Reportedly Sets Another Attendance Record, Are the Numbers Real?

The NHL reportedly set another attendance record this season. They were able to surpass 21 million people at the gates, had an average of 17,265 people at every game, and played to 93.6% capacity. Last season, they played to approximately 20.8 million fans had an average of 16,955 per game, and played to 91.7% capacity.

All Canadian teams sold out all their games (big surprise!) and joining them were the Pittsburgh Penguins (for the first time, surprisingly!), the Minnesota Wild (they've sold out they're entire history according to, Philadelphia Flyers, the New York Rangers and even the Anaheim Ducks. San Jose and Buffalo were almost 100% sold out. The Blues (+40%) and Blackhawks (+32%), Devils (+10%)and Caps (+11%) posted the largest increases in the league.

Well, all in all it looks like a pretty good season for the NHL. However are these numbers real? They are no doubt inflated as the NHL reportedly uses "Tickets Distributed" as opposed to "Paid Attendance" to calculate their attendance figures. That means that even tickets included in giveways or that are won are included in the attendance figure. However, NHL attendance is probably higher than the paid attendance figure, since that metric fails to take into account, people who've purchased tickets but decided not to use them. At the recent NHLPA meeting, Larry Brooks of the NY Post reported the NHLPA expects most of the expected $6 million increase in the salary cap to come from increased ticket prices and the strong Canadian Dollar. Regardless of whether more people were at games, you would think ticket revenue would be on the way up. It would be extremely odd if the NHL's owners were willing to pay more money for player salaries, without a corresponding increase in ticket revenue. So either way, it's good news for the NHL!

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