Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Just past the mid way point, some trouble spots at the turnstiles

With the NHL just nicely past the half way mark of the 2016-17 season, the attendance numbers are highlighting a few areas of the NHL empire where the customers aren't exactly flocking to the rink.

The Carolina Hurricanes currently hold the status of team looking for a few good fans, with sixteen games so far this attracting less than 13,000 fans to the PNC Arena

Part of that could be related to the recently completed college football season which is a religious experience for those in the Carolina's, with the NFL's Panthers also making a fair bit of noise this year heading into their NFC division final this weekend.

Getting attention for hockey is probably a challenge at the best of times, but with row after row of empty seats on TV on a regular basis, one has to wonder if there is a long term future for the Canes.

Not surprisingly the Arizona Coyotes continue to be a featured attraction on box score counts each week, with fifteen games now in the books with attendance under our 13,000 mark, the trek out to the Gila River Arena in Glendale still it seems isn't not quite cutting it with residents of the Greater Phoenix area.

Despite a hot streak through early January, the Florida Panthers also have had some troubles attracting fans to the BB and T Arena in Sunrise, though the success in the standings did seem to have some impact on South Floridians night time planning, with all of the attendance listings below 13,000 over eleven games found in the months of October, November and December.

Honourable mention for troublesome trends could be awarded to the New York Islanders,  who appeared to have a fair bit of trouble capitalizing on all the buzz of the move to Brooklyn's Barclays Center.

Up until early December, the Islanders had recorded ten games were the crowd count was less than 13,000.  Though there does appear to be a bit of a reversal in that apathy of late in Brooklyn, with the team starting to record larger and larger crowds into January.

Overall to this point there were 64 games that featured crowds with less than 13,000 fans in attendance.

The low point on the season found in Carolina, where only 9,021 attended the December 6th match up with the Arizona Coyotes.

What the NHL might make of the trouble spots isn't known,  with the league rarely discussing issues related to its low attendance markets.

But considering the current nature of the North American economy, there may not be much in the way of a solution in the short term.  With the Canadian dollar currently sinking on the money markets, the prospect of a relocation to a Canadian city would have to require some serious money counting, not to mention a wee bit of crossing of fingers and offerings to the hockey Gods.

There also don't appear to be many US markets currently jumping up and down to signal their interest in acquiring an NHL franchise, though efforts continue to make Las Vegas part of the NHL family in the future.

For cities such as Quebec with its NHL ready rink and hopeful fans for a second team in Toronto or one for Hamilton, the larger issues of the economic situation might be more of a challenge than enticing a team north.

There would appear to be candidates considering the low turnstile returns, however timing as it always is makes for the key ingredient for any potential franchise shifts and right now, holding in place might be the only option that current owners have.

You can review the attendance figures through the season from our Attendance Watch Archive page here.

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