ALLEN,  TX – With the ECHL on Christmas break and no hockey results to follow, thought it would be a good day to take a look at attendance around the league. What you find when you look at average attendance over time is the ECHL is on pace to have the lowest average attendance in at least ten years and has been trending downward in each of the last three years.

The information below is taken from the ECHL website and includes average league wide attendance for the last ten years and a comparison of attendance from last year to this year for each ECHL team, with the exception of Manchester, Norfolk and Adirondack who are in their first year.

The figures for this season are obviously based on just the first part of the season as 379 of 1008 (37.6%) games have been played this far and many teams say attendance picks up after Christmas when football is over, weather changes, etc.

Here is the average ECHL attendance over the last ten years:

3999 – 2015-16
4598 – 2014-15
4706 – 2013-14
4695 – 2012-13
4282 – 2011-12
4339 – 2010-11
4485 – 2009-10
4258 – 2008-09
4174 – 2007-08
4170 – 2006-07

If you look at the figures above some of the variation can be explained by teams coming and going from the league. Last year for example the ECHL had Ontario (7802), Bakersfield (4799) and Stockton (4621) who this year have been replaced by Manchester (4049), Norfolk (3229), and Adirondack (2131).

The trend over the last three years is certainly down and as it currently stands, the average ECHL attendance is 707 less per game than just two years ago. When you figure ECHL teams get an estimated 70% – 80% of their revenue from ticket sales that is significant.

The next step was to look at the individual teams to compare average attendance from last season to this season to see who has lost attendance and who has gained attendance. The list below goes from the teams that have gained the most in attendance from 2014-15 to 2015-16 to those that have lost the most. The number in parentheses is the team’s average attendance for the current season (2015-16).

+540  Allen (4636)
+301  Elmira (2858)
+289  Toledo (6729)
+150  Brampton (2722)
+140  Wheeling (2639)
+52    Cincinnati (4394)
+39    Tulsa (5518)
-9       Quad City (3904)
-64     Fort Wayne (7213)
-166    Indy (3554)
-179   Atlanta (4738)
-225   Idaho (3805)
-330   Rapid City (3526)
-397   Orlando (5812)
-412   Missouri (4905)
-426   Utah (4493)
-446   Colorado (4843)
-467   Greenville (3152)
-528   Florida (4677)
-550   Reading (3642)
-757   Kalamazoo (1946)
-786   Wichita (4221)
-925   Alaska (3442)
-1021 South Carolina (2908)
-1081 Evansville (3938)

CONCLUSIONS:

– There are just seven teams with increased attendance over last season with 18 having decreases and the decreases are much larger than the gains.

– It is easier to have attendance increases if your base is low to start with. Three of the seven teams with increases (Elmira, Brampton, Wheeling) were at the bottom of the league for average attendance last season.

– Results don’t always tie to attendance increases. Missouri was one of the worst teams in the ECHL last year and this year is best team in the league with a perfect home record of 11-0 but their average attendance has decreased by a significant amount of 412 per game.

– Florida was one of the top teams in the league last year and continues to be this year but their average attendance has gone done 528 per game.

– The future of the Kalamazoo franchise has to be in question. They were one of the worst drawing teams last season averaging 2703 per game. Their average this year has gone down by 757 per game to an unsustainable average attendance of just 1946.

– The South Carolina franchise had a very successful season last year making it to the Kelly Cup final. They are currently second in the South Division standings and in playoff contention, yet their average attendance has decreased by 1021 per game. Only Evansville has decreased more than South Carolina.

– It is not surprising Evansville has the biggest decrease in attendance from last season (1081) as they have been a perennial last place team that does not make the playoffs. The surprise is they still have plenty of support from their loyal fans and are still ranked #14 in average attendance this season at 3928 per game.

– Allen leads the ECHL, averaging 540 more fans per game this season than last season. With three straight championships (two in the CHL) you would expect big attendance increases but that has not been the case in the past. The year after their first championship (2012-13), attendance increased an average of only 59 per game. The year after the second championship (2013-2014) attendance actually decreased by 120. Credit should be given to an expanded sales and marketing staff for a job well done in attaining an average attendance increase of 540 per game this season.

DID YOU KNOW: The Allen Americans are on pace to have their highest average attendance in franchise history. Here is average attendance by season.
2015-16:  4636
2014-15:  4096
2013-14:  4216
2012-13:  4157
2011-12:  4336
2010-11:  3986
2009-10:  3810

3 COMMENTS

  1. It’s kinda hard to put a finger on why the Kwings just aren’t drawing great crowds. But the owners of the team also own the arena. So while the numbers look bad it may not be as bad as some may think for the future of the team.

  2. Surprised that the attendance in Allen is as good and steady as it is. With the Dallas Stars an hour’s drive away, I know if I lived in the area, that I’d be attending NHL hockey…even if not as frequently, due to ticket prices.

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