Tuesday, February 16, 2016

ECHL Attendance Improving But Still Trending Down - Team by Team Results


With the Allen Americans idle until Friday and the ECHL just passing the two thirds mark of the season, thought it would be a good day to take a look at attendance around the league. I did this earlier in the season and found the league has been on a downward trend over the last few years. When I took the snapshot back in December, several factors were contributing to the lower average attendance including:
- it was early in the season and conventional wisdom was attendance picks up after January 1st
- the higher drawing teams had fewer home games than the lower drawing teams
- the three new teams (Manchester, Norfolk, Adirondack) draw less than the teams they replaced 

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 team.

The figures for this season are obviously based on a partial season as 679 of 1008 (67.4%) games have been played thus far.

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

4250 - 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


The trend over the last three years is certainly down and as it currently stands, the average ECHL attendance is down 348 from last season and 456 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). For the three new teams the figures were derived by subtracting this year's attendance from the attendance where the franchise was located last season. (Norfolk compared to Bakersfield, Adirondack to Stockton, and Manchester to Ontario).

+598  Toledo (7038)
+545  Allen (4641)
+361  Elmira (2818)
+264   Fort Wayne (7541)
+225  Brampton (2797)
+171  Quad City (4084)
+170   Indy (3890)
+132  Wheeling (2631)
+94    Idaho (4124)
+56    Utah (4975)
+42    Tulsa (5521)
+34    Cincinnati (4376)
-36    Atlanta (4891)
-106   Rapid City (3750)
-202   Orlando (6007)
-236   Florida (4969)
-251   Missouri (5066)
-265  South Carolina (3714)
-379   Greenville (3240)
-388   Colorado (4901)
-484   Kalamazoo (2219)
-500   Wichita (4507)
-631   Reading (3561)
-734   Alaska (3633)
-835  Evansville (4184)
-1202 Norfolk (3597)
-2186 Adirondack (2435)
-3380 Manchester (4422)

CONCLUSIONS

- Attendance has certainly improved as the season has progressed and the higher drawing teams have had more home games. Since the last snapshot just before Christmas, average attendance league wide has improved by 250 per game but still trails last season's average by 348 per game.

- The three new teams have been a drag on average attendance when they are compared to the teams they replaced.

- There were only seven teams with increased attendance over last season back in December. Now there are 12 teams with increased attendance.

- 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 home record of 21-2 but their average attendance has decreased by 251 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 236 per game.

- Brampton has been a perennial last place team and is currently asking for financial help from the city to continue operating, but has the the fifth best average attendance increase in the ECHL with a +225 per game. However, Brampton is averaging just 2797 per game.

- Reading is one of the few teams that has seen a decrease in attendance since the last snapshot in December (-81). The biggest increase since December is South Carolina (+806). In December the Stingrays were averaging 2908 per game which was 1071 per game fewer than last season. Now South Carolina is averaging 3714 per game which is only 265 fewer per game than last season. That is a lot of progress in a short period of time.

- It is not surprising Evansville has the biggest decrease in attendance (other than the new teams) from last season (-835) as they have been a perennial last place team that does not make the playoffs and are leaving Evansville for Owensboro, Kentucky after the season. The surprise is Evansville still has plenty of support from their loyal fans and are ranked #14 in average attendance this season at 4184 per game.

- Allen is averaging 545 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 per game.

- It is unlikely average attendance will increase enough by the end of the season to exceed the average from last season. The top five teams in attendance do have a few more home games remaining than the bottom five teams (63-58) and the teams do tend to draw more fans this time of year but it looks like the ECHL average attendance will be the lowest in the last four years.


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:  4641
2014-15:  4096
2013-14:  4216
2012-13:  4157
2011-12:  4336
2010-11:  3986
2009-10:  3810 

4 comments:

  1. I see that Peter got traded to Adirondack, I guess Riley is coming back for next game?

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  2. While number is OK for Norfolk (close enough), I feel your method is incorrect for the other two "new" teams.

    Manchester and Adirondack both had teams last season, you should use those numbers regardless of league they played in... it doesn't matter other than the fact both markets are not happy to be in a "lower" level.

    Manchester only down 1199 from year to year, not 3380. Adirondack only down 1207 from year to year, not 2186. As a matter of fact, if you add attendance this season to the number it went down, you are saying Adirondack went from almost a sold out building (4774) to 2435. Not correct and not fair. Yes they are struggling, but not a drag.

    Manchester actually above league average. How is that dragging the league down? I know what you were trying to accomplish but the methodology is wrong.

    What would it look like if you deleted the three "displaced" teams entirely from both years numbers? How would it look then.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hockey Fan, Thanks for the feedback. You make some excellent points. I will look at the numbers again using your suggestion of eliminating the three "displaced teams" in both years. That may in fact show ECHL attendance has increased this season. Thanks again for taking the time to share your thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I appreciate you taking the time to compile interesting information! I do enjoy the blog. Go hockey! :-)

    ReplyDelete