Exciting news! The local hockey team is actually good. Less exciting news – that may mean it’s harder to find tickets.
In a league that’s had fairly consistent attendance numbers for a long time now, the Jackets’ hot start is standing out. Per the NHLtoSeattle Twitter feed, the Jackets have the biggest attendance increase through the November games in the league this year.
NHL attendance comps vs last year. Gainers: CBJ, CAR Laggers: FLA, NYI, VAN.— NHLtoSeattle (@NHLtoSeattle) December 2, 2017
Excluding VGK, DET, & Sweden games, NHL attendance is flat to slightly up year over year. pic.twitter.com/xbLLBjw6iA
Historically, Blue Jackets attendance has picked up after the November slate, so their current average per game (15,605) is just slightly behind last year’s end-of-season figure (15,857) – but it’s 15% higher than the average number through this point last year.
Obviously, the biggest factor here is team performance. The Jackets are coming off of a record-setting season (and a disappointing playoff appearance) and are atop the Metropolitan Division. The top three gaining teams (Columbus, Carolina and New Jersey) have all been markedly better this season than last, while the bottom team (Florida) has limped to a 10-13-3 after a tumultuous 2016-17 season. One exception is the New York Islanders, off to a hot 15-8-2 start, who are having a lot of issues at their new home in Brooklyn.
If the Jackets can sustain this success (it's a safe bet, but there's work to be done), it’ll be interesting to see how high that final attendance number goes. The club hasn’t averaged more than 16,000 fans per game since the 2006-07 season, and it hasn’t been over 17,000 since the 03-04 season.
A 15% rise over last year’s full season figure comes out to 18,235. Nationwide’s capacity is 18,500 – so that won’t be where it ends up – but that 17,000 per game figure may finally happen again.