The 2013-14 season was a good one for NHL attendance. Though there were still some teams which struggled to draw fans, the overall picture was a positive one as the league set a new record for total attendance. A total of 21,758,902 fans flocked to NHL arenas this past season, representing 96% average capacity around the league. This number toppled the old record of 21,475,223 set in 2008-09.
These numbers were partially boosted by the Stadium Series, an event which took several regular season games outdoors in larger venues. However, if you were to have theoretically played these outdoor games inside the home team’s arena in front of a packed house, the league still would have set a new record.
As you might expect, Chicago once again had the highest average capacity (117.6%). Dallas, a playoff team, had the lowest average capacity (79.1%). In terms of actual fans in the seats, Chicago averaged 22,623 a night while Phoenix came in last on the list with an average of 13,775 a night.
Attendance remains a troubling issue for some teams (Phoenix, Florida, Dallas), but it’s nice to see the league post big overall totals. It’s also nice to see they would have done so even without the novelty of the outdoor games. It’ll be interesting to see how attendance figures look in a year or two, especially if the NHL remains more focused on introducing new teams instead of trying to correct the ones with troubling attendance patterns.