Lets look into this a bit. The Jets had pitiful attendance figures that declined right up until they moved to Phoenix. In their last season, the Jets averaged just over 11,000 fans per game.
Generally, Corporate ticket sales make up around 60-70% of total ticket sales, on average. The remaining tickets are ones bought by you and me, Individuals. The Jets were the third smallest market team in the league when they left. The Winnipeg corporate community was virtually inexistant near the end. Escalating player costs and operating costs also hurt the Jets. The team was barely pushing a team payroll of $20 million CAD and still losing tons of money. Most would assume that the new CBA and salary cap-era would help this out. However, while the top of the salary cap represents a price ceiling, a term commonly used in Economics, the bottom of the cap represents a price floor or in other words, the absolute minimum a team must spend. The cap floor this season? $40 million US.
The Coyotes have had much higher attendance figures since moving to Glendale. Their paid attendance figures were just under 15,000 per game, on average. These would be much higher had the state-of-the-art arena been built in the city of Phoenix. I often hear about people saying that the announced attendance is always much higher than it looks. However, the Jobing.com Arena features multiple special concourses in which a lot of people are walking around during the game and intermissions (not all the time but some of it).
Many look at the ticket prices and say that the Coyotes are practically giving seats away to people. To be honest, the ticket prices of the Jets era are around half of what they are now and the Jets couldn’t fill 15,500 seat Winnipeg Arena. Others look to exterior factors such as the Canadian dollar as a setback for the Jets. Well, Arizona is one of the hardest hit states by the ailing U.S. economy with thousands of families losing their homes in the last year and a half.
And someone please tell me how the Jets will make much in terms of broadcasting revenues in such a small market with no pro sports teams outside of the Blue Bombers, if you want to call them “pro”. Most of the southern markets have MUCH higher amounts of sports fans and casual fans than Winnipeg. For example, a fan of the Dallas Cowboys will see their season finish in January or February and may turn their attention to the Dallas Stars or Mavericks. Winnipeg does not have such a situation. Even if a lot of Americans don’t like hockey much, it still is a sport and it still is something to cheer about. Most do if its a hometown team and we all know that populations and metropolitan populations are generally higher in the US.
Going back to the topic of casual fans. This is really Bettman's goal - to attract the casual American sports fan. He knows that there are tons of them and the league will be better off if they are able to attract those fans. Whether it has been a success is up for debate. Everyone knows that money is made the most in the 6 Canadian franchises but the potential is very high as well in American markets.
The apparent "Save the Coyotes" rally at an attendance of 250-500 fans is pitiful and that might be an understatement. But that shows you the power of the casual fan. The "diehards" in Phoenix are a small number but the amount of fans who kinda like hockey and like the entertainment aspect are much higher. Its odd that the Predators drew somewhere between 8000-10000 fans for its "Save the Predators" rally a couple of years ago and they still draw criticism from the (Canadian) media despite increased attendance amongst other things. But thats another topic to be later discussed.
Lastly, Winnipeggers are CHEAP. If you have ever been there, you will know this to be true!
I'm sure that last comment will draw some loathing hatred.