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"Arby's Arbitration"
Winnipeg, MB • Canada • 31 Years Old • Male
Can anyone recall exactly why the NHL decided to shut 'er down for a season? I think it had something to do with salaries spiraling out of control, attendance in lots of markets were down and owners were losing buckets of money.

Fast forward to today.

As of Feb. 7, 2008, only 11 of the 30 teams are averaging at (or above) arena capacity this season. 10 teams are averaging less then 85% capacity, while 5 teams are averaging 80% or less.

7 teams are averaging less than 15,000 per game.

The scary thing about these numbers is that these ARE NOT paid attendance figures. You know, that thing where people trade something called currency (or money if you prefer) for a service or good, such as a ticket.

Nashville's average attendance is listed at 14,234. However, paid attendance has them below to the "no revenue-sharing zone" of 13,125 at an actual 12,638.

Why all the lies?

I have seen empty buildings all around the league (other than Canadian cities, but that is a different story for a different time), yet the attendance is listed as much higher. These numbers are obviously fake. Is it that hard to really count and report the amount of people that go through the turn-stiles accurately in today's day and age? Obviously it isn't, but it is far more embarrassing to see a team report an attendance of 5,000 people than it is to state "well, we gave away 7,000 tickets, so people are holding them, and even though they didn't show up to the game, well, they are accounted for..." and say that 12,000 were there.

Suffice it to say, attendance is bad in some markets and worse in others, yet the league still talks about record attendance numbers. What numbers are you using?

Next on the list - the salary cap. One of (if not THE reason) for the lock-out and its resolution. How can the salary cap keep escalating? We all know that the salary cap is tied to revenue in the new CBA, but teams are losing money left, right, and center. Daniel Tolensky summed it up beautifully today (see http://www.hockeybuzz.com/blog.php?post_id=13146) about how the Preds (sorry Nashville fans for picking on you but your numbers don't lie) are still losing money coming out of the lockout. Yet the cap is rising!?! Where is the revenue growth coming from? I have a VERY hard time believe that only Nashville is reporting a loss every year, yet every team must pay to the "cap floor" which is almost at what the "cap ceiling" was at when the league came back after the lock-out. Absolutely incredible.

So I say it again? What numbers are the NHL using?

Where are the attendance figures coming from? How can many teams lose millions every year yet still see the cap increase due to increased revenue? Are the inflated attendance numbers helping to raise the salary cap due to inflated revenue numbers?

I don't suggest that I know the answers, but someone must. If the cap keeps spiraling upwards at this rate then things will be even worse off then before the lock-out. That is is a guarantee.

If teams are losing money this year, and then required to spend more next year, what do you think will happen? Good luck keeping 30 "stable" franchises around if this keeps up.
Filed Under:   Revenue   Attendance   CBA   Salary Cap   Predators  
February 8, 2008 11:41 AM ET | Delete
The cap keeps growing because ticket prices keep rising.
February 8, 2008 12:17 PM ET | Delete
whether my tickets to a game are used or not, as a Rangers season ticket holder, I count as being there
February 8, 2008 1:23 PM ET | Delete
Even the Detroit Redwings are having trouble filling Joe Louis Arena. Which is amazing to me. They have a promo right now. Tickets for $9.00. All you have to do is buy them at the Box Office the day of the game. The game is in serious trouble if the Redwings can't sell out.
February 8, 2008 1:36 PM ET | Delete
Leave it to a fellow Canadian to use Nashville as the example. Get over it, hockey will continue to be played outside of Canada. The fact is, attendance is a problem across the league...and moving the team to Hamilton won't fix the league. Who cares what the number is...until the NHL gets back on ESPN and back in a big way it will continue to struggle...and I hate ESPN!
February 8, 2008 1:52 PM ET | Delete
It's just a matter of treating your fans right. The Blues have done a great job making tickets available through promotion, and as a result, a team out of the playoffs sold 17,500 tickets to mid-season, non-conference game against Tampa Bay, who was last in their division. Building capacity is 19,150, but that's a very good number considering the circumstances.As for ESPN...Over 55% of the NHL's revenue comes from ticket sales. TV revenue from ESPN will help and the exposure will be nice, but the NHL stays afloat through putting butts in the seats.
February 8, 2008 1:52 PM ET | Delete
Message Posted
February 8, 2008 2:30 PM ET | Delete
yes, 55% of the rev comes from butts in seats...but a real tv contract would drive additional butts to the seats...it's called marketing. everybody and their brother knows who Payton Manning is because he's on the tube night and day. Put Crosby, The Big O, or one of the "tough guys" on tv more (commercials and games) that will drive ticket sales.
February 8, 2008 3:16 PM ET | Delete
Hockey is a niche sport. You can have it on ESPN, but that doesn't mean that anyone will watch it considering there are 200 other channels to watch. The WNBA is on major networks and nobody watches that. The sooner that the NHL realizes that hockey will never be one of the top three sports in the U.S.A., the better off the sport will be. Lower the ticket prices and more fans will be able to afford to come. 10,000 fans at $50 a ticket is the same as 20,000 fans at $25 a ticket, not counting the additional revenue from concessions and souveniers.
February 8, 2008 6:09 PM ET | Delete
Hockey will always be far down the pecking order in the United states. When Darts and Poker have better ratings isn't it obvious that the league has to accomidate the real fans of the game. Of course the league will give botched numbers because it makes them look like they are mickey mouse if they tell the truth. I think you will see some teams reloacting in the near future back to Canada. There was a big thing on CBC about local ownership interested im bringing back a franchise to Winnipeg. These owners can't afford to loose money every year. Look at Tampa they won a cup a few years ago an have poor attendance. Not to mention they have one of the best players in the game today on the franchise. ESPN wont help tv ratings in the states people enjoy Baseball, Basketball, Football, Nascar the list goes on alot more the NHL hockey. This is because people can't relate to the game. Its not like canada where you can go to the out door rink and pla shinny hockey. When you can relate to the game you cant expect people to be like they are in T.O or montreal where they are obsessed with the game. Bettman made a huge mistake by going down south and now he is paying for it in Ratings and attendance.
February 8, 2008 10:30 PM ET | Delete
Dumbest thing I ever heard, ducky. Organized youth hockey in the states is huge and getting bigger. High School hockey teams are on the rise as well. Get used to it duckyboy, hockey will always be in the u.s. remember, the southern states are the fastest growing (population wise) and wealth. We need the U.S. markets to thrive...the NHL is bigger than just the great white north.
February 8, 2008 11:06 PM ET | Delete
You know you can say what you want but you are going to loose your franchise soon the preds are not even in the running for the league profit sharing that they need. I wasnt talking about in door rinks. Indoor rinks are expensive to get ice time and you have to book it im talking about outdoor rinks where kids can throw on their skates and play shinny. I bet you dont even know that Outdoor rinks exist lol.........There are going to be a few franchises moving in the not so distant future. It doesnt matter how many people live in the southern states? They obviously dont like hockey. Get real the preds are not going to stay in that market is a loose loose situation
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