We all know not everything you read on the internet is true, so when trolls from above the 38th parallel north decide to pick on a team for attendance issues, the Coyotes often are the target (While ignoring the Islanders, Devils, Avalanche, and Blue Jackets). Admittedly the attendance over the past three seasons has been horrid with an average attendance number in that span of 74% capacity. But its not all doom and gloom in Coyotes-land; contrary to popular belief, the Coyotes indeed sold out every home playoff game, and no, there were no $5 tickets being sold by the team.
So what does this all mean for future attendance trends? Before the last lockout in 03-04 the Desert Dogs drew a season average of 15,467 (90% capacity). After the lockout in 05-06 they drew 15,582 (91% capacity), overall league attendance went up in the same years from about 20,232,433 fans to 20,853,543 respectively (a ≈3.1% increase). Here as I see it are the five biggest differences between this lockout and the previous, with completely arbitrary percentage points assigned:
- Record | The 2003-04 season was underwhelming with the team finishing 5th in the Pacific division with 61 points and a record of 22-36-18-6. Their 2005-06 campaign was better finishing with 81 points but last in the Pacific again with a record of 38-39-0-5. Their 2011-12 campaign saw the teams first Pacific Division Championship, and a playoff ride all the way to the Western Conference finals. +7%
- Arena | When the Coyotes moved to their new home in December of 2003, excitement was high; the team had new owners, the fans were getting a brand new mall to eat and drink at before games, and it was nothing but new freeway all the way to their new home. Fast forward to 2013, that new ownership was a joke and the freeway and drive time from the East Valley is the biggest complaint you hear from the East-siders. -3%
- Ownership | Jerry Moyes and crew did the Coyotes no favors by trading away talent that was popular with the fan base *cough*Brière*cough*, or running "Buy booze, get a ticket" promos. Greg Jamison will be a huge plus for the franchise, a savvy businessman who has proven hockey can work in the sunbelt, and will likely have better advertising campaigns than 'Pierre'. +5%
- Media Coverage | During the mid 2000's Phoenix was definitely a 'Suns' town, with signing of Steve Nash the Suns would go on to win 3 consecutive division championships and the medias basketball buzz was as high as it was during the Barkley era. Flash forward to now The Suns are in a free fall, the Cardinals were 5 and 11, and the Diamondbacks finished the season at .500. That leaves the Coyotes as the only winner in town. They have a great story; the owner-less team on a shoestring budget makes the playoffs 3 years running. With the lack of any other exciting options, the local media starts paying attention. +8%
- Length & Perception | The big differences between lockouts is the length of the term and the perception of what was at stake, the last lockout killed an entire year and had the NHL fighting for a hard salary cap. This one saw only about 1/2 of the season wiped away, but with the evolution of more real time media coverage the fans perception turned to "Millionaires squabbling over relatively minor issues". -2%
So by my
scientific estimations we should see a 15% increase in Coyotes attendance this year. Will we? Only time will tell. See you all at Jobing.com arena on Sunday January 20th.