It's no secret the Arizona Coyotes have suffered from poor attendance figures for much of their time in Arizona. As tickets are a significant (but not the most significant) source of revenue, the fiscal health of the Coyotes will be helped or hurt by how many people show up to games. So now with Andrew Barroway in as majority owner and IceArizona firmly entrenched, how are the Coyotes doing.
Shorter Term Trends
Arizona's attendance issues in the bankruptcy stage of its existence are well documented. Yet another phenomenon that is not quite as well documented is the trend for Coyotes attendance to improve dramatically from the first three months of the season to the last four. Once the new year begins, the total attendance picks up, as evidenced here.
If you are a little more visually inclined, the raw numbers translate like this:
There are a few different things to note here. The first, and maybe most surprising, fact is that attendance in the 2014-15 season began stronger than in any of the past six seasons, including the first full season under private ownership and the lockout season that began in January.
This is a good thing for the Coyotes, because attendance numbers in January-April, while not exemplary, are much healthier than the early months. This is due in part to snowbirds from the North arriving for the winter as well as renewed interest in the team once football season is over.
So if Arizona is drawing more fans at the beginning of the season, when basketball, college football and professional football are all having their seasons, then it suggests something the marketing folks are doing is working.
Second, despite the team's abysmal on-ice performance, attendance has not really tapered off. The Coyotes have relatively little star power and play a kind of hockey derided as "boring." Fans don't appear to be staying away from the team despite the bad performance, though what happens in the subsequent months is going to be telling in that sense.
Finally, here is what Arizona's attendance numbers looked like since the franchise's arrival in Phoenix.
There's a lot of room for improvement, especially after the nose-dive attendance took when the team declared bankruptcy. But if truly bad Coyotes teams could draw 15k a night on average, then there is definitely some resilience in the market.
It will be interesting to see what happens when the team is formally eliminated from postseason contention. Even in the last couple of playoff-less years, the team was competitive right up until the end. Barring a sudden resurgence, it doesn't seem like that's going to happen this year. So will marquee teams like the Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks, and Pittsburgh Penguins be enough to draw fans in? We'll see.
This year is likely going to disappoint many attendance watchers in Arizona (and please many attendance watchers in Canada). Yet there are some underlying figures that are potentially good omens for the future. It will be up to Barroway and Co. to capitalize on the modest gains by icing a roster that hockey fans will want to see.