Analyzing 2010 Phoenix Coyotes Attendance

If you've caught any of their games on Center Ice since the turn of the new year, the sights and sounds are obvious -- there's life in them there stands. Some games are fuller than others, but it's a far, far cry from October when it looked like the attendance at a AHL practice rink.

There's no doubt that the early season attendance figure was mucked up a bit for PR purposes. We all know that attendance in pro sports is never accurate. Things get rounded, tickets are given away, and everything is spun to look better than it really is. If the Coyotes had an attendance figure of 7,000 on a weekday in October, the actual in-house number might have even been half of that.

Now? Not so much. Just from what I gauge on TV, I get the sense that the final attendance figure is far, far closer to the real thing. Let's look at the numbers since 2010 came around -- by then, the Coyotes had established themselves as a winning team, which is key to this whole thing.

Day Month Date Opponent Attendance
Saturday January 2 Detroit 17125
Saturday January 9 NY Islanders 11454
Tuesday January 12 San Jose 9248
Thursday January 14 New Jersey 9430
Saturday January 16 Minnesota 12631
Monday January 18 Buffalo 11309
Thursday January 21 Nashville 9142
Thursday January 28 Calgary 12725
Saturday January 30 NY Rangers 16687
Wednesday February 8 Edmonton 13421
Saturday February 13 Dallas 16734
Tuesday March 2 St. Louis 10385
Thursday March 4 Colorado 12426
Saturday March 6 Anaheim 14965
Wednesday March 10 Vancouver 15883
Saturday March 20 Chicago 17534


Now, some other numbers for you:

Average January attendance (9 games): 12,194

Average February attendance (2 games): 15,078

Average March attendance (so far): 14,239

Average Saturday attendance: 15,304

Average Original 6 attendance: 17,115

Obviously, February's a bit difficult to judge with the Olympic break. However, you can see that there's a general upward progression, and that no weekday games in March dipped below the 10k mark. Also, Saturday attendance has been strong in the calendar year, with the only weak numbers against New Jersey and Minnesota.

Original 6 attendance is very strong, which signifies that there are definitely hockey fans in the area willing to go to games. I tuned into the March 20 game against Chicago, and it looked like at least 1/3 Hawks fans (kinda hard to tell, though, since the colors are somewhat similar in quick crowd shots).

This all provides the foundation to build upon, but growth is necessary for the franchise to be successful. The 15k-16k area is usually reserved for struggling teams that once had success (Carolina, Tampa Bay, Anaheim). Successful on-ice teams usually take in 17k or more. If the Coyotes can repeat their performance next year, one would hope attendance would bump into that latter level.

A good playoff run can do wonders, as can the stabilization of ownership. Can this market sustain a team? There are some signs of life. And if you're wondering why the NHL and the Board of Governors are trying to give the market a fair shot, it all comes down to dollars -- potential dollars, that is. Phoenix has a population of 1.5 million people and is the 12th largest market American metro area with 4.3 million people. If the Coyotes can be successful there, that comes with a pretty huge upside.

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