Sellout Streaks Come To An End As NHL Attendance Is Down From Pre-Pandemic Levels

Screen cap: @Capitals

It’s probably not much of a surprise to most hockey fans. In fact, it was probably to be expected. NHL attendance is down from the previous non-pandemic season of 2019-20. By some estimates, it’s down as much as 10% across the league, and much more in many locations.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal recently published attendance figures for each of the league’s 32 teams for the first two weeks of the season. According to the Review-Jornal, the average announced crowd in the NHL was 17,408 during the 2019-20 season (pre-pandemic). It’s 15,728 this season as of last Wednesday morning, a drop of 9.65 percent.

According to the Review-Journal, only three teams have seen their attendance rise over pre-pandemic levels: The two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning, the Vancouver Canucks (who played one home game before Wednesday) and the Boston Bruins. The Washington Capitals’ reported figures are the same. Every other team’s is down, except the Islanders, who don’t have their home opener until Nov. 20.

The decline in attendance means the end to some fairly impressive sellout streaks around the league. The Pittsburgh Penguins lost their 633-game sellout streak Oct. 16. The Chicago Blackhawks lost their 535-game sellout streak last Sunday. The Nashville Predators lost their 192-game sellout streak last Tuesday.

North America is by no means out of the woods with regards to the pandemic, and the affects of its two-year presence remain. The virus is still very much prevalent, unemployment remains high in many areas, and attending games at arenas is anything but normal in most cases. It may take another full season to begin discussing terms such as “normal” with regards to attendance at NHL arenas across North America.

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His passion for the Caps has grown over the decades, which has included time as a season ticket holder, social media and community organizer, and most recently led to the founding of NoVa Caps in 2014. Jon earned a Bachelor's of Science in Civil Engineering at Old Dominion University, and is a Systems Engineer during intermissions, which has been instrumental in supporting his Capitals habit.
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8 Responses to Sellout Streaks Come To An End As NHL Attendance Is Down From Pre-Pandemic Levels

  1. Melissa says:

    Caps fans, tried and true.

  2. Diane Doyle says:

    The last game the Caps didn’t sell out was a game against the Hurricanes on March 3, 2009. I was surprised that game didn’t sell out as the Canes were decent that year.

    But know realistically, a game may not sell out in the future. I figure such a game would probably involve a relatively weak rival that’s not in their conference, a team such as the Anaheim Ducks, and be a game that’s not on the weekend. (They sold out the Yotes game on Friday but that’s the key – it was a Friday.)

  3. Joe says:

    Caps business people are arrogant and take fans for granted. A few non sellouts would be very positive.

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed. Just as an example, the team web site is a joke compared to just about every other team, and that didn’t start this season. Though this season has been especially bad.

  4. steven says:

    The pandemic may have something to do with the lack of sellouts however I also think that the cost of taking your family to a game has risen to where normal people cant afford it; just like football or baseball. And its not just the tickets, its the cost of parking, food and drinks. I used to have Caps season tickets in the lower bowl but they just got to be too costly. I can sit at home and watch the game on tv and have a whole pizza and several beers for what a slice and one beer cost at the arena. And no paying for parking or long lines for the subway to get home!

  5. steven says:

    It is more than just the pandemic. The cost of tickets has risen and a lot of people can no longer afford them. I gave up my season tickets years ago for that reason and others. THe other being I can stay at home and watch the game on tv and have a whole pizza and several beers for what one of each cost me at the arena. When family dollars are stretched something has to give. So big coorperations and businesses can ahve th etickets and Ill not pay for parking or have to stand in long lines to get get home on a crowded subway after the game. saves me money and time in the long run. I dont have to ffe the greedy owers and players anymore!

  6. Dave says:

    Being a Caps season ticket holder, while the number of seats sold is the same the attendance in the arena appears lower than pre-covid. It is noticeably easier to move around in the arena, the 50/50 raffle take is down, and food lines are shorter.

  7. kurt says:

    Why would I go? Everything is like being in a hospital now. F**k it. I’ll stay home.

    Speaking of which … it’s amazing how much money you save when you stop going to the game, cinema or restaurants. Like… I never really realized how much cash I blew on that stuff!

    If the most overhyped virus ever (SARS-Cov-2/COVID-2019) has taught me anything, it’s that a lot of people, including myself, have been wasting money on frivolous stuff.

    Like imagine paying 30 dollars to eat some pasta, with the ambience of a hospital. XD

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