Carolina Attendance Down This Season

Bruce Bennett

Attendance is down 14.6% from last season and scoring is down 25% as Canes slide past quarter point.

The Carolina Hurricanes had a record-breaking season regarding attendance last year as they averaged 17,560 per game, a 9.5% increase over the previous season's average of 16,043.  But so far this season, the numbers are much lower and they are trending down.

The following figures are from Hockey Attendance.com.

Regular Seasons

Season Primary Arena Average % Capacity # Games Total
2005-2006 RBC Center 15,596 83.5% 41 639,454
2006-2007 RBC Center 17,387 +11.5% 93.1% +9.6% 41 712,861
2007-2008 RBC Center 16,633 -4.3% 89.0% -4.0% 41 681,962
2008-2009 RBC Center 16,573 -0.4% 88.7% -0.3% 41 679,488
2009-2010 RBC Center 15,241 -8.0% 81.6% -7.1% 41 624,873
2010-2011 RBC Center 16,415 +7.7% 87.9% +6.3% 40 656,611
2011-2012 RBC Center 16,043 -2.3% 85.9% -2.0% 41 657,747
2012-2013 PNC Arena 17,560 +9.5% 94.0% +8.1% 24 421,451
2013-2014 PNC Arena 15,004 -14.6% 80.3% -13.7% 14 210,058

After the first 14 home games this season at the PNC Arena, the Hurricanes are averaging 15,004, a 14.6% drop over the previous year and the lowest average since the Championship year.

While attendance does usually pick up toward the end of the season, the trend is down right now and there has only been one sell-out all season.

Home Games

Home Game # Date Matchup Arena Attendance % Capacity
1 Fri. Oct. 4, 2013 Detroit Red Wings at Carolina Hurricanes PNC Arena 18,680 100.0%
2 Sun. Oct. 6, 2013 Philadelphia Flyers at Carolina Hurricanes PNC Arena 16,088 86.1%
3 Fri. Oct. 11, 2013 Los Angeles Kings at Carolina Hurricanes PNC Arena 16,353 87.5%
4 Sun. Oct. 13, 2013 Phoenix Coyotes at Carolina Hurricanes PNC Arena 15,384 82.4%
5 Tue. Oct. 15, 2013 Chicago Blackhawks at Carolina Hurricanes PNC Arena 16,263 87.1%
6 Mon. Oct. 28, 2013 Pittsburgh Penguins at Carolina Hurricanes PNC Arena 15,042 80.5%
7 Fri. Nov. 1, 2013 Tampa Bay Lightning at Carolina Hurricanes PNC Arena 14,828 79.4%
8 Tue. Nov. 5, 2013 Philadelphia Flyers at Carolina Hurricanes PNC Arena 15,519 83.1%
9 Thu. Nov. 7, 2013 New York Islanders at Carolina Hurricanes PNC Arena 11,541 61.8%
10 Sat. Nov. 9, 2013 Minnesota Wild at Carolina Hurricanes PNC Arena 14,704 78.7%
11 Tue. Nov. 12, 2013 Colorado Avalanche at Carolina Hurricanes PNC Arena 13,278 71.1%
12 Fri. Nov. 15, 2013 Anaheim Ducks at Carolina Hurricanes PNC Arena 14,802 79.2%
13 Mon. Nov. 18, 2013 Boston Bruins at Carolina Hurricanes PNC Arena 13,919 74.5%
14 Sun. Nov. 24, 2013 Ottawa Senators at Carolina Hurricanes PNC Arena 13,657 73.1%

What does the drop mean?  Is it more than just a bad economy or winning and losing?

The team's record, (9-10-5), certainly has not helped as they have been struggling to be a .500 club and their performance on ice has been up and down.

This next item may or may not be related to attendance, but scoring is also down from last year.

Last season, the team averaged 2.65 goals per game, which placed them at 14th in the league.  So far this season they have averaged 2.0 goals per game, good for 29th in the league.

One objective for this season was to tighten up defense and reduce shots against.  So far, the team has been somewhat successful in doing that.  Last season they allowed 32.2 shots against and 3.31 goals against per contest.

After 24 games, the Canes have allowed an average of 32 shots against and 2.61 goals against.  That is a tremendous reduction is goals against, especially considering they were depending upon their third string goalie for much of the season.

But at the other end of the rink, the Canes are averaging 29.1 shots on goal per game on offense, down from taking 32.2 last season.

One thing the team has been consistent on from one season to the next is missed shots.  Last year, the Hurricanes were second in the league with a total of 642 missed shots, for an average of 13.4 per game.  This season they missed the net 328 times so far, an average of 13.6 per game.  Why are these numbers so high?

Regardless of the reasons for the drop in attendance, it could not come at a worse time as far as team finances.  The club has stepped up regarding what they pay in salaries and are almost at the top of league in relation to the salary cap.

According to Cap Geek, the Canes are 12th in the league with a total salary cost of over $65 million.  For a team that relies on the playoffs to make money, a reduction in regular season attendance is certainly not helpful.

According to this recent article at the Triangle Business Journal, the Canes have used the money raised in the latest equity sales of the franchise, to pay down debt.  They are looking for more investors to continue to do so this coming year.

For a minimum investment of $500,000, you too could own a piece of the Hurricanes.

In a related article, Forbes magazine recently published their annual valuations of NHL hockey franchises and have the Hurricanes at 27th.

The good news is that NHL ticket prices in Carolina are still relatively less expensive than at most other venues in the league.  According to Vivid Seats, the Canes have the 27th lowest median ticket price in the league and according to this study completed in February of 2013, Carolina was ranked 25th lowest in overall fan cost experience.

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