Vulgar Stats: Transplant Phenomenon
As I mentioned last week, and as we all know, southern hockey attendances leave much to be desired. As many of us have noticed, the “Let’s Go Buffalo,” chants in southern buildings seem particularly loud. (We’re notorious in Carolina for this). So just how much are southern attendance figures bolstered by transplanted and traveling northern hockey fans? Let’s find out.
We need to define a few terms here.
Northern teams: New Jersey, NYI, NYR, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Boston, Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, Detroit, Columbus, Chicago, Minnesota, Vancouver, Colorado, Calgary, Edmonton, and San Jose.
Southern teams: Washington, Carolina, Florida, Tampa Bay, Atlanta, Nashville, St. Louis, Dallas, Los Angeles, Anaheim, and Phoenix.
We are not going to explore the attendance of Washington, St. Louis, or Los Angeles because they sold out virtually every game last season and thus you aren’t really going to see any difference in attendance when a northern team is in town.
Let me also say that this is skewed in favor of the southern attendances. The attendances against southern opponents should crush those against northern opponents. Those are the rivalry teams, so local fan support should be higher, and they’re closer so opposition fan support should be higher as well. Furthermore, some of the southern markets (Dallas, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Washington) are decent, and some of the northern markets (Colorado, NYI, New Jersey, Ottawa) are crap. So if anything, the numbers are probably worse than what I’m about to show.
I’m honestly kind of surprised at Nashville. It’s not like they have a division opponent extremely close by like Tampa and Florida, and Los Angeles and Anaheim do with each other. Nashville is just kind of crapped out in the middle of Tennessee halfway between Atlanta and St. Louis, and their fans still show up with no bolster from Northern transplants to support the team in meaningful games. Good on them.
Let’s take a look at in-conference opponents only. This should help the maligned southern teams since those should be the games that fans want to see. They’re the rivalries (if you don’t have at least some rivalry with everyone in your conference, you’re doing it wrong), the important games, the games in which fan support is needed. The impact should especially felt by the southeastern division teams where their opponents are in closer proximity than their Central and division Pacific counterparts. It is not.
For most of the teams, it’s actually worse. Though, yet again, Nashville fans prove that they will show in greater number for the important games to help their team. I’m starting to rethink my stance on moving the Predators. So basically, the best way to get more fans to go to Panthers, and Coyotes, and Lightning games is to somehow schedule teams like Buffalo, Boston, and Montreal more often. Awesome. Can we trade say a game against Pittsburgh and Philly and go to Tampa and Florida once more Mr. Bettman? You’re the idiot that put two hockey teams in Florida, you should want us to help them succeed right? Right!?
NHL fans, the southern markets implore you. Save a hockey team, send an old person south.