Inside the Nashville Predators attendance surge

NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 09: Fans gather outside the Bridgestone Arena before the game between the Anaheim Ducks and Nashville Predators on October 9, 2010 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

Nashville Predators fans and bloggers have been trumpeting the team's announced attendance figures so far this season (up almost 3,000 per game), but does that truly mean that an upsurge in the demand for hockey is occurring here?

I have been slow to start waving the pom-poms, because in the back of my mind I've been concerned that a healthy portion of the new faces at Bridgestone Arena were likely lured in with discounted or free tickets, and not really contributing much to the team's bottom line. New CEO Jeff Cogen has been quite vocal about pulling out all the stops to get first-timers into the building in order to get them hooked on hockey, so it's only natural to surmise that this strategy is getting lots of newbies in the door on the cheap.

Follow after the jump as we look at some of the more detailed figures, and see just how "real" this surge truly is...

Be sure to take the OtF discount and save $6.75-$24.75 each on your Nashville Predators tickets. Remember, Preds tickets can make a great holiday gift, so you can look through the schedule, and buy in advance for any home game!

When Josh Cooper of The Tennessean reported yesterday that the average paid attendance figure was 15,657, Preds fans were thrilled, because one of the realities of the hockey market here is that football dominates the scene from October to December. During these early months the Preds have often seen some meager crowds, only to draw much better after New Year's Day, thanks to the absence of football, and of course the drive to the Stanley Cup playoffs. Josh's report let us know at least that "comps" weren't actually a big factor here. But what about discounts?

The table below shows attendance data (as obtained from the Metro Sports Authority) from the first 9 home games this year as compared to the first 9 homes games from the last two:

  Season   Avg. Total   Avg. Paid   Avg. Comps   Sales/Seat 
 2008-09 13,833 12,918 915 $44.11
 2009-10 13,645 13,131 514 $36.14
 2010-11 16,427 15,657 770 $36.85

The big news here is that year-over-year, not only is paid attendance per game up more than 19%, but the Predators are actually getting 1.9% more per seat in ticket sales (after tax and user fees). Overall ticket sales revenue for these first 9 games, then, are up more than 21% compared to last year.

Wow. Gimme those pom-poms!

As I wrote earlier this year, part of the reason the Preds were able to maintain solid attendance figures last season was due to a combination of discounting and/or shift in ticket sales (more upper bowl, less lower bowl). Given the economic turmoil that the nation is only starting to recover from, this isn't surprising news, but it explains why the Sales/Seat figure dropped so much from 2008-9 to 2009-10.

As to the road ahead? It appears that the Predators' multi-faceted marketing approach, which has greatly increased the team's visibility across just about every mass-communication medium you can think of, is paying off. The goal, of course, is to get to consistent sellouts, but with four already through 9 home games, the Preds have made remarkable progress already this season.

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