Modest improvement may well be the theme of the 2013-14 Nashville Predators season, both on the ice and at the ticket window. The latest data from Nashville's Metro Sports Authority indicates that average paid attendance at Predators home games rose from 15,126 to 15,558 this season, while "comps" (free tickets distributed by the team) dropped by nearly half, from 1,903 to 1,031. Just as the Predators took a step up in the standings this season but fell short of the playoffs, so too did the ticket sales data represent improvement from last season, but in some ways they remain a notch below the pace of 2010-11 and 2011-12.
While the team claimed that the high level of comps last season were due to full-season commitments that had to be honored over a shortened schedule (thus bumping up the number of comps per game), this season's 1,031 figure is still the highest in a full Nashville Predators season since 2008-9, when I first started tracking this data.
Comparisons against the shortened 2012-13 season are difficult due to the compressed schedule that followed the lockout, but if you look at that dip in paid attendance from 2011-12 to 2012-13, almost half of that ground has been recovered this season, while at the same time, comps were cut significantly. In other words, more paying customers filed through the doors at Bridgestone Arena, and even though pricing levels dipped a bit year-over-year, they remain significantly higher than in the pre-lockout seasons, meaning that the overall Net Sales per game (defined here as ticket revenue less Seat User Fees and Tax paid to the city) are up about 10% when compared to the 2011-12 campaign.
All in all, that's a pretty impressive performance considering the fact that the team was coming off a disappointing finish last season and never seemed to get on track this year, posting a 19-17-5 home record. If the team can make the right moves this summer and become a contender in the Central Division, one would think that new high marks across the board could be right around the corner.
- The only two games that netted (after Seat User Fees & Tax) over $1 million in ticket sales were the two Saturday night home games against Chicago. Those are the first two regular season games to achieve that milestone since 2008-9 (three playoff contests have done it).
- The next most lucrative date was Monday, December 30th against the Philadelphia Flyers. Visiting big-market teams FTW!
- Seat User Fees and Tax on ticket sales amounted to more than $3.5 million over the course of the season.
- The greatest number of comps for a game came on Thanksgiving, when 2,409 freebies were distributed for a Predators-Oilers game. The least (452) were handed out for a March 15th Saturday night matchup against St. Louis.