NHL vs NBA Attendance Comparisons

By: @PensNation_Nick

It’s August and if you’re a hockey fan, you know what that means…  We’re pretty much in the dog days of summer.  Training camps won’t start for about another month. So while there isn’t a lot going on, I wanted to take a look at attendance figures between the different major sports leagues (NHL, NFL, NBA, and MLB) and see how they compare to each other.

Instead of just dumping a bunch of statistics for all the major sports leagues, and because their arena sizes are the most similar, I’ll start with the NHL vs the NBA. Granted there will be variables that affect these numbers. Economies, recent success of each team, overall fanbase-strength, climate, and star power all play a factor with these numbers. Still, I think it’s something that would be interesting at which to take a look. My goal isn’t to make one league look better or worse than the other, I just wanted to show my findings and share some thoughts.

United Center

 

Let’s first take a quick look at both Leagues in regards to capacity instead of overall seats filled numbers.

NBA 2013-14

NHL 2013-14

-8 of 30 teams play at or above 100% Capacity.    .
-19 of 30 teams play at or above 90% Capacity.
-3 teams below 75% Capacity.
-13 of 30 teams play at or above 100% Capacity.
-23 of 30 teams play at or above 90% Capacity.
-0 teams below 75%.

 

A couple quick notes:
-The NHL has almost half of its teams playing at or above 100% capacity. Impressive.
-Say what you will about Gary Bettman, but not one of the NHL’s teams play in a market below 75% building capacity.
-The NBA has a much wider capacity gap, with teams above 100% and below 75%.

 

Top Five NBA Teams Per Capacity

Dallas Mavericks – Average: 19,950 | Capacity: 103.9%
Chicago Bulls – Average: 21,716 | Capacity: 103.8%
Miami Heat – Average: 19,781 | Capacity: 100.9%
LA Clippers – Average: 19,212 | Capacity: 100.8%
Houston Rockets – Average: 18,123  | Capacity: 100.4%

Top Five NHL Teams Per Capacity

Chicago Blackhawks – Average: 22,623 | Capacity: 117.6%
Detroit Red Wings – Average: 22,149 | Capacity: 110.4%
Los Angeles Kings – Average: 19,017 | Capacity: 107.6%
Vancouver Canucks – Average: 19,770 | Capacity: 107.2%
Toronto Maple Leafs – Average: 19,446 | Capacity: 103.3%

A couple quick notes:
-Attendance in Chicago and LA are in the top five per capacity in both the NHL and NBA.
-The above capacity of the NHL is fascinating. Two Original Six teams, Two Canadian teams and a team in a “non-hockey market.”
-Miami will likely not be on this list next season.

Bottom NBA Teams Per Capacity

Detroit Pistons – Average: 15,005 | Capacity: 68%
Philadelphia 76ers – Average: 13,869 | Capacity: 68.2%
Milwaukee Bucks – Average: 13,487 | Capacity: 72.1%
Minnesota Timberwolves – Average: 14,564 | Capacity: 75.2%
Atlanta Hawks – Average: 14,339 | Capacity: 76.6%

Bottom NHL Teams Per Capacity

Dallas Stars – Average: 14,658 | Capacity: 79.1%
Phoenix Coyotes – Average: 13,775 | Capacity: 80.4%
Columbus Blue Jackets – Average: 14,698 | Capacity: 81%
Carolina Hurricanes – Average: 15,483 | Capacity: 82.9%
Florida Panthers – Average: 14,177 | Capacity: 83.2%

A couple quick notes:
-Warm climates and bad winning percentages is a bad combination for a hockey market.
-The Atlanta Thrashers would’ve likely pushed the Panthers off of this list, but are now playing to 100% capacity in Winnipeg.

Since the size of NBA and NHL arenas are similar, I’ve ranked all NBA and NHL teams according to percent capacity.

  1. Chicago Blackhawks 117.6%
  2. Detroit Red Wings 110.4%
  3. Los Angeles Kings 107.6%
  4. Vancouver Canucks 107.2%
  5. Dallas Mavericks 103.9%
  6. Chicago Bulls 103.8%
  7. Toronto Maple Leafs 103.3%
  8. Minnesota Wild 103.1%
  9. Philadelphia Flyers 101.5%
  10. Pittsburgh Penguins 101.3%
  11. Miami Heat 100.9%
  12. Los Angeles Clippers 100.8%
  13. Houston Rockets 100.4
  14. Calgary Flames 100.1%
  15. Montreal Canadiens 100% (21,273)
  16. New York Knicks 100% (19,812)
  17. Golden State Warriors 100% (19,596)
  18. OKC Thunder 100% (18,203)
  19. NY Rangers 100% (18,006)
  20. Boston Bruins 100% (17,565)
  21. Winnipeg Jets 100% (15,004)
  22. Edmonton Oilers 99.9%
  23. San Antonio Spurs 99.1%
  24. Los Angeles Lakers 98.8%
  25. San Jose Sharks 97.6%
  26. Washington Capitals 97.6%
  27. Buffalo Sabres 97.4%
  28. Boston Celtics 97.2%
  29. Nashville Predators 97%
  30. Tampa Bay Lightning 96.9%
  31. Indiana Pacers 96.3
  32. Anaheim Ducks 95.6%
  33. New Orleans Pelicans 95.4%
  34. Brooklyn Nets 95.3%
  35. Portland Trail Blazers 95%
  36. Ottawa Senators 94.5%
  37. Sacramento Kings 94.1%
  38. NY Islanders 93.4%
  39. Memphis Grizzlies 92.3%
  40. Toronto Raptors 92.2%
  41. Utah Jazz 91.3%
  42. Colorado Avalanche 90.5%
  43. Denver Nuggets 88.2%
  44. St. Louis Blues 88.9%
  45. New Jersey Devils 88.7%
  46. Orlando Magic 86.2%
  47. Phoenix Suns 86.2%
  48. Cleveland Cavaliers 84.3%
  49. Washington Wizards 84%
  50. Florida Panthers 83.2%
  51. Carolina Hurricanes 82.9%
  52. Charlotte Bobcats 81.3%
  53. Columbus Blue Jackets 81%
  54. Phoenix Coyotes 80.4%
  55. Dallas Stars 79.1%
  56. Atlanta Hawks 76.6%
  57. Minnesota Timberwolves 75.2%
  58. Milwaukee Bucks 72.1%
  59. Philadelphia 76ers 68.2%
  60. Detroit Pistons 68%

A couple quick notes:
-Overall, the bottom five teams are from the NBA.
-Eight of the top ten teams per capacity are from the NHL.
-Ottawa and Edmonton are the only two Canadian NHL teams playing at less than 100% capacity. Although Edmonton is as close to 100% as it gets.
-It’ll be interesting to see the jump the Cleveland Cavaliers will have this time next season.
-No surprise that most of the bottom NHL teams are in warmer, non-typical hockey markets.
-Columbus isn’t in a warmer climate, but their overall struggles throughout the Blue Jackets existence keeps them near the bottom of this list. It’ll be an interesting market to watch going forward with as they continue to improve and build rivalries in the Eastern Conference.
-Ohio should be in for a nice economic boost next season.

NHL VS NBA Same City/Arena Comparisons

(The team in bold plays at the higher capacity)

Philadelphia Flyers 101.5% vs Philadelphia 76ers 68.2%
Minnesota Wild 103.1% vs Minnesota Timberwolves 75.2%
Dallas Stars 79.1% vs Dallas Mavericks 103.9%
Phoenix Coyotes 80.4% vs Phoenix Suns 86.2%
Colorado Avalanche 90.5% vs Denver Nuggets 88.2%
Toronto Maple Leafs 103.3% vs Toronto Raptors 92.2%
Boston Bruins 100% vs Boston Celtics 97.2%
Washington Capitals 97.6% vs Washington Wizards 84%
New York Rangers 100% vs New York Knicks 100%
LA Kings 107.6% vs LA Lakers 98.8%
LA Kings 107.6% vs LA Clippers 100.8%
Chicago Blackhawks 117.6% vs Chicago Bulls 103.8%

A couple quick notes:
-The NHL takes the Head-to-Head arena showdown 9-2-1
-The Chicago Blackhawks are ridiculous.
-The Kings are Kings of Los Angeles thanks to their recent Stanley Cup successes.