NEWARK, NJ - DECEMBER 31: The New Jersey Devils hold a New Year's Eve fireworks display after their win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in an NHL hockey game at Prudential Center on December 31, 2011 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
With the 18th home game tonight (and 39th overall), the Devils 2011-2012 season is just about at the halfway point. The first three months of the NHL season are over, the NHL's marquee regular season event in the Winter Classic is fresh in our memories, and the 2011 calender year is over. I thought now would be a good time to look at the Devils attendance numbers so far this season. Since moving to Prudential Center, I've gathered information on attendance and promotions to assess the Devils ticket sales numbers and trends.
The first few months on the NHL season have a lot of competition in terms of what's on and going to a game. The NFL is in full swing, the MLB postseason takes over October, and college football has 120 teams to cover. Since the NHL schedule is long - it's known that the sport's hype and marketing increases once football is over. More games are on national broadcasts and the intensity of the game increases as the playoffs near. The beginning of the season is where most teams see their lowest attendance numbers (the Devils included). But this season's first half has been different - The NBA was locked out until recently. Has that changed anything from a Devils attendance standpoint?
As I said, I also look into promotions and special events being held during Devils' games. This season's schedule was released well after the regular season started. I have some good and some not so good thoughts on that. After the jump is more on the numbers. How have the first three months compared to previous seasons at the Rock? Have promotions increased their numbers? That and more after the jump.
The beginning of the season saw a lot of hype for the New Jersey Devils. Reports of more than 1,200 new season ticket holders joined the Rock, a permanent supporters section emerged, and the thought of redemption season flowed through summer into fall. Here is the graph of monthly average attendance from every season the Devils played at Prudential Center:
The first two months of this season saw some very low numbers. In fact - October 2011's average was just above the lowest (last season) and November 2011 was the lowest of all November's. Performance wise, the Devils were streaky and hovering above 0.500 for some time. I also felt that if the Devils released their promo schedule earlier they would have benefited from it since fans would have actually known when giveaways were.
December 2011 was the best month ever in terms monthly average attendance in the first three months of the season. In fact - the Devils have sold out 4 of their last 5 games. A few things help that but it still a good sign and a nice tidbit to point out. The holiday's always bring in more sales becuase kids and students are off, and tickets are a good gift idea. Playing the Rangers helps too (in which every Devils - Rags game at the Rock has sold out). The big one was Scott Niedermayer's jersey retirement, a sure thing sell out. But I feel their performance has helped too. They are well over 0.500, in a playoff spot, and went 9-5 in December. That will certainly bring people to the arena.
The average thus far this season just surpassed 15,000. They have 5 sellouts - the others being last Wednesday's game vs. Buffalo and the afternoon game on New Year's Eve that featured fireworks. They rank 23rd in attendance in the league (4th worst in the East). They've had 9 promotions already, which means after tonight - 50% of home games have had some type of special event. These have including all the donation drives, Hockey Fights Cancer, and t-shift, calendar and towel giveaways.
Looking at the graph, historic trends indicate that attendance has a chance to increase in January. Though the last time a December attendance was this high, it did decrease. I can see this happening as the Devils only have one promotion (ski cap giveaway on the 6th), and four games on a Tuesday night.
Speaking of promotions - I hope more get added soon. Ice scraper giveaway would be a good call since I'm starting to get frost on my car every morning. And a car magnet would also be a great idea. I want the Devils to market these all over social media, their site and announce it at games and on TV. The more people know, simply the better.
I think this season the Devils attendance has the chance to take that next step. They can get up to their season best average of 15,790. They would have to average at about 16,300 for the rest of the season which is possible and something they have almost done (2008-2009 season). More promotions, more marketing, and more ticket deals (a new one came about - the 5 game rookie plan) will mean more ticket sales.
The Devils have 24 home games left - 8 against divisional opponents (2 against each team). They have 11 more weekend games. They play the Canucks, the Avalanche, and the Blackhawks as well. It's going to be interesting where their numbers end up. I think playing good hockey (you can not deny the fact the Devils have been in some exciting games this season) will get the numbers up.
So what do you think about the attendance numbers so far this season? How can they improve? What do you want to see from management to get more people in the Rock? Where do you think their numbers will end up? What are some important factors?