from Sports Business Journal (paid sub.), NHL season-ticket renewal rates are already 3 percent ahead of where they were on opening day in 2003, with more than a week to go before the start of the new season, according to the league.
In the surest sign yet that hockey fans are embracing the sport following the 310-day lockout that canceled the 2004-05 campaign, the league reports that season-ticket renewal rates stood at 87.7 percent as of early last week. In 2003-04, the last NHL season, they were below 85 percent.
The league expects 23 clubs to have renewal percentages of 90 percent or higher, compared to only eight two years ago. Eighteen clubs already have a higher renewal percentage than for 2003-04 and another seven will likely match their previous numbers by opening day.
Several of the league’s weakest clubs in terms of past attendance — ones many thought would face the worst fallout from the lockout — report that sales are at least equal to previous years, and in many cases better.
The Phoenix Coyotes report a renewal rate of more than 85 percent.
The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim report similar success, with their season-ticket base growing from slightly less than 8,000 in 2003-04 to more than 9,000 as of last week. Their renewal rate is higher than 91 percent.
The Florida Panthers, among the league’s most aggressive teams during the lockout, say they expect to hit 9,000 by opening night, compared with 7,200 at the end of the 2003-04 season. That’s courtesy of a 93.5 percent renewal rate and more than 2,000 in new sales. The once moribund Chicago Blackhawks are at a 95 percent renewal rate.
The Nashville Predators, who have seen attendance drop every season since they entered the league in 1998 and were third from the bottom two years ago, report a renewal rate close to 90 percent, a step up from previous years.
The club in the cellar, the Pittsburgh Penguins, has experienced a complete turnaround in the wake of winning the first overall draft pick in a lottery and selecting phenom Sidney Crosby. By mid-August, the Penguins had sold more tickets than they did in all of 2003-04.