The 11th Kontinental Hockey League’s season started one month and a half ago, and the teams played almost one-third of their games, playing at home from 6 to 12 matches. The attendance figures – if compared with other seasons – are promising.

Avangard is proving the pessimists wrong

And this is even considering that right before the start of the season happened the infamous incident that – it’s not difficult to imagine – has a negative impact on the League’s attendance. This kind of numbers is hard to ignore: The Arena Omsk, now closed due to emergency conditions, has a capacity of 10,300 seats, while the Balashikha Arena has a capacity of just 6,000. The 4,500 missing fans who aren’t able to support the team have a real impact on the numbers, as the Arena Omsk has traditionally been one of the League’s hottest tickets.

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The forecasts at the start of the season were negative, but the situation is proving the pessimists wrong. So far, Avangard staged nine “home” games before a combined audience of 44,536 spectators – that is, an average attendance of 4,948 fans per game. Considering that, in fact, Avangard is playing as a guest, the team is posting excellent numbers. The team is recording a capacity percentage of 82,5%, and only seven teams boast a higher figure.

It’s necessary to praise and thank all the faithful fans who didn’t leave the team alone in this difficult situation and hope that the same picture will last for the whole season. Most likely, in the playoffs, Avangard tickets will become a hot-pursued commodity, and it’s hard to imagine that the team won’t fall in the Eastern Conference’s top eight, considering the current second place in the standings. As a confirmation, it is possible to find the recent game between Avangard and CSKA, held on October 7, when all the tickets were sold more than one day before the opening faceoff.

Avtomobilist is leading the way in attendance too

Perhaps, the most important figure of the first six regular-season weeks is that the average attendance this year is the second in the League’s history. With 6,238 fans lining up at the ticket control every game, only in 2014/2015 season, the numbers were better – not too much as the then-average was 6,263 spectators, a mere 25 seats more per game. It’s not hard to imagine that if it weren’t for Avangard’s forced move, the figures would be the best ever. But who are the other top performers?

Attendance in 2018-19 season after six weeks

Club

Arena

Capacity

Games

Sum

Avg

%

1

CSKA*

CSKA Arena

12 100

7

55 324

7 903

65,3

2

Dinamo Riga

Arena Riga

10 300

9

60 066

6 674

64,8

3

HC Sochi

Bolshoy

12 000

9

46 019

5 113

42,6

4

Spartak

CSKA Arena

12 100

8

58 865

7 358

60,8

5

Neftekhimik

Neftekhim Arena

5 500

9

36 389

4 043

73,5

6

Ak Bars

Tatneft Arena

8 890

10

65 615

6 562

73,8

7

Avtomobilist

Uralets

5 545

9

48 887

5 432

98,0

8

Salavat Yulaev

Ufa Arena

8 070

9

56 258

6 251

77,5

9

Severstal

Ice Palace

6 064

9

33 066

3 674

60,6

10

Dynamo Moscow*

Megasport

12 724

12

61 331

5 111

40,2

11

Metallurg

Arena Metallurg

7 704

10

68 641

6 864

89,1

12

Barys

Barys Arena

11 626

7

44 593

6 370

54,8

13

Traktor

Traktor

7 500

8

56 353

7 044

93,9

14

Slovan

Ondrej Nepela Arena

10 450

7

48 610

6 944

66,5

15

Vityaz

Vityaz

5 500

8

30 432

3 804

69,2

16

Kunlun Red Star

Feiyang

4 800

6

18 839

3 140

65,4

17

Torpedo

Nagorny

5 500

11

56 740

5 158

93,8

18

Amur

Platinum Arena

7 100

8

50 113

6 264

88,2

19

Dinamo Minsk

Minsk Arena

15 086

8

83 589

10 449

69,3

20

Lokomotiv

Arena 2000

9 070

10

74 736

7 474

82,4

21

SKA

Ice Palace

12 300

8

87 423

10 928

88,8

22

Sibir

Sibir

7 420

7

47 381

6 769

91,2

23

Admiral

Fetisov Arena

5 915

7

23 577

3 368

56,9

24

Jokerit

Hartwall Areena

13 349

10

83 858

8 386

62,8

25

Avangard*

Balashikha Arenа

6 000

9

44 536

4 948

82,5

Foreign clubs

6 clubs

11 281

47

339 555

7 225

64,0

Russian clubs

19 clubs

8 263

168

1 001 686

5 962

72,2

Summary

25 clubs

8 923

215

1 341 241

6 238

69,9

In the first place, CSKA Moscow. The Red Army had an incredible increase in attendance, almost 2,5 times since last season. This can be easily explained considering that the team changed arena this summer. 55,324 spectators flooded the gates of the seven CSKA home games, with an average crowd of 7,903, when the last time around the average attendance couldn’t even reach 3,500 (to be exact, 3,411). It’s also interesting to note that for the first time in the KHL history CSKA leads all Moscow clubs in attendance figures.

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However, there must be no room for complacency for CSKA: the team’s capacity percentage is lower than 70% (65.3) when both the roster and the goals of the club should easily translate in regular sold-outs at the CSKA Arena.

The incredible initial 18-win streak by Avtomobilist had his effect as the average attendance of the Yekaterinburg-based team raised by almost 900 fans, reaching the 5,432-figure. Considering that the Uralets Arena can host 5,545 fans, the capacity percentage is equal to 98,0% – that is, the best in the League.

Another team with a nice improvement is Dinamo Riga. The Latvian side had a recent downturn but is still in a layoffs spot, and this success convinced fans to get back to the stadium. If considering the first six weeks of the 2017/2018 season, Riga’s average attendance increased of 1,907 fans per game. Neftekhimik and HC Sochi also had a noticeable increase in the average figures, with a 1,329 and a 1,570-fan increase, respectively. In spite of the rocky start, the team led by Andrei Nazarov increased its capacity percentage of about one third, reaching now the 73,5% mark. In the latest two weeks, Spartak also became one of the League’s most attended team, with an increase of 22,8% in the capacity percentage and 1,367 in the average attendance.

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Another Moscow-based club changed arenas and strengthened the roster this summer – HC Dynamo, but its efforts didn’t translate in a significant attendance increase. The team boasts only 340 spectators more than last year, and since the Megasport Arena has a capacity of 12,724 spectators, the capacity percentage leaves much to be desired as it only reaches a mere 40%.

Admiral lost one-third of its attending fans

What about the other teams? We already talked about Avangard, which can hardly be compared with different situations, even if they lost more than 3,000 spectators a night.

Instead, it’s the Jokerit’s situation a surprising one. Since its affiliation with the KHL, the Helsinki-based team traditionally was one of the best-attended clubs in the League. However, the Finnish side lost 1,473 spectators per game. The situation in the latest couple of weeks is slowly getting back to regular figures, as in the first four weeks, numbers weren’t encouraging for Jokerit (-4,727 fans if compared to last year’s numbers). One can only wonder what the reason behind this trend is, as the team led by Lauri Marjamaki is the third team in the Western Conference. Hopefully, Finnish fans will get back to flood the Hartwall Arena – one of the best venues in the League – and improve the team’s capacity percentage, now stuck at a disappointing 61%.

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Disappointing results and off-ice problems led Admiral to lose about one-third of their attendance (-1,469). Even Sibir Novosibirsk halted its excellent attendance score due to the catastrophic start of the team, and the arena is now on average filled up to the 91,2% of its capacity. For Novosibirsk, this is a bad number, but many teams in the League can only dream about such a percentage, as the figure is the third in the KHL. However, the team lost 6,8% of its attendance since last season or almost 500 spectators per game.

It’s surprising, but also SKA and Lokomotiv lost about 500 spectators a night, and this is even considering that these teams are traditionally among the League’s best-attended clubs.

To sum up, it’s worth to note another time that the League sees another increase in regular-season attendance. Maybe the improvement is not too big, with plus-346 spectators a game, but as the tradition dictates, the first few weeks in the regular season are not the top-visited part of the year, and the 11th season has all the tools to become the best-attended season in the League’s history.

Increase in attendance of the season 2018-19 in comparision with 2017-18

Club

Arena

Avg attendance

Avg attendance, %

Occupancy, %

1

CSKA*

CSKA Arena

4 378

124,2

2,4

2

Dinamo Riga

Arena Riga

1 907

40,0

18,5

3

HC Sochi

Bolshoy

1 570

44,3

7,6

4

Spartak

CSKA Arena

1 367

22,8

11,3

5

Neftekhimik

Neftekhim Arena

1 329

49,0

28,3

6

Ak Bars

Tatneft Arena

855

15,0

9,6

7

Avtomobilist

Uralets

836

18,2

15,1

8

Salavat Yulaev

Ufa Arena

468

8,1

5,8

9

Severstal

Ice Palace

445

13,8

7,3

10

Dynamo Moscow*

Megasport

340

7,1

0,7

11

Metallurg

Arena Metallurg

318

4,9

4,1

12

Barys

Barys Arena

287

4,7

2,5

13

Traktor

Traktor

254

3,7

3,4

14

Slovan

Ondrej Nepela Arena&

233

3,5

2,2

15

Vityaz

Vityaz

25

0,7

0,5

16

Kunlun Red Star

Feiyang

-24

-0,7

-0,5

17

Torpedo

Nagorny

-50

-1,0

-0,9

18

Amur

Platinum Arena

-258

-4,0

-3,6

19

Dinamo Minsk

Minsk Arena

-336

-3,1

-2,2

20

Lokomotiv

Arena-2000

-444

-5,6

-4,9

21

SKA

Ice Palace

-463

-4,1

-3,8

22

Sibir

Sibir

-481

-6,6

-6,8

23

Admiral

Fetisov Arena

-1 469

-30,4

-31,0

24

Jokerit

Hartwall Areena

-1 473

-14,9

-11,0

25

Avangard*

Balashikha Arena

-3 066

-38,3

4,8

Foreign clubs

6 clubs

356

5,2

2,4

Russian clubs

19 clubs

315

5,6

0,3

Summary

25 clubs

346

5,9

0,8

* - Clubs are playing at new venues in 2018-19 season

Alessandro Seren Rosso Alessandro Seren Rosso
exclusive for khl.ru

Related clubs

Avangard (Omsk) Avangard (Omsk)
Avtomobilist (Ekaterinburg) Avtomobilist (Ekaterinburg)
Admiral (Vladivostok) Admiral (Vladivostok)
Dinamo (Riga) Dinamo (Riga)
Jokerit (Helsinki) Jokerit (Helsinki)
Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk) Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk)
CSKA (Moscow) CSKA (Moscow)

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