Variations in NHL Attendance: The Impact of Violence, Scoring, and Regional Rivalries



In recent years the National Hockey League (NHL) has put policies in place to boost attendance. Specifically, these changes have been to curb violence, increase scoring, and move to an unbalanced schedule featuring more games against regional rivals. This research looks at variations in game-to-game attendance in the NHL, focusing on these policy changes. It is found that violence, specifically fighting, tends to attract fans in large numbers across the United States and Canada. Surprisingly, increases in scoring, ceteris paribus, tend to depress attendance. The change in scheduling by the NHL, however, has been a success, with divisional rivals increasing attendance in U.S. cities and additional contests against other Canadian teams increasing attendance in Canada.