Back in 2012, we took a quick look at the odd attendance figures emerging out of Dallas. Remarkably, the club set franchise records for largest single-game crowd and smallest single-game crowd during the 2011-12 season. Since then, attendance figures have been pretty ugly. The team averaged 79.1% capacity, the worst mark in the NHL, during its home games in 2013-14.
The tide is starting to turn. After making the playoffs in 2013-14 and the organization bringing in solid talent in Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky, the Stars are seeing a big return on their investment. Season ticket sales for the Stars have reportedly doubled and the team is selling more new season ticket plans than any other NHL team aside from Colorado.
Stars’ President Jim Lites discussed the team’s overall financial situation:
“We have improved the financial condition of the Dallas Stars dramatically in the two and a half years we’ve been in control of the franchise. Our season ticket base has doubled. We are selling more fresh full season tickets than any other franchise in the National Hockey League other than Colorado. We’re outselling the Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings, so we’re really thrilled about where we’re going.”
The comparison to the Kings’ fresh season ticket sales may be a bit of a stretch due to the fact you’d expect the Kings to have a larger established base following their first Cup in 2012, but it’s still an impressive and an important message. The Stars have a fairly sizable payroll (they currently rank 14th in payroll according to Capgeek, but that will likely change as some teams will have to cut some of their spending) and would struggle to maintain it should attendance continue to remain in the NHL’s basement.
As you might expect, the team’s moves to bring in prized talent comes at a cost. The Stars will likely be increasing ticket prices.
“…we anticipate that our prices will remain fair but they will tend reflect the quality of the product on the ice. … I can’t tell you there won’t be price increases. I think there will. That will be inevitable but I don’t think it will ever be dramatic and I don’t think that fans will think they aren’t getting their money’s worth.”
Keep an eye on the attendance numbers in Dallas this season. Management has made a financial commitment to the team it places on the ice, but how long it will last will depend on how many fans show up on a regular basis.