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European ice hockey seasons close with wide-spread increased attendances

Attendance figures across Europe’s top ice hockey leagues increased during the most recent season.

The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) has reported that the leading 11 European countries’ top leagues all saw average attendance numbers rise. Switzerland’s National League, which has the highest figures, became the first ice hockey league to break the 7,000 mark in Europe.

In Switzerland, the average attendance grew by 1.8 per cent to 7,074 fans with the same 12 teams as last season. The Lausanne Hockey Club was the biggest growth contributor as it opened its new arena. Lausanne also had the third-highest average in Switzerland and moved from 27th to 13th place in Europe.

The German DEL took second place in Europe with a five-per-cent hike in gate numbers and welcoming an average fan base of 6,523 fans to each game. Eleven out of 14 teams in the league had mounting numbers, the most being from Kolner Haie, which took first place with 13,333 fans in average for first place in the country.

The Russian-based cross-border Kontinental Hockey League dropped to third place despite an increase of 1.4 per cent to 6,486 spectators on average.

Elsewhere, the Swedish Hockey League saw a 3.9 per cent rise to 6,056 fans, the Czech Extraliga experienced a six per cent increase to 5,724, and the Finnish Liiga saw a 0.1 per cent rise to 4,246.

In addition, the Austria-based cross-border league EBEL saw attendance figures jump 6.5 per cent to an average of 3,163, while figures for the Elite Ice Hockey League in the UK increased by 6.8 per cent to 3,043. The UK league also saw its numbers go up significantly in the season after Great Britain’s successful stay in the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.

The biggest increase was seen in Slovakia in the season after hosting the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. The average attendance went up by 43.1 per cent to 2,379 fans. This was mostly thanks to the re-integration of Slovan Bratislava (5,241), which returned in the domestic league after its KHL adventure in Russia.

Rounding out the top-10 is the French Ligue Magnus, which saw its numbers go up by 13.1 per cent to 1,940 fans. The Angers Ducs had the biggest growth thanks to their new arena and topped the charts with 3,425 fans on average.

The most popular European club remains SC Bern from Switzerland, which has held the top spot for more than 18 years. On average, 16,237 spectators came to the arena in the Swiss capital – the highest average attendance outside of the North American National Hockey League (NHL).

Image: Fanny Schertzer