Is there a correlation between home attendance and home performance?

Posted by Richard Pollock in Columns,Features,Winnipeg Jets on September 1, 2011 — 6 Comments

Earlier this week we took a look at the Jets/Thrashers’ home and road goal differential to see how much room to improve the franchise had in both facets of the game.  Well, as we found out, the Jets/Thrashers were the fifth worst team in the NHL in both home and road differential.

We have documented a number of facets of the game which the Jets have to improve this season; whether it be preventing shots, the penalty kill or fitting into a new coaching system there is much room to grow for this team.

One area we know the team will undoubtedly see an increase in this season is in overall attendance of the team’s home arena.  Much has been made about Winnipeg’s popular white out.  From personal experience I can say that being apart of a home Winnipeg Jets playoff game is the loudest stadium/arena I have ever been in.  Period.  It really has never come close (The Saddledome during the 2004 Finals was loud but not in the same conversation).

While few debate the passion and crowd noise of Winnipeg fans, the practical question moving forward is whether this passion and crowd noise can help contribute to the Jets’ success?

More on this after the jump.

How many times this summer have you heard, “This team will unquestionably be better because they played in Atlanta where crowds were sparse.” Or, “Man, these players will now be held accountable because everyone knows who they are and the fans of the city will push them to succeed.”

Let’s look at the numbers to see whether there is a correlation over the past three NHL seasons between teams that fill the building and success at home (calculated in terms of goal differential instead of record).

2008/09:

Teams Percentage Capacity Home Goal Differential
Chicago 111.2 38
Ottawa 105 12
Minnesota 102.8 27
Toronto 102.7 -21
Pittsburgh 102.6 29
NY Rangers 102.3 15
Vancouver 101.1 32
Philadelphia 100.2 26
Calgary 100 38
Edmonton 100 -3
Montreal 100 23
San Jose 100 48
Buffalo 99.2 12
Detroit 99 41
Anaheim 98.9 6
Boston 97 58
Washington 96.9 32
Dallas 95.4 -1
New Jersey 89.6 37
Los Angeles 89.1 2
Carolina 88.5 9
St. Louis 88.4 14
Nashville 85.7 10
Columbus 85.7 2
Colorado 85.7 -21
Tampa Bay 85.6 -28
Phoenix 85 -3
NY Islanders 84.5 -15
Florida 81.2 13
Winnipeg 78.9 -18

2009/10:

Teams Percentage Capacity Home Goal Differential
Chicago 108.3 36
Toronto 102.5 -14
Vancouver 102.1 62
Minnesota 101.9 13
Pittsburgh 100.7 27
San Jose 100.4 44
Philadelphia 100.2 19
Calgary 100 0
Edmonton 100 -15
Montreal 100 5
Washington 100 50
NY Rangers 99.3 13
Buffalo 99.1 30
Boston 99 2
Ottawa 98.9 18
St. Louis 98.6 -7
Detroit 97.4 25
Los Angeles 93.6 16
Dallas 92.9 13
Anaheim 88.3 25
New Jersey 88.1 36
Nashville 87.5 3
Columbus 85 4
Carolina 81.4 -4
Florida 78.7 -7
Tampa Bay 78.4 5
NY Islanders 78.1 6
Colorado 77.5 20
Winnipeg 73.4 -5
Phoenix 68.5 23

2010/11:

Teams Percentage Capacity Home Goal Differential
Chicago 108.7 20
Toronto 102.9 -7
Philadelphia 101.1 26
Pittsburgh 100.9 22
San Jose 100.4 28
Vancouver 100.3 44
Boston 100 35
Calgary 100 20
Edmonton 100 -30
Montreal 100 16
St. Louis 100 17
Washington 100 28
Los Angeles 99.8 10
Minnesota 99.7 -11
NY Rangers 99.5 27
Buffalo 98.7 13
Detroit 98.1 2
Nashville 94.3 26
Carolina 87.6 12
Tampa Bay 87.4 27
Anaheim 85.8 17
New Jersey 83.8 -8
Colorado 82.3 -31
Florida 81.5 -1
Dallas 81.3 18
Columbus 75.3 -18
Winnipeg 72.6 -13
Phoenix 71.2 8
NY Islanders 67.9 8

The numbers above demonstrate some interesting correlations.  In the 2008/09 season, there was a 0.53 correlation between attendance (in terms of percentage capacity) and home success.  In 2009/10, there was a 0.26 correlation.  In 2010/11, there was a 0.33 correlation.  So, the correlation over the past three NHL seasons between home capacity and home success was 0.37—not overly significant but not nothing either.  There is somewhat of a positive correlation between the two variables.

Now, we should point out the “chicken or the egg” element of this article.  Some will argue that attendance is only up to or over capacity because a team is successful and thus fans are heading to the arena to follow that already good team, thereby calling into question what is the cause and what is the effect.  That may be a factor but finding that out is a far more difficult task.

All in all, it appears the Jets and the team’s season ticket holders for the next three to five years may very well help, at some level, the team’s success.  Nice to know some of what you having been hearing this summer may actually be true.

  • http://twitter.com/ICdave ICdave

    It’s the reason the crowd is always referred to as the 7th man.  I think that there is no question that the enthusiasm of the Winnipeg crowd can impact the Jets play in a positive manner.

  • http://twitter.com/WSchlagel Wayne Schlagel

    Let me suggest as a math geek that a better variable than home goal differential, is the difference between their home goal differential and their away goal differential. This does a better job of showing the lift (or lack of) that they get at home. It also somewhat removes the chicken-egg thing that better teams at home get more fans.

  • http://twitter.com/TBonnar Timothy Bonnar

    There is not a doubt in my mind that eggs came before chickens.

    The egg debuted millions and millions of years before chickens.

  • http://twitter.com/ICrichyp Richard Pollock

    Hey Wayne, you are on point.  I have some of that already computed and will post it tomorrow.  Thanks for the message.

  • Anonymous

    i agree

  • http://twitter.com/WSchlagel Wayne Schlagel

    Cool, and of course what any team really needs is points, so difference between home and away points should work as well.