A few months ago, I made a bold prediction. I said that the Blues' attendance wouldn't drop off because of the lockout. Well, their attendance is down, and it's not because of the lockout. I still say that I'm right.
My good friend David Rogers over at Puck Drunk Love (admission -- I write there, too), took a look at teams' attendance at the halfway point of the season, and compared it to average attendance at the end of the 2011-2012 season. Not shockingly, the Blues' numbers are down. They went from an average of 18,809 fans a game down to 17,741. This is a drop of seven spots, from ninth in the league down to 16th; keep in mind that the league's overall attendance is up 2%. The Blues' aren't following the league's trend.
Is this because of the lockout? Maybe a tiny bit, though I don't know anyone who has stuck to any pre-lockout boycott promises. If the lockout isn't the cause, though, what is? It's not as complicated as you might think: it's just declared attendance. The Blues' last ownership group, which was headed up by Dave Checketts, liked to announce higher attendances than were real. We all remember constant announced attendances of 19,150, while seats in the upper bowls were empty. Was this the correct attendance? Nope. Were these the number of tickets distributed? Yup. Give aways, comped tickets, things of that nature went into the number total nearly every game, so Checketts and his group could say "look! Look at the attendance in a mid-market franchise! We're successful!"
Tom Stillman's ownership group hasn't been playing that game this year. They've apparently been announcing the actual number of people through the turnstiles, not the number of tickets doled out. They're not fluffing numbers for bragging rights. That alone probably accounts for a decent drop in attendance.
Another possible attendance issue is the fact that the Blues' home record isn't good. They're just 5-5-1 at home, whereas last season they finished 30-6-5. People don't want to go watch a team lose, and they've been doing that at home more often than not recently. Also, when you look at the schedule, the Blues eleven home games have four weekend dates thus far. The rest of their games have fallen during the work-week, which leads to slightly lower numbers for those games in middle markets.
There are several reasons that the Blues' attendance is off this year, but it doesn't have a thing to do with the dedication of Blues fans, the size of the market, or the lockout. The team's play is going to dictate attendance; it does in any middle-sized market. They start winning at home, it'll go up. Is it a cause of worry for Mr. Stillman and the rest of his ownership group? It shouldn't be. For the fans? Nah -- we need to stick with being worried about how the team's playing.