Chinese fans embrace hockey
Asia League attendance has more than doubled led by the DRagon as 13,270 Chinese fans came out to watch the Chinese team’s home opening series versus Anyang Halla in Jillin. For the final game of the series 5,683 supporters were on hand. in 2015/16 the Dragon lead the Asia League in home attendance with 36,635. As a comparison, the Kunlun Red Star of the KHL managed to attract 7832 fans to their season opener in Beijing.
Things are looking up in Incheon
The Daemyung Killer Whales drew 1,700 for their home opener and almost 3,000 in total for the first three games. In comparison, last year’s Daemyung Sangmu team managed only 5,215 ( a league low) for all 24 home games at Seonhak rink.
The Killer Whales made a point to garner publicity before the season and sustained it through the summer including with an exhibition at COEX Mall in Seoul to attract families to the game.
Islanders at the Rink
In Sakhalin, numbers are also up 34.7% compared to 2015/16 which was an 32% increase on 2014-15. With loss of the MHL junior team, PSC Sakhalin are now the only game in town which should help their numbers grow.
The season is only nine games old and the sample size small, but it is a very positive sign for hockey’s growth in Asia. Compared to the last two seasons, 2016-17 attendance has exploded with a projection of 230,268. Korea continues to trail the other nations of the Asia League. However, should the Daemyung Killer Whales keep steady attendance numbers they’ll be in the middle of the pack by seasons end.
League HOME attendance 2014/15 – 2015/16
|Nikko Icebucks||30,318||32,429||+ 6.9%|
|Nippon Paper Cranes||27,480||26,812||-2.4%|
|Tohoku Free Blades||22,757||23,155||1.75|