IIHF Releases Annual Attendance Rankings

I've been keeping track of four leagues myself throughout the year (and hope to add additional ones through the offseason), and will have more to come on that in the future, but the IIHF released their annual attendance rankings this year for European clubs and leagues today.  If you're curious about the popularity of hockey as entertainment around the continent, it's a good starting point.  Germany continues to dominate the top 5, with three clubs from the DEL cracking the list.  A KHL club joins them, but not a Russian team:  Dinamo Minsk of Belarus moved up 58 spots to 3rd after playing their entire season in their brand new, 15,000+ capacity seat arena that will play host to the 2014 IIHF World Championships.  Here's the top 20, while the top 100 can be seen here on the IIHF's website:

Top 20 European Hockey Clubs - 2010-11 Attendence
Rank Club League Country Average Att.
1 SC Bern NLA Ch_medium 15,856
2 Eisbaren Berlin DEL De_medium 13,946
3 Dynamo Minsk KHL By_medium 10,538
4 Kolner Haie DEL De_medium 9,696
5 Adler Mannheim DEL De_medium 9,689
6 HC Frolunda Gothenburg SEL Se_medium 9,378
7 Avangard Omsk KHL Ru_medium 9,303
8 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl KHL Ru_medium 8.998
9 HC Pardubice CEL Cz_medium 8,922
10 Jokerit Helsinki SML Fi_medium 8,490
11 SKA St. Petersburg KHL Ru_medium 8,170
12 Salavat Yulaev Ufa KHL Ru_medium 7,998
13 KHL Medvescak Zagreb EBEL Hr_medium 7,837
14 ZSC Lions (Zurich) NLA Ch_medium 7,640
15 Dinamo Riga KHL Lv_medium 7,619
16 Djurgarden Stockholm SEL Se_medium 7,401
17 Kometa Brno CEL Cz_medium 7,165
18 Traktor Chelyabinsk KHL Ru_medium 7,157
19 Amur Khabarovsk KHL Ru_medium 7,078
20 Hamburg Freezers DEL De_medium 7,037

I believe Medvescak Zagreb becomes the first EBEL (Austrian League) team to crack the top 20 on this list.  They are a real success story, making hockey popular in the capital of a country (Croatia) that is ranked way down at 26th in the world according to the IIHF.  Zagreb joined the EBEL in 2009-10, and have been the most popular team since their arrival, despite finishing in the bottom half of the league both years.  The team played four games at the 15,200 capacity Arena Zagreb this year, selling out the venue in addition to drawing over 6500 per game at their regular venue. 

The NLA drew the most fans on average to games as a league, followed by the Elitserien, though due to volume the KHL (which has 23 teams to the NLA and SEL's 12 each) drew the most fans to their arenas.  Hockey's popularity in Sweden is still very high, though, as two Allsvenskan teams (Leksands IF and Malmo Redhawks) outdrew Sodertalje, the Elitserien's poorest draw.  Germany's DEL has severe drops in attendance after their top 4 clubs, and rank fourth overall in average league attendance as a result. 

It'll be interesting to see what impact a KHL team in Poprad could have on hockey attendance in Slovakia:  their Extraliga finished eighth amongst leagues, well behind the EBEL (which admittedly was greatly boosted by Zagreb).  A brand new arena in Bratislava should help matters, as only HC Kosice (33rd) and HK Poprad (92nd) made the top 100 out of Slovakia.

Meanwhile, hockey is making inroads in other ways as well:  While only one French club made the top 100 (Grenoble at #98), the French Cup Final drew 13,364 fans at the Paris-Bercy.  The French Cup competition is the same format as national cup races in football, like England's FA Trophy, where teams from every level within the country compete for the top prize. 

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