Crowds back to pre-Covid days, Swiss on top of Europe
SC Bern has the most fans in attendance of all European teams for the 22nd consecutive season and the Swiss National League continues to lead all Euro leagues with 7005 fans per game, only the second time the 7000 mark has been reached in Europe.
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Switzerland continues to dominate in the annual attendance survey of men’s European hockey clubs and leagues. For the 22nd straight season, 16-time national champion SC Bern led all European clubs with an average of 14,750, despite a decrease of around 1,500 fans per game since 2020, the last regular season prior to the pandemic breakout.
With some pandemic-related restrictions still in place for the 2021-22 season, European hockey saw an almost complete bounce-back in 2022-23. The Swiss National League was close to reaching its own European league record of 7074 from 2019-20, but the average of 7005 is the second best ever for a European hockey league and also only the second time a league in Europe is over the 7000 mark.
The NL’s figures were boosted by the ZSC Lions Zurich, who averaged 11,459 in their new 12,000-capacity Swiss Life Arena.
“This past regular season showed that we definitely have the effects of the pandemic behind us,” said Denis Vaucher, the CEO of the Swiss National League and also the President of Hockey Europe, the union of European hockey leagues.
“As a Swiss, I am obviously very happy that the National League is on top both in the club and league list in 2022-23. Also, the Swedish SHL set a new record for total attendance. But even more important is the total bounce back of European club hockey after Covid-19,” said Vaucher.
The last time another club than Bern topped the attendance chart was German Kölner Haie in 2001 when 11,529 was enough to be the biggest draw in European hockey, and 22 seasons later Köln trailed Bern by only 849 fans. Their average of 13.901 places the Penny DEL club second in Europe in 2022-23.
Czech Sparta Prague set a new club record with 10,837 in the O2 Arena, which is also an all-time high for a Tipsport Extraliga club.
Two other German clubs are also above the 10,000 mark. Despite a very challenging season on the ice, Eisbären Berlin still holds a tight grip on their fan base, averaging 11,278 at the Mercedes Benz Arena while Adler Mannheim recorded 10,225 at the SAP Arena.
Four-time Champions Hockey League winner Frölunda Gothenburg of the Swedish Hockey League came just short of 10,000, averaging 9,908 at the Scandinavium. It is the 33rd time in the last 34 seasons that Frölunda is the top-drawing hockey club in Sweden.
“The numbers show the strength and fan impact of European club hockey,” said Szymon Szemberg, Managing Director of the Alliance of European Hockey Clubs. “Eight clubs have an average attendance of over ten thousand, 35 clubs average over six thousand fans and five leagues are above the five-thousand mark. This makes hockey the best-attended indoor team sport in Europe,” said Szemberg.
Photo: Jan Beneš / HC Sparta Praha