The winning may have decreased over the last few years for the Blackhawks, but the amount of fans filing into the United Center has not. In a COVID-19 shortened 2019-2020 season that saw the Blackhawks only play 34 home games, the team averaged 21,441 fans per game. That was more than any other NHL team.
The United Center is the largest stadium from a capacity standpoint in the National Hockey League. As has been the case for 12 seasons now, the Blackhawks have had no problem filling it. Rocky Wirtz’s franchise averaged 108.7% of their capacity. The United Center’s hockey tenant currently holds a 531-game sellout streak that dates back to 2008.
Chicago has now lead the league in attendance every year since the 2008-2009 season. Over that time, the team went to the playoffs nine straight seasons and won three Stanley Cups. However, the team hasn’t made the playoffs since 2017.
With the COVID-19 pandemic altering the regular season, the Blackhawks will have the opportunity to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Those games will all be played in two hub cities. Chicago still remains in the running to play host to the playoffs.
While many NHL fans have argued that the Blackhawks have “bandwagon” fans, the numbers don’t lie. There have now been 3 straight losing seasons in Chicago, and the Blackhawks have lead the NHL in attendance for all 3 of them.
Only time will tell if the Blackhawks can continue selling out the United Center should their losing ways continue. However, one thing that can’t be argued is that the City of Chicago still has a great hunger for hockey. If the team can find its way back into the postseason, gimmick or not, that hunger will only grow.