Over a million fans watched hockey at the Saddledome in 2022-23

Photo credit:Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports
Ryan Pike
1 year ago
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For the first time in the building’s history, the Saddledome hosted three high-level hockey teams in 2022-23. The building was busy, with home dates from the NHL’s Calgary Flames, the AHL’s Calgary Wranglers and the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen sharing occupancy in the ‘Dome.
All-told, based on announced attendances, a combined 1,037,264 fans took in regular season games at the Saddledome in 2022-23 – over 736,000 of them watched the Flames. Let’s dive into the trends!

The Flames

The Saddledome hosted 41 Flames games in the regular season. Average attendance was 17,956.
There were five sell-outs of the ‘Dome (19,289): the home-opener against Colorado, the two Battles of Alberta against Edmonton, New Year’s Eve against Vancouver, and the annual visit from Toronto. Two more games broke the 19,000 mark: visits from the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers in February.
Being a team in the top hockey league in the world, the Flames’ attendance is pretty rock-solid – despite being fairly light on sell-outs for an NHL market. Variations in their attendance appear to be based on opponent more than anything else – more Edmonton, please.
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The Wranglers

The Saddledome hosted 36 Wranglers games in the regular season (plus four more in the playoffs). Average regular season attendance was 3,924. (Average playoff attendance was 6,255.)
The Wranglers didn’t have any sell-outs and, as the newest team, they had some growing pains in terms of growing their fanbase. They did really well with weekend games, though, often selling out the lower bowl. Their average attendance for weekend games was 5,191, and it’ll be interesting to see (a) how marketing evolves for their second season and (b) how the fanbase responds to such a successful first season.
In contrast with the Flames, Year 1 attendance for the Wranglers appeared to be driven by scheduling, as day of the week appeared to drive the most variation.

The Hitmen

The Saddledome hosted 29 Hitmen games in the regular season (plus two more in the playoffs). Average regular season attendance was 5,509. (Average playoff attendance was 3,217.)
The Hitmen hosted three games that drew more than 10,000 fans: the annual Teddy Bear Toss, the annual Telus Be Brave anti-bullying game (with busloads of local students), and Connor Bedard’s second visit to Calgary of the season. If you take out those three outliers, their average attendance was 4,399.
Hitmen attendance appears to be driven by attractions rather than opponents or day of the week. Whether the Hitmen have high-end NHL prospects on their roster, of if they’re playing against teams that do, seems to dictate how full the building is. If Bedard or another prospective first-rounder comes to town, curious fans flock to the building. If not? Well, attendance gets a little softer.
As with the Wranglers, it’ll be interesting to see what scheduling changes are made for the Hitmen in 2023-24. They moved five games to the Seven Chiefs Sportsplex on the Tsuut’ina Nation in 2022-23 and attendance was pretty solid, given the circumstances, but we’re curious to see how the three teams are situated in the ‘Dome (and how the Wranglers and Hitmen balance the weekend dates with each other) going forward.

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