The Ottawa Senators attendance dip — by the numbers

On Oct. 10 the Sens lost 6-3 to St. Louis in front of only 9,204 fans, the smallest home crowd in many years.

Canadian Tire Centre crowds have thinned 5 of last 6 seasons

Fans mill about the Canadian Tire Centre plaza during the Ottawa Senators home opener last season. On Thursday, official attendance just barely topped the 9,000 mark — the smallest home crowd in the past five seasons. (CBC)

Thursday, Oct. 10 could be considered a new low for the Ottawa Senators, both on the ice and in the stands.

The team lost 6-4 to the visiting St. Louis Blues, the defending Stanley Cup champions, to drop to 0-3 — their worst start ever.

The Sens did so in front of only 9,204 fans, according to official attendance figures. That's smaller than any home crowd going back to the 2000-01 season, when's game sheets stop listing the crowd size.

If you search CBC Ottawa's web archives for "Ottawa Senators attendance," you'll find stories warning of trouble going back to November 2013, the season after Daniel Alfredsson chose to sign with Detroit, when average attendance was dropping to the high 17,000s.

The issue has since become much worse, and we've done more stories since then.

Here are four graphs that illustrate the team's declining attendance.

Per-game attendance since 2004-05 lockout

Red represents a year Ottawa made the playoffs. Black represents a non-playoff year.


Rank in NHL attendance since 2004-05 lockout

Again, red represents a year Ottawa made the playoffs, while black represents a non-playoff year.

The lower the number, the higher the ranking. The NHL added a 31st team in 2017-18.


Sellouts over the last 5 seasons

The Ottawa Senators reduced the capacity of the Canadian Tire Centre from about 19,150 to 18,500 before the 2015-16 season, then dropped it even further to 17,000 before the 2017-18 season.

The team then removed those tarps after one season to get capacity back up to about 18,600.

Those thresholds are used to determine a "sellout" and don't include games played in this time period in Sweden or at TD Place.


Smallest crowd of season


2019-20 attendance