Interactive data: The rise and fall of college hockey conference tournament attendance

One of the interesting subplots to the upcoming conference tournament weekend is how the old attendance hub of the WCHA Final Five will be split among the new-look championships.

The Big Ten tournament and the NCHC Frozen Faceoff will take place 10 miles apart in the Twin Cities.

With much of its former big schools out of the league, the WCHA’s Final Five, once the most-attended college hockey tournament anywhere, is off to Grand Rapids, Mich.

We’re left to see what kind of turnstile counts will come in from the new creations and new locations, but in the meantime here’s a look at how attendance has fluctuated for college hockey’s conference tournaments since 2000. Check below the graphic for some notes on what’s included.

Keep in mind that the figures in the top graph can be skewed by the number of sessions involved — that is, how many tickets a fan needed to see an entire tournament.

In 2003, for example, the CCHA still had three sessions (Thursday, Friday and Saturday) and did reasonably well at the gate so the overall total is a bit higher.

In 2011, a format change dropped the WCHA from five sessions to four, which played a role in decreasing the overall attendance by more than 13,000.

In terms of average attendance per session, which eliminates some of the problems with trying to aggregate all of the conferences, the WCHA and Hockey East both enjoyed strong periods and some dips in the last 14 years.

ECAC Hockey’s tournament has been lagging, so it will be interesting to see whether a move back to Lake Placid, N.Y., starting this weekend will change that fortune.