On Friday, the National Women’s Hockey League announced a new player bonus structure based off game attendance. Players will receive 100% of ticket revenue after the initial 500 tickets are sold for each game. If a game draws a paid attendance of 1,000 fans, the members of the home and away teams will split the revenue of the additional 500 tickets.
The attendance bonus will be in effect for all regular season NWHL games, and went into effect on Dec. 1. The league and players association arranged the bonus after the league announced in November that it would be forced to cut player salaries in half to sustain the NWHL in its second season.
#NWHL Players to receive attendance-based bonuses!
— NWHL (@NWHL) December 23, 2016
In the league’s official release, New York Riveters defenseman and captain Ashley Johnston said, “This was a great example of collaboration between the NWHL and the NWHLPA. It demonstrates the unique opportunity we, as players, have in being able to lay down the foundations of a professional female hockey league. This platform will aid players in financially sustaining their dreams of being a professional athlete and continue to be a role model for every kid who is looking up to them, dreaming to wear a NWHL jersey one day. I’m excited to continue working with the league in making the NWHL the best place for players to play and for fans to enjoy the incredible sport of hockey.”
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In theory, the bonus is an easy way to get some additional cash into paychecks for the league’s talent. But some of the rinks used by the four teams in the league don’t have a capacity much higher than 500. The Riveters play in the New Jersey Devils’ practice facility, with an official capacity of 600. The Warrior Ice Arena, home of the Boston Pride, isn’t much better at 660.
According to the NWHL, on Dec. 3, the Pride drew 750 fans when they faced the Connecticut Whale, which is above the official capacity of the venue. According to the release, “the players from both teams shared all of the revenue from the 250 tickets sold over the 500-seat mark.”
On the more positive side, the Whale’s new home at Northford Ice Pavilion can seat 1,200 spectators and the HarborCenter in Buffalo, home of the Beauts, is the league’s largest at 1,800.
As always, the players in the league receive 15% of the profits from sales of their jerseys and t-shirts.