THE Newcastle Knights are on track to smash their attendance records at McDonald Jones Stadium next year after a 2023 season that restored the faith of long-suffering supporters.
The Knights finished their NRL campaign with three consecutive sell-out crowds at home and the third-largest average turnout (21,312) in their history.
Only in the 1990 (22,018) and 2006 (21,848) seasons have more patrons passed through the turnstiles at Turton Road.
Knights CEO Philip Gardner said judging by the renewal rate of season tickets, Newcastle's crowds were likely to improve next year.
"The response from our members has been fantastic," Gardner told the Newcastle Herald.
"Our ticket sales right now, at this point in the off-season, are our best ever.
"We're a long way in front of last year.
"So if that continues, and we get the performance that we're expecting out of the team, absolutely we can break our records.
"I think the fans are showing their confidence in the team and what they can deliver next year. Every portent suggests it's going to be a very positive season."
Gardner advised fans who were weighing up buying season tickets to move promptly.
"If you want to get a seat to the best game in town, you'll want to be getting in pretty quickly," Gardner said.
Gardner's ultimate goal is to eventually have Newcastle's home games effectively sold out in advance before each season kicks off, as is the case with sporting franchises overseas.
As well as a host of high-profile NRL teams visiting Newcastle - including premiers Penrith, grand finalists Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney Roosters - the Knights also boast another major drawcard in their two-time NRLW champions.
In what shapes as a promoter's dream, there will be three NRLW-NRL double-headers at McDonald Jones Stadium next year.
Knights prop Jacob Saifiti, who announced this week a three-season contract extension, said the Novocastrian faithful were a big factor in his decision to re-sign.
"We've always had good fans," Saifiti said.
"Even when we won one game [in 2016] ... the fans have always been there.
"Obviously a few jumped on the bandwagon at the end of the year, but we've been getting 20,000 every year, so the fans have always been there.
"But it was good to see the joy on their faces."