The Nashville Predators saw a franchise-record streak come to an end last Thursday when the Colorado Avalanche came to town. After eight straight sellouts, a few hundred seats at Bridgestone Arena sat empty.
Not to worry though – two nights later, the place was packed again for the Flyers.
Saturday the Blackhawks are the visitors, so you can probably chalk up another full house.
Meanwhile, the players have taken notice of the surging attendance.
“Oh, it’s great,” Preds forward Patric Hornqvist said last week. “It’s always more fun. There’s lots of people in the building. Yeah, I think this town is starting to pick up hockey hockey-wise. You get recognized more and more in the streets and everybody likes to talk about hockey. Good for us, good for the fans and great for the owners. Yeah, it’s fun.”
The Preds are averaging 16,653 per game (97.3% capacity) and on pace to break their single-season attendance record.
Two seasons ago, they averaged 14,979.
In 2002-03, they finished dead last in the NHL, averaging 13,228.
Today the team announced that – “due to overwhelming demand and growing ticket lines” – a raffle would be introduced to allocate the limited supply of “Day of Game” tickets that go for $10.
Of course, all the good attendance news heaps more and more pressure on general manager David Poile to get Ryan Suter and Shea Weber locked up for the long term. The Preds finally have momentum in the Nashville sports market. But lose their two best players and who knows if the fans will keep packing the place.