Tag: attendance problems

R.J. Umberger, Samuel Pahlsson

Add the Atlanta Thrashers to the list of teams facing attendance issues

A few days ago, Joe discussed the attendance issues plaguing the Columbus Blue Jackets and Phoenix Coyotes.

Sadly, the trend of fledgling teams struggling to draw people in relatively young markets continues with the Atlanta Thrashers, according to Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Vivlamore points out that the Thrashers set a new franchise low for attendance during Thursday’s home game against the Blue Jackets, drawing an announced audience of 8,461 people after setting a previous low of 8,820 on October 15 against the Buffalo Sabres. He points out the team’s troubling attendance figures through five games.

Here are the home attendance figures so far this season:

Oct. 8 vs. Washington – 15, 596

Oct. 20 vs. Buffalo – 8,820

Oct. 22 vs. Tampa Bay – 9,138

Oct. 29 vs. Buffalo – 10,172

Nov. 4 vs. Columbus – 8,461

That’s an average home attendance this season of  10, 437. Take away the season opener and it is 9,148.

It’s pretty hard to spin those figures, but there are a few reasons for mild optimism.

For one thing, the Thrashers seem like they’re gradually improving, even though they are doing so in a pretty subtle way. Their 6-5-2 start is good for 14 points, which would make them the seventh seed in the East if the playoffs started.

The other “plus” is that they will host their best box office draw since that home opener against the Capitals tonight, as the team will play against the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks. Considering the star power of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane – along with the fact that it’s on an ideal Saturday night – my guess is the attendance should be dramatically better for at least one evening.

Unfortunately, one good night doesn’t heal all wounds. Perhaps the Thrashers need more stability (or wins) to generate fan interest. Maybe they miss the marquee talents of Ilya Kovalchuk. Whatever the case may be, Atlanta needs to put more butts in seats.

Tonight’s attendance watch: Dallas more interested in World Series, Columbus sets a new low

184333429-stars attendance-@5holeblog

We’re keeping a stray eye on attendance numbers around some places in the NHL, and couple of games tonight stood out more than others. In Dallas, the Stars announced a paid attendance of 11,306 at American Airlines Center for the Stars 5-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings, a new low since moving to Dallas. Of course, the Stars do have some competition with the Texas Rangers being in the World Series. Folks on the scene tonight, which included our own James O’Brien, say that the actual attendance was far lower than the announced total.

Having to compete with TV sets showing the World Series can be a tough call, but the World Series didn’t seem to affect attendance at the San Jose Sharks home game last night against the Devils where the Sharks once again had a sellout crowd. With San Jose being a stones throw away from San Francisco where Game 1 of the series was held, it was curious to see that the Sharks didn’t suffer while the Stars did, even though the Stars are going out of their way to provide screens and TV sets at the arena to keep Stars fans up to date with what’s going on with the Rangers. Attendance is something they’re worried about in Dallas as Defending Big D wondered aloud if the Stars are going to have problems this year.

Things don’t figure to get any better on Saturday for the Stars home game against the Buffalo Sabres as they’ll be going up against Game 3 of the World Series in Arlington, Texas head-to-head. If you thought tonight’s turnout in Dallas was embarrassing, it could prove to be magnificent compared to what could shake out going up against the first World Series game to ever be held at the Rangers home park.

Meanwhile in Columbus, the woes of the Blue Jackets ability to draw a crowd continue as the attendance tonight at Nationwide Arena managed to set a new team low of 9,128 as the Jackets beat the Edmonton Oilers in a shootout 3-2. The issues facing the Blue Jackets are pretty obvious for them as they’ve only been to the playoffs once in their ten seasons in the NHL. Becoming a winning team will help them out, and they’ve done well to start the season, but getting things done for an extended amount of time is the only thing that will boost the numbers. Relying on playing tons of games against the Red Wings and Blackhawks to help boost the numbers only does so much, especially when the arena is being filled with tons of fans of the opponents.

For now, the Blue Jackets pronounced lack of success in their past is their Achilles heel. Giving the fans a fun team to watch that can win will help things out. Having to deal with the other teams in the Central Division will make life hard for Columbus.

(note: Stars crowd photo courtesy of @5holeblog on Twitter)

Columbus wins 3-1, but plays in front of smallest home crowd in Blue Jackets history

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The Columbus Blue Jackets were absolutely bludgeoned in their home opener (a 5-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks), so perhaps it shouldn’t be too surprising that fans didn’t come out in droves for a Wednesday game against the similarly struggling Anaheim Ducks.

Still, the Blue Jackets must hope that their 3-1 win draws a few more fans, as the team won in front of the smallest home crowd to ever see the team play. The Associated Press passes along the total of 9,802 fans on hand, but who knows if that number was fudged a bit by typical attendance-inflating techniques?

Then again, maybe the Ducks are just box office poison in Columbus, as the previous franchise attendance low apparently was also against Anaheim. That game drew only 10,494 fans in October 2008.

Rick Nash scored two goals in this one (the game winner in the first period along with the clinching empty-netter) while Teemu Selanne scored the Ducks’ only goal, increasing his career total to 609. Steve Mason was strong in this one, stopping 31 out of 32 shots and kept the Ducks under control in third period.

The win was the good news, but beyond their attendance woes, the Blue Jackets got one other bit of bad news in this one: forward Ethan Moreau left the contest with a broken hand.

Despite all that doom and gloom, Columbus did hang tough and pull out an important win. Will that be enough to start bringing in more fans? We’ll just have to wait and see.