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.

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