Well, you knew whatever the attendance was last night in Sunrise, it would be a story one way or another.
If the Panthers had drawn a sellout for Game 1 of their playoff series versus the Islanders, it would be the story of a franchise that was finally starting to make inroads in the South Florida market.
Alas, the Panthers didn’t sell out, and so it was another story.
From the Miami Herald:
By the way, a Canadian TV broadcast from the arena reported the crowd was about 12,000, a ludicrously low guesstimate that had Panthers general manager Dale Tallon fuming in the press box.
Poor Canada has no team in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 1970, or else that TV station might have been covering one of its own teams instead of being in South Florida. Anyway, the attendance was 17,422, credible, though surprisingly some 2,000 shy of a sellout.
It turns out Panthers fans, like their team, weren’t quite good enough as the playoffs began. You wait four years for another playoff shot and you can’t fill the barn?
The Panthers and Isles are right back at it tonight at BB&T Center. No word on the expected size of the crowd.
For the record, Florida did show a marked improvement in attendance this season, going from an average crowd of 11,265 last year to 15,384 this year.