SBD/Issue 150/The Back of the Book

Rink Roundup: AHL Regular Season Attendance Off 3%; ECHL Up 2%

The AHL, which is considered the Triple-A level of hockey, averaged 5,115 fans per game this season among its 29 franchises, down 2.9% from a year ago. The Hershey Bears led all AHL teams in attendance once again, drawing 8,987 fans per game, which was up 2.5% from a year ago. The San Antonio Rampage saw the biggest jump in attendance, up 14.3% from a year ago. Also seeing double-digit increases were the Springfield Falcons (+13.5%) and the Iowa Chops, who were rebranded in the offseason after playing last season as the Stars. Six AHL teams saw double-digit declines at the turnstiles this season, with the Rochester Americans seeing the most precipitous drop, off 40.3% from a year ago. For the ECHL, which is considered Double-A level hockey, the league saw average attendance jump 2% from a year ago. The Stockton Thunder led the league at the gate again with 6,218 fans per game, which was off 6.5% from their '07-08 figure. The Ontario Reign averaged 5,856 fans per game, good enough for second in the league in their first season in Southern California. Last season, the team played as the Texas Wildcatters and finished last in the league in average attendance with 2,052 fans per game. The Cincinnati Cyclones also saw a considerable increase at the gate, up 23% from last season. The Mississippi Sea Wolves, who have already announced they will not play next season, saw the league's sharpest drop, down 18% from a year ago. Also seeing double-digit drops were the Charlotte Checkers (-11.2%) and Trenton Devils (-16.9%). The chart below shows '08-09 regular-season attendance for the AHL and ECHL, with comparisons to last year. Click on each league for team-by-team attendance figures Visit SportsBusinessDaily.com for team-by-team attendance figures (THE DAILY).

'08-09 AHL, ECHL REGULAR-SEASON ATTENDANCE
LEAGUE
GAMES
TOTAL
AVERAGE
PREV.
% +/-
'07-08 GAMES
1,160
5,933,381
5,115
5,270
-2.9%
1,160
779
3,317,017
4,258
4,174
2.0%
828
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