SBD/March 22, 2011/Franchises

Lightning Experiencing Revival At The Gate After Several Seasons Of Decline

Lightning have seen attendance jump nearly 2,000 fans per game this season
There is "real evidence the Lightning, after three seasons of declining attendance, is reversing the trend," according to Damian Cristodero of the ST. PETERSBURG TIMES. The team is averaging 17,216 fans at St. Pete Times Forum, up from 15,497 last season. More meaningful is the "turnstile count, which Hillsborough County reports was an average 13,443 in 31 games through February," up from 11,081 at the same point last season. Lightning C Vincent Lecavalier: "Of course we notice. The crowds are into it, definitely louder. It's been fun." Cristodero noted the organization is "rebuilding community ties torched by the previous owners, Oren Koules and Len Barrie." Lightning CEO & Minority Owner Tod Leiweke said, "It's encouraging how the market has reacted." Leiweke added the "priority is to rebuild our season-ticket base." The Lightning "sold only about 8,000 season tickets this season," but Leiweke said that 900 new subscribers "signed up in the past month" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 3/21).

FEELING BLUE: In Columbus, Tom Reed reported the Blue Jackets are "destined to finish the season with their lowest home attendance in franchise history." The team as of Saturday was averaging 13,285 fans with just six games remaining in Nationwide Arena, a "2,000-plus drop from a season ago." The team "lost nearly 25 percent of its season-ticket base for this season." But Blue Jackets President Mike Priest said that season-ticket renewals are "coming in at three times the pace of a year ago" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 3/19).

BUSINESS IS GOOD: Capitals and Wizards Owner Ted Leonsis on his blog noted the Caps "reached 96% renewals for our season ticket holder base" last Thursday night. Leonsis: "Our business is quite strong and we are ranked in the top half dozen teams in the entire NHL in terms of paid admissions." Meanwhile, Leonsis noted the Wizards "will reach better than 80% renewals of our season ticket holder base at the end of our renewal process," which means the team "will meet the NBA average for this most important metric." He added, "We also believe we will sell thousands of new season tickets and will enter the next season with more than double the number of STH than [when] we acquired the team" (, 3/18). In DC, Dan Steinberg notes the Capitals "e-mailed existing season-ticket holders this week with a new offer: standing-room only season tickets." The SRO season tickets cost $60 per game, meaning the "season-long price-tag would be $2,550" (, 3/22).
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