SBD/November 27, 2013/Franchises

Blue Jackets Struggling At Gate Despite Increase In Season-Ticket Sales

Blue Jackets attendance is likely impacted by the popularity of football in Columbus
The Blue Jackets "continue to struggle with attendance overall, but especially during the fall," according to Shawn Mitchell of the COLUMBUS DISPATCH. The team averaged 14,023 fans through 11 home games this season, which ranks 26th in the NHL "despite their season-ticket base increasing by more than 1,500 since a 19-5-5 finish last season." The Blue Jackets' move to the Eastern Conference "has yet to pay off at the box office." Team President Mike Priest said, "A few of those games are ones where we didn't see the typical single-game sale numbers that we expected. We’re not at all disappointed in the process of being (in the Eastern Conference), and we believe those teams will draw." Mitchell notes opponents at Nationwide Arena this season have "included Original Six teams and new Eastern Conference rivals" in the Canadiens, Bruins, Maple Leafs and Rangers. But the Blue Jackets "drew an average of 12,832 for those four games." They drew 13,930 for a Friday night game during which Maple Leafs fans "far outnumbered Blue Jackets fans in the lower bowl." Troubles at the gate could be due to a "number of factors, none of which are new to the Blue Jackets." Football -- high school, college and pro -- is "king in the fall in Columbus and elsewhere around Ohio." Additionally, flexible ticket packages "allow fans to pick some or all of their games later in the schedule." But "foremost is more than a decade of losing hockey." Still, the Blue Jackets have "drawn 924 more fans per game than they did through the first 11 games" in the '11-12 season, and 1,649 more during the same period in the '10-11 season, "their worst season at the box office" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 11/27).

WE'RE GOING STREAKING! In Pittsburgh, Rob Rossi notes the Penguins' home sellout streak "hits 300" Wednesday night against the Maple Leafs. The all-time NHL record "belongs to" the Avalanche at 487 consecutive sellouts, and the "current best" is the Maple Leafs with 409 games. The Penguins "never sold out an entire season" during co-Owner & Chair Mario Lemieux's playing days. This season would "mark a seventh consecutive of full houses" (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 11/27).
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