AHL Execs Expect Minimal Attendance Drop-Off With NHL Back In Business
The return of the NHL next week will cause "cosmetic changes" to the AHL on the ice, and "perhaps in the stands," according to Lindsay Kramer of the Syracuse POST-STANDARD. The NHL lockout was a "factor in attendance and media attention spikes" for the AHL this season. AHL President Dave Andrews said, "I think having the NHL back is critically important for everyone in hockey. We're looking forward to business as usual. We had a good, competitive league for 76 years before this lockout, and we'll be fine (now)." Kramer noted the '12-13 AHL season has been "a strong year at the gate." The league's 30 teams through Monday had an average paid attendance "of 5,434 in 510 overall games." The AHL at a similar point last year was "pulling in an average of 5,170." Andrews: "I don't know you can assume it's all the lockout. We have been showing revenue through ticket growth year after year, in a difficult economy." Kramer noted some AHL teams like the Toronto Marlies, Hamilton Bulldogs and Chicago Wolves "likely got gate boosts from the shutdown of NHL teams in their market." Others, like the Syracuse Crunch, saw growth unrelated to "fans' longing for the NHL." Crunch Owner Howard Dolgon "doubted that the guest appearance of a few opposing locked-out NHLers sold many tickets" (SYRACUSE.com, 1/8).