Storm Front: Hurricanes Attendance Up 12% Following Lockout
Turnouts for Hurricanes games at PNC Arena this season "have been large, the fans loud and enthusiastic," according to Chip Alexander of the Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER. There have been seven sellouts in the first 12 home games. The Hurricanes are "averaging 17,971 fans a game, 15th-best in the 30-team NHL." That is 96.2% of the arena's "capacity of 18,680 for hockey." The Hurricanes "had an average of 16,042 last season, with nine sellouts in 41 games." The 12% "increase in attendance per game this year is among the best in the Eastern Conference and helps fuel" the NHL's 2% overall increase. Hurricanes President & GM Jim Rutherford said, "We're pleased we've been able to attract good crowds on the weeknights where in the past we've had some trouble putting people in the building. Our group ticket sales are at an all-time high. All are positive signs." When the NHL lockout ended in early January, Rutherford said that the team "had lost about" 7% of its season-ticket base due to the labor dispute. Rutherford on Friday said that he "misspoke and that the actual loss was" about 5%. He said that the team has "more than recouped the loss from the lockout and that season ticket sales were up" about 2%. The Hurricanes "do not release season-ticket numbers but their base is believed to be about 10,000 to 11,000." The team said that another factor in the increased attendance is the "promotions used to lure back fans." They include offering 50% off merchandise in their in-arena store, The Eye, for two weeks. An official NHL jersey "usually sells for $124.99." Opening night was a sellout, and Hurricanes VP/Marketing Doug Warf said it "created a buzz." He added that was followed by "Family Night" and "College Night" promotions. Warf said that the "last five games in April are trending toward sellouts, 'and that's six weeks out''' (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 3/9).