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At least the Florida Panthers are honest about their attendance issues? I think?

As the Hockey News's Adam Proteau pointed out, the Florida Panthers' relatively new owners are well aware of the fact that they're skating uphill in terms of increasing their team's attendance...

But when you see pictures like this from the Panthers's home-opening 1-0 loss to Ottawa, whose announced attendance was 7,311, you think, "Woah"--before remembering that this is kind of normal when the Panthers aren't playing a team that draws the snowbirds in:

Roberto Luongo shrugged it off while speaking to the Miami Herald's George Richards...

The announced crowd of 7,311 was lowest in franchise history, beating the 10,063 from a Halloween game against Carolina in 2007. Capacity at the building, which opened in 1998, is 19,250.

“I don’t pay attention to that stuff when I’m playing, I just focus on my job,’’ goalie Roberto Luongo, who made 22 saves, said afterward. “If we want to get some people in the stands, we need to start winning some games.’’

But the Sun-Sentinel's Harvey Filakov reported that Panthers fans are embarrased about their team's attendance woes, too:

I hate to say this but it feels like we're seeing the end of a franchise,'' John Butler, a season-ticket holder for three years from Tamarac, said from his upper level perch. "So many rumors are flying around and [the owners] sent out a letter restating their commitment to South Florida. It doesn't feel totally positive.

"If they do leave we'll be sad, but we're still coming because we love hockey and are happy to be here,'' added Butler's wife, Alaina.

The Panthers dropped to 0-2-1, losing two in a row to Atlantic Division foes who like them failed to make the playoffs last season. It's the Panthers worst start since 2007 when they dropped the first three games without any points.

...

Before the season began Panthers owners Vinnie Viola and Doug Cifu said they would no longer offer as many discount tickets online and wouldn't give away free tickets like previous regimes had been doing because they felt that practice had devalued the ticket.

They also correctly predicted that attendance, which was the 29th lowest at home last season at an average 14,177, would drop precipitously.

"It's a Monday and it's hard to get out for me also,'' said Joseph Palermo, 20, of Coral Springs, who paid $10 for his upper-deck ticket via Stub Hub. "Not really for an Ottawa game, it's not embarrassing.''

The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch noted that the Panthers kind-of-sort-of addressed the issue on Twitter...

And South Florida native Craig Anderson put things bluntly while speaking to the Associated Press:

Anderson, a backup with the Panthers for several seasons, knows what it will take for attendance figures to improve.

"This city seems to need wins, whether it's football, baseball, basketball. You need to win games to get fans in the building," Anderson said. "It's a matter of them putting some wins together and getting the fan base to come back."

Filed in: | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: craig+anderson, florida+panthers, ottawa+senators, roberto+luongo

Comments

Down River Dan's avatar

Well thank goodness for a arbitrarily low salary cap,and the recently signed Rogers TV deal. Otherwise, one might think this team could be in trouble… confused

That new arena in Seattle can’t come a minute too soon ehh..Gary.

Posted by Down River Dan on 10/14/14 at 12:51 AM ET

redxblack's avatar

Several AHL teams draw better than Florida, Arizona and Columbus. Cleveland’s AHL franchise has better attendance numbers than Florida, and the AHL tickets are more expensive.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 10/14/14 at 09:32 AM ET

Primis's avatar

Several AHL teams draw better than Florida, Arizona and Columbus. Cleveland’s AHL franchise has better attendance numbers than Florida, and the AHL tickets are more expensive.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 10/14/14 at 09:32 AM ET

Depends on how you look at it.  Last year’s AHL numbers had Hershey at 9,664/game, Grand Rapids at 8,220/game, Lake Erie at 8,114/game, and Providence at 8,135/game.  But we don’t know how good (or bad) Florida’s attendance will get this year without them inflating numbers like they have been.  To say they “outdrew” them is a bit misleading, at least so far.

Heck the ECHL Ontario Reign drew 8,158/game last year.  ECHL Fort Wayne would often be around that 8,000/game mark too but…. the fanbase has gotten a bit impatient with on-ice “struggles”.

The difference of course is that on a good day some of these minor pro markets can draw 10,000 for a game.  On a good day, the NHL club can draw 15,000-18,000, even the bad clubs in bad markets.

Posted by Primis on 10/14/14 at 10:19 AM ET

redxblack's avatar

Lake Erie hasn’t had a winning season yet (swept out of the first round in their only playoff appearance) and can pull those numbers. They had over 13k to their opener.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 10/14/14 at 11:36 AM ET

Primis's avatar

Lake Erie hasn’t had a winning season yet (swept out of the first round in their only playoff appearance) and can pull those numbers. They had over 13k to their opener.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 10/14/14 at 11:36 AM ET

The problem is the times they only draw 3,000-4,000.  They don’t reliably pull good numbers, so much as the huge crowds balance out the smaller ones.

Cincy in the ECHL has exact same problem.  Can draw huge crowds for one game (11,000), and draw 2,500 the next.

Posted by Primis on 10/14/14 at 11:48 AM ET

Avatar

As a Canadian who has lived in Florida longer than the Panthers and as a huge hockey and Panthers fan I too have become lethargic when it comes to going to Panther games. The constant losing for over a decade with one winning seasons has turned sports fans to Heat, Dolphins and college sports. For me the location of the arena is also a factor. I live near the beach in east Broward County and there is no east/west freeway, so it takes an hour though rush hour traffic and then back again after watching the team lose and paying $20.00 to park when it is much more enjoyable to stay home and watch on TV…It is great fun to go to a Panthers game and cheer them on but there has been little to cheer. THEY DON’T SCORE ANY GOALS! You sit there for an entire game and the only team that scores is the opposing team. Panthers are Boring with a capital B. As a huge hockey fan I can honestly say the Panthers are not worth more than a free ticket because the $20.00 to park is not worth the cost. Nobody but a complete moron would pay to see their team lose game after game and usually getting shutout in the process. I am so tired of watching them. How can anyone justify driving all the way to the arena, paying good money to watch a team that can’t score on a nightly basis? Being a Panthers fan is most frustrating. You want to cheer them but they never score. You want to go to a game but when you do pay and go you feel like you have been conned and the $20.00 parking would have been better spent on the lottery. As a hockey fan I can say there are no fans in the arena for good reason, the Panthers have ruined the fan base with boring losing hockey for over a decade. Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me. The fans are not going to be fooled by boring goalless hockey any more.  Sure it easy to say we don’t deserve a team but I would say we didn’t deserve Keenan and Martin who ruined this team for more than a decade. Dale Tallon is doing a good job but it takes time for your draft picks to develop, in the mean time fans are tired of going to watch their team lose. Two home games and no goals and people wonder why there are no fans in the arena. A decade of losing watching a team that is incapable of scoring is not going to put people in the arena.

Posted by Puckbubba on 10/14/14 at 12:43 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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