Kukla's Korner

Tasca's Take

Opportunity Knocks

In a nice writeup on the city's Central Hockey League expansion team, David Migoya notes how minor league hockey has a lengthy history of failure in Denver:

What makes this group different from prior minor-league teams, though, is a squad of professionals with a new technology at their disposal, enabling them to provide a show that's more than just a traditional hockey game.

There's a new high-definition video board and a light-and-sound show by Edge, the same guys who handle shows at Sports Authority Field at Mile High for Broncos and Outlaws games. The team even has photo-op plans for a refurbished 1970s-era Zamboni that has been sitting idle at the Coliseum for years.

Although digital video boards, rock music, spotlights, ice girls, and hyped-up public address announcers are considered mandatory requirements in the modern day sports age, I sometimes wonder if any of those things truly have an impact on attendance figures at hockey games.  The answer is probably no, but it's hard to deny that the aforementioned features enhance the arena experience for most fans. 

With that said, I don't think the lack of a fancy game day presentation detracts from the arena experience.  Sure, if the Denver Coliseum didn't install a video board, fans wouldn't be able to watch instant replays, and that's certainly an inconvenience for someone who's getting a beer when the winning goal is scored.  But something tells me a fan who's in the concourse during a tie game probably isn't all that interested in the outcome anyway.  He's there to have a good time, and a good time can be had without a video board.  It's been proven for decades.

There's no doubt that promotional giveaways are a huge draw, particularly at the minor league level, because of the focus on attracting families.  But when it comes right down to it, the entertainment value of the game itself is what keeps fans coming back to the rink.  When a die hard hockey fan takes a prospective fan to a game, he's hoping for a fast-paced, hard-hitting contest with a slew of scoring chances and great intensity.  We all know that wonderful combination is the best sell to someone who's never seen a hockey game before.

An argument can be made that hockey fans are the best ambassadors of the game.  Those of us who've followed the sport long enough can name friends who became hooked on hockey after we took them to their first game.  And even with another lengthy NHL lockout on the horizon, the opportunity to create new hockey addicts still exists for fans who live in college, junior, or minor league markets. 

The lockout should serve as a stark reminder that the NHL is not the only quality league in North America.  As David Migoya points out, Denver hockey fans do have an alternative. 

Here's hoping some of them take advantage of it.

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About Tasca's Take

Tasca's Take is written by Joe Tasca. Born and raised in Westerly, Rhode Island, Joe works as a broadcaster for seven radio stations in southern New England. Whether that's a testament to his on-air ability or because he has a desparate need for money is debatable.

Joe spends his summers playing golf, enjoying the beauty of Misquamicut Beach, and wining and dining girls who are easily awed by the mere presence of a radio personality. During the winter months, he can usually be found taking in a hockey game somewhere in North America. In the spring, he spends much of his time in botanical gardens tiptoeing through the tulips, while autumn is a time to frolic with his golden retrievers through piles of his neighbors’ leaves.