Kukla's Korner Hockey

Kukla's Korner Hockey

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

10/14/2014 at 12:16am EDT

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."

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About Kukla's Korner Hockey

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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