NAHL attendance hits one million mark for third straight season
April 17, 2014
For the third straight season, over 1,000,000 fans went through the turnstyles of NAHL arenas during the 2013-14 regular season. It continues a trend that began roughly four years ago, further proving that the NAHL and the product that is on the ice each and every night, is more popular now than ever before.
Between the 24 teams in the league, an average of 1,391 fans came to regular season games in 2013-14. A total of 1,002,027 fans went through NAHL turnstyles this season. The 1,391 fans per game is the second highest average total in NAHL history. Last season, an average of 1,524 fans attended NAHL games, which set an all-time record.
“One of the unique and endearing things about the NAHL is the impact that our players and teams have in their respective communities. I think fans can relate to and identify with the players and as a result they feel a true connection to the teams,” said NAHL Commissioner Mark Frankenfeld. “I think it is a testament to our ownership groups and the emphasis they place on being involved in their respective communities. It transcends beyond the ice, as all of our clubs have made it a priority to become involved in special events, projects and charities within their communities that shows that they have a true passion for what they do and to make an impact during their time involved in the NAHL.”
The strength behind the numbers was the continued solid attendance for teams like Corpus Christi, Wenatchee, Johnstown, Amarillo, Fairbanks, Aberdeen, Bismarck and Topeka. The addition of teams in Hidalgo and North Richland Hills, Texas also saw several thousands of fans be introduced to the NAHL product. Teams continued to capitalize on an entertaining product, along with several community-based initiatives to introduce their players to their respective communities.
Finally, there was the talent level of the players, which saw 130 make NCAA commitments to date and eight more with NAHL ties ranked in the final 2014 NHL Central Scouting rankings.
The Corpus Christi IceRays led the NAHL in attendance with an average of 3,235 fans. They were bolstered by an incredible pair of crowds during the final weekend of the NAHL regular season which saw 12,756 fans attend the back-to-back games, which set an new NAHL record for largest crowd to witness a weekend series.
“I think our fans in Corpus Christi are realizing just how good the quality of the NAHL is. I think the first couple of years, it was tough for them to understand what happened to our players once they left, but now that they are seeing guys get drafted in the NHL and sign NHL contracts, they really understand that these are some of the brightest stars of tomorrow,” said Corpus Christi IceRays General Manager Pat Dunn. “We have had some great success this season with local corporations and companies and bringing their employees to the game and giving them a fun night out with their co-workers and families. Our staff works tirelessly and we have great success with our specialty nights.”
The Wenatchee Wild were second in league attendance with just over 3,000 fans per game. It will all done under new ownership as well and Director of Sales and Marketing Don West said that the fans and the community of Wenatchee were quick to respond to the new Wild. “I think the biggest surprise to us was how the fans responded to the change in ownership, because we weren't sure what to expect. We had a very young and inexperienced team to start the season, but from the start you could see fans really grow to love the guys and the effort they gave from the start,” said West. "The office staff was very motivated to get people behind us and see the building full. We made ourselves available to the community. It really all started with the sponsors reaching our to their base and growing it from there. We had a lot of people come back to watch the Wild that maybe had been to a couple of games back in 2008, 2009, so it had been a while since they experienced a game.”
Johnstown Tomahawks Owner and Governor Rick Bouchard said that year two was just as popular as year one. “I feel that our players and the coaches did a really good job,”?Bouchard said. “The players were involved in all of the community service with the schools and hospitals. They took it from last year and knocked it out of the park again. I couldn’t be happier about how the team was involved in the community. They never complained. They asked where they could go to be a part of the community.”
The Fairbanks Ice Dogs once again continued their tradition of being of the most popular events in town. No team in the NAHL continues to sell out their building more often than the Ice Dogs. It is something that Ice Dogs General Manager Rob Proffitt says that is because the games have continued to be a tradition. “It is more than a hockey game to our fans, it is an event. It can be a hockey game for the die-hard hockey fans, it can be a social gathering to those who want to see their friends and have a good night out with the family and it is entertaining for all age levels,” said Proffitt. “We really try and put on a good show for them and the hockey speaks for itself. In the wintertime, there are a limited amount of things to do and Ice Dogs home games have become one of those things that is a tradition now amongst the community. There is a multitude of things they can do at a game, but we try and cater to everyone.”
Credit for numbers like this not only extends to the fans, but also to the 600 players in the league, who not only work hard on the ice, but also make time for team activities in their communities off the ice. It also goes to the owners, coaches and staffs across the league, who spend tireless hours of preparing their teams and getting the word out about the excitement that is the NAHL. The NAHL would like to thank everyone for another terrific season and your continued support of the League of Opportunity.