Morning Papers Take: Avalanche fans don’t yet believe

Posted by Richard Pollock in Colorado Avalanche,Morning Papers take,NHL Morning Papers on November 5, 2009 — 4 Comments

In the Western Conference Morning Papers, Adrian Dater of the Denver Post wrote about the lack of fans at the Avalanche home game last night:

Apparently, Avalanche fans are going to need a little more proof that their team is as good as its record before they start showing up in larger numbers.

The smallest crowd in Avs history witnessed Colorado’s Western Conference-leading 11th win and 24th point Wednesday night, a 4-1 triumph over the Phoenix Coyotes. The announced attendance of 11,012 was more than 2,000 fewer than the previous low crowd, but that didn’t stop the Avs from staying perfect (5-0) on home ice.

“Our job is just to go out and play hockey and our job is to provide entertainment for our fans,” Avs coach Joe Sacco said. “I think that we’ve done a good job of that this year so far.”

Terry Frei said just three days ago that the Avalanche’s early season success was a bigger story in Canada than it was in Denver.  Well, I guess it is fair to say that he wasn’t kidding.  That is all I could think of when I read Dater’s numbers that you see above. 

Now, attendance is a touchy subject, especially with the economy as it is.  You never want to tell people how to spend their hard earned money, but these numbers are extremely surprising.  First, the economy was bad last year, and the Avs were worse, yet last night’s crowd was the worst of all-time.  That boggles my mind; especially considering the Avs’ amazing start.  Sure Avs fans may not believe this team is for real, and in that respect they are not alone, but can’t at least 12,000 fans come out to cheer this team on?

After taking a look at the Avalanche’s ticket prices, you can get tickets in the upper deck for tomorrow’s game against the Hawks for $38.00 each.  Sure that isn’t cheap, but it isn’t outlandish for a hockey game. 

Is Denver a good hockey market?  I think so.  But this city needs to show its support for the team when it isn’t winning–and let’s admit, the area was spoiled with successful Avalanche teams for a long time.  If the Avs keep winning and the fans continue to stay away, that will be a big concern for the NHL.

Strangely enough, my colleague David chose the same issue to write his Morning Papers Take on.  Here is David’s opinion:

The Avs are a 1st place team but only drawing 25th overall with an average so far this season of 14,759 fans.

Now a number of Avs fans have come to their team’s defense suggesting that there were a number of factors involved in last night’s poor attendance, namely;   high ticket prices, it was a mid week game, possible World Series clinching game on TV, Phoenix Coyotes in town, ownership dumping salary in the offseason and finally these were the 2 worst teams in the Western Conference last season.

The average ticket price for Colorado is around $71.  While many are pleasantly surprised by the Avalanche’s current position, the fact of the matter is this was a 15th place team last season and Colorado didn’t factor that into their ticket pricing.  Combine that with the poor economy, poor season ticket sales as many expected this team to be re-building and you get an exciting, 1st place team with only 11,000 in the stands.  Ownership made a mistake not factoring same into its pricing structure this summer.

  • rusty

    The word on the street in Denver is that the town still has basketball fever and is waiting for the Avs to actually make some noise before they come back.

  • Bob Roberts

    “…high ticket prices, it was a mid week game, possible World Series clinching game on TV,…”

    All factors worth noting, but…

    “…especially with the [US] economy as it is…”

    is the most important one. “Terry Frei said just three days ago that the Avalanche’s early season success was a bigger story in Canada than it was in Denver.” I’ll take his word for that, but you can take my word for this: a KEY factor in the attendance at US NHL games is JOBLESSNESS. The US economy is in much worse shape than Canada’s. We are fortunate at this time and the US is suffering badly.

    I’ll bet there are a lot of words on the street in Denver because there are a lot of people there with no work to go to.

  • http://www.illegalcurve.com Richard

    Bob,

    I agree, which is why the topic is a difficult one. At the same time, as I noted in the post, the economy was bad last year and the Avs were WAY worse than they are now–with far less hope. For them to have more fans less year at this time than this year seems to be a concern.

  • Bob Roberts

    Do you know what the season ticket sales are this year over last? I wonder about this factor as the economy dropped in late September and October; which would mean, I think, that the season ticket holders had already received their tickets and would be counted as butts in the seats whether they went or not or sold off their tickets to try to get some cash. I’m thinking there were a lot of non-renewals this year compared to last year.

    And Sakic had 12 points in 11 games before HIS year went south, for example. Stastny played only 45 games all season…