There are few who will disagree that what the people of Glens Falls have had to deal with when it came to minor league hockey. Three teams in three seasons over two leagues with the last and current team being a level down from the other two teams– I could understand why fans would be fed up to an extent. However, when the spotlight of the league is on your arena and it’s just a bit over three-quarters full, it doesn’t look good overall for the support of the league or team.
On Wednesday– which is a day that could be one of the worst for putting an All-Star Game together, just ask the NHL’s failed mid-week ASG in Dallas years ago– the ECHL All-Stars squeaked out an 8-7 victory against the Adirondack Thunder. The game showed defense on full display, as the ECHL team had only 23 shots, which was the fewest shots by a team in an All-Star Classic. The combined 53 shots were also an all-time low for the league’s mid-season game.
Yet, the most interesting number was the attendance. The attendance was announced as 3,767 in the 4,794-seat Glens Falls Civic Center, which means it was only at 78.6% capacity. For a premier event, that seems very low and very undesired for the league and the team hosting the event. Again, the mid-week spot is definitely not the best time to hold a game, but weekends are the way teams get their income for home dates, so it’s understandable why teams wouldn’t want to give up their weekend revenue for the event.
Looking back on past All-Star Classics, this is how they stack up:
- 2015, Orlando: 9,288 (97.2% capacity)
- 2013, Colorado: 5,289 (100%)
- 2011, Bakersfield: 7,397 (84.2%)
- 2010, Ontario: 7,615 (81.1%)
- 2009, Reading: 5,693 (86.6%)
- 2008, Stockton: 7,455 (76.6%)
- 2007, Boise: 4,371 (87.3%)
These are from the ECHL’s website and shows that there has been one worse percentage at capacity, the sheer lack of mass for a premiere event is a bit disheartening. Of course, The Sin Bin’s Barry Janssen has said that the league as a whole has been down in their attendance figures, aiming for the lowest average in a decade.
However, the stats for Adirondack is up by 13% by the time those figures were put up and it seemed like the league and area were pushing hard– so is it a cause for concern that the Civic Center wasn’t fuller than it actually was?
With a confusing format and mid-week date, you could see why people wouldn’t want to go ahead and head out to the rink for this game, as gimmicky and fun as it turned out. I’m sure that when the numbers come out, the city will be happy with the revenue they got from people visiting to see the game and paid for local hotels, restaurants, and the like– but internally…is it a good, bad, or status quo result for the ECHL and Thunder brass? With fans making the arena look solid in the beginning, the length and format may have gotten to folks, who seemed to thin out after the first-half of play, before the other parts of the format happened.
Next year, surprisingly, the ECHL will have another All-Star Classic next season– which breaks from their ideal of holding it every other year. The hosts will be the Indy Fuel, which has a fanbase that has been dwindling a bit this season (as seen in Janssen’s article) and with a team that hasn’t been close their best this season, as well as a record that has gotten worse each season.
One has to wonder how much more fans could take and if they’d be able to push their personal feelings of the team aside for a league event that’s in their backyard? The game will be on a Monday (January 15) and we can only wait and see what happens in 361 days while hoping the Fuel gets better to bring more fans out and that the league simplifies the game so even the casual fan can understand it.