We are seeing a growing trend in the newer hockey markets. I like to call them the teams below the Mason Dixon Line and the kinds of places that hockey just should not be, but hey what do I know I write about sports for a living. The latest culprit to make the fail to draw list are the Atlanta Thrashers. They set a new team low when just 8.820 people were the announced attendance for a game on October 15th. Of course last Thursday they drew just 8,420 fans to set a new low mark.
Overall through the start of the new NHL season they are 29th in attendance, beating just the Phoenix Coyotes. They are averaging just 10,437 fans per home game and have sold just 56.3% of their tickets. The news gets a whole lot worse, if we throw out the 15k plus that showed up for opening night then the average attendance dips to 9,148. That would have them ranked last in attendance for the current year.
For the last full NHL season the Thrashers ranked 28th in attendance and drew 13,607 fans on average per home game. So we have to decide is this a economic issue, or is this a failure by the NHL to build up new markets for itself? After all this is the Thrashers 11th NHL season. Of course in that time they have only made the playoffs just once.
This year’s version of the team are 6-5-3 and look to be on a bit of an up tick, but that may not matter to Atlanta Sports fans who have the Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta Hawks, and Georgia Bulldogs to cheer for. Simply but this is the second time Atlanta has had a NHL team, and it just doesn’t seem that it is or ever will be a great hockey market.