Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Bulldogs drawing flies in Hamilton

If the Hamilton Bulldogs won the Calder Cup, wonders hockey club owner Michael Andlauer, would it be worth organizing a parade? ...

The Bulldogs, one win shy of the American Hockey League semifinals entering a game in Winnipeg last [week], drew just 1,703 fans for a Sunday matinée at Copps Coliseum.

That followed crowds of 3,270 Saturday and 2,177 last Tuesday.
The Bulldogs are looking a lot like a team that could win the Cup this year, up 2-0 on the Chicago Wolves in the conference finals, but the way the team's attendance has fallen off a cliff in the postseason has to be a huge concern.

Hamilton drew close to 5,000 per game during the regular season.

I'm planning on making the trip to Hamilton at least once should the team make the finals.



At 2:07 p.m., May 22, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wild guesses: playoff ticket prices? Warm weather? Closed factories?

At 2:21 p.m., May 22, 2007, Blogger Sherry said...

James, I highly recommend you taking in a game if you can. I've been to a couple of Bulldogs games and the hockey, the atmosphere is absolutely fantastic. Despite a sparse crowd, they at least get very into it.

As for playoff ticket prices, they're the same price all over the arena and the highest they've gone is $27, which is only about $5 more than regular season. And that's for seating ANYWHERE in the arena. The one thing you notice is that a large majority of their attendance during the regular season are kids. I think part of the reason it's not a big draw is because of the fact there doesn't seem to be any rivalry with the teams they've played so far. They haven't had much history with the teams they've been facing. I think the Bulldogs' biggest draw during the regular season is when they play the Marlies because of the geography. Then again, in Hamilton it's all about the TigerCats anyways. Despite the abysmal season, the TiCats are a large part of the Hamilton community and the 'Dogs haven't really done that quite yet.

At 4:35 p.m., May 22, 2007, Blogger sager said...

The "family factor" Sherry pointed out seems interesting... it's ot the time of year where you'd bring a carload of children to a hockey game... kind of makes the argument for a shorter schedule.

Won't the Calder Cup actually end after the Stanley Cup?

At 4:49 p.m., May 22, 2007, Blogger James Mirtle said...

It may, although the NHL is really stretching out their schedule.

The AHL playoffs traditionally start quite a bit later than in the NHL.

At 8:47 p.m., May 22, 2007, Anonymous Patrick Williams said...

This is a common problem in most AHL markets come playoff time, though the Hamilton situation is an extreme case.

Many AHL teams rely heavily on group sales during the regular season. Without being privy to the precise numbers, I would venture to say that group sales are "1B" to the "1A" that is season-ticket sales in determining a team's success at the box office.

The short advance time for playoff schedules, spring weather and other factors make group sales all but impossible.

Hershey, on the other hand, has a good season-ticket base and a strong hold on their drawing area. The Bears lead the AHL in playoff attendance (7,146), and the Bears went over the 9,000 mark this past weekend.

All of it points to the question of whether AHL teams rely much too heavily on sales to groups (groups that are not necessarily always there to watch hockey) that show up once a season to the exclusion of building an actual base of fans that show up every night.

At 8:51 p.m., May 22, 2007, Anonymous Patrick Williams said...

By the way, regarding whether the AHL will be the last league to turn off the lights this season, it surely is looking that way.

Both conference finals are only two games in and probably will not conclude until this weekend at the earliest.

AHL series tend to drag out, particularly if there are building availability issues, and the finals quite possibly will drag out a bit.

At 11:22 p.m., May 22, 2007, Anonymous SabreMark said...

Please link to this post next time someone mentions how Hamilton should have an NHL franchise...


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