Attendance Trend Up For Expanded ECHL

There were four sellouts on opening weekend in the ECHL and 150,774 fans attended 32 games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. South Carolina had the largest opening night crowd with 8,053 on Saturday while Greensboro had 7,281 on Friday, almost double its home opening crowd of 4,123 in 2002-03.

The 150,774 fans is more than attended 33 games on opening weekend last weekend for both the ECHL (116,747 fans for 28 games) and the West Coast Hockey League (32,397 for five games). The ECHL averaged 4,711 fans on opening weekend, up 13 percent from last season’s 4,170 average for the ECHL and up 4.2 percent from the 4,520 average on opening weekend in 2002-03 for the ECHL and WCHL combined.

Idaho had a near capacity crowd of 5,002 and Toledo had a sellout crowd of 5,361 on Friday while Johnstown (4,011) and Reading (7,215) both had capacity crowds on Saturday. The average attendance for the 22 home openers on opening weekend was 5,424, an increase of 7.9 percent from last year’s average of 5,026. Peoria had 7,053 for its opener on Saturday, up almost 16 percent from last season, while Charlotte drew 6,329 and Louisiana had 6,025, up more than 20 percent from 2002-03.

The strong attendance should continue on Tuesday as Las Vegas opens the new 7,773-seat Orleans Arena against Bakersfield and into the weekend as Alaska, Florida, Greenville and Gwinnett all play their home openers. Gwinnett will be playing its first-ever game in the new Gwinnett Civic and Culture Center when it hosts Augusta on Friday. In 2002-03, Florida drew 6,761 fans for its opener while Greenville had 6,632 fans and Alaska had 5,991. The Aces, who did not play opening weekend and drew over 7,000 for two preseason games against Trenton, host Fresno on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

San Diego, which had 12,920 on opening night in 2002-03, plays its home opener on November 1 against rival Idaho while Long Beach, which had 6,340 for opening night last season, opens the same night against Bakersfield. Texas will open the new state-of-the-art Arena at the Southeast Entertainment Complex on November 8 against Louisiana. Fresno is the last team to open at home as it awaits completion of the 13,800-seat Save Mart Center where the Falcons will host Bakersfield on November 16.