The final ECHL team to play its home opener, Fresno had a crowd of 12,462 on Sunday in a 4-3 overtime loss against Bakersfield. It was the first game for the Falcons, who opened the season with an 11-game road swing, at the new $100 million Save Mart Center at Fresno State.
The crowd of 12,462 is the second-largest opening night crowd in ECHL history surpassing the 12,247 by the New Orleans Brass for the opener at the New Orleans Arena, a 2-1 loss to Baton Rouge. The largest opening night crowd is 14,108 by Greenville when the Grrrowl opened the BI-LO Center with a 9-6 win over Charlotte on October 16, 1998. The largest crowd in ECHL history is 20,911 by the Greensboro Monarchs at the Greensboro Coliseum for a 7-1 win over Charlotte on January 15, 1994.
Six ECHL teams (Florida, Greenville, Johnstown, Reading, Texas and Toledo) had sellout crowds and five others (Columbia, Fresno, Idaho, Las Vegas and Trenton) were over 90 percent of capacity for opening night as the ECHL drew 187,907 and averaged 6,062 fans for its 31 home openers. The 22 former ECHL teams drew 124,792 and averaged 5,672 for their home openers, up more than 10 percent from the average of 5,125 in 2002-03. The 28 ECHL and WCHL teams that played in 2002-03 drew 165,928 and averaged 5,926 for their home openers, up almost 14 percent compared to 129,963 and 5,199 in 2002-03.
Johnstown had a standing room only crowd of 4,191, the largest crowd to watch an ECHL game at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena, for its 3-1 win over Wheeling on Friday. The Chiefs already have two sellouts in 2003-04 and are averaging 2,623 per game, up almost 17 percent from 2002-03.
In the first five weeks of the season, the ECHL has drawn 741,736 for 195 games and is averaging 3,804 per game, up almost eight percent from the ECHL average of 3,531 for the 172 games played during the first five weeks of 2002-03. The ECHL and WCHL combined to draw 760,695 for 203 games in the first five weeks of 2002-03, an average of 3,747 per game.