The San Diego Gulls are expecting a capacity and team ECHL record crowd of 12,920 for their home opener on Saturday when they host the Stockton Thunder at ipayOne Center at the Sports Arena. The Charlotte Checkers will get their first look at the new Charlotte Bobcats Arena on Sunday when they host the South Carolina Stingrays for their home opener.
Located in downtown Charlotte, the $200 million arena has a listed capacity of 6,800 for Checkers games, but additional sections can be opened to accommodate larger crowds. The state-of-the-art facility opened October 21 and is the home of the Checkers, the Charlotte Bobcats of the National Basketball Association and the Charlotte Sting of the WNBA.
San Diego drew 11,922 for its home opener in 2004, the first of three crowds over 10,000 for the team in the 12,920-seat ipayOne Center at the Sports Arena. The Gulls were 23-8-5 at home in 2004-05 and are 53-13-6 in two seasons at home in the ECHL.
The first 21 home openers have drawn 119,350 for an average of 5,683 per game, including a sellout crowd at the Toledo Sports Arena on October 21. Bakersfield has the largest home-opening crowd with 8,263 on October 22 while Dayton, Fresno, Reading, South Carolina and Trenton all drew crowds over 7,000 for their home openers. Florida had over 12,000 for its first two home dates which were postponed following Hurricane Wilma.
The Victoria Salmon Kings will play their first game in the new Save-On-Foods Centre on November 10 when they host the Stockton Thunder, who will open the new Stockton Arena on December 10 when they host Phoenix.