The Toledo Walleye have not only broken the all-time professional hockey attendance mark for the city, they have shattered it. With three games this past weekend, they welcomed more than 22,500 fans to Lucas County Arena, bringing their total attendance so to 205,135 with three games remaining in the regular season.
Two of their three games were sellouts with 7,461 fans passing through the gates for their March 5 game against Trenton, while 8,000 witnessed the Walleye defeat Charlotte in overtime on March 6. They now have 11 sellouts for the year, just one behind Elmira, which leads the league with 12 sellouts. Toledo also took over the league lead for average attendance with 6,216 fans per game.
Elmira collected their 12th sellout of the season on March 6, while Idaho had 5,279 in attendance for their game against Bakersfield on Saturday, handing them their sixth sellout of the year.
Elmira has raised its average 11.7 percent to 3,332 per game which is 88.1 percent of capacity at First Arena. The Jackals have had 31 sellouts since joining the ECHL five a year ago which tied for the league lead.
To purchase tickets for any ECHL game go to ECHL.com/tickets.shtml.
The third-longest tenured professional hockey league behind only the National Hockey League and the American Hockey League, the ECHL is the only minor professional hockey league to increase average attendance each of the last two seasons. The Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League has averaged more than 4,000 fans each of the last five seasons and 17 times in the last 19 years while drawing more than 3 million fans for 16 straight seasons.
Five returning teams are ahead of their average attendance from 2008-09 led by Cincinnati with 17.6 percent. The Cyclones led minor professional hockey with a 36 percent increase in 2007-08 and ranked second a year ago with a 23 percent increase.
Following Elmira is Utah, which has raised its average attendance by 8.6 percent to 3,969 per game; Kalamazoo raised their average attendance to 3,405 and is up 6.8 percent. Ontario rounds out the top five with an increase of 5.2 percent and are second in the league with an average of 6,157 fans per game and six home games left in the regular season.
Stockton is third in the league with 5,933 per game while Bakersfield is fourth with 5,336 and Gwinnett rounds out the top five with 5,329 per game. The Thunder have led the league in attendance each of their first four seasons and are trying to tie the league record of five seasons set by Florida from 2000-05.