Attendance Rises Following Break

The biggest ECHL crowd of the year in Charlotte, the largest crowd in Toledo hockey history, the second-largest crowd of the season in Bakersfield and Elmira’s league-leading eighth sellout helped raise attendance to 4,195 per game which is up almost eight percent from the first 11 weeks of 2008-09.

The Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League has drawn 1,254,170 and surpassed one million fans in 237 games which is the fastest since 206 games in 1999-2000.

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Charlotte had 10,980 on Dec. 26 which exceeded the previous league season high of 10,920 in Cincinnati on Nov. 6. It was 39th sellout in the last six seasons for the Checkers which is second to Idaho which has had 42 sellouts during the same period.

Toledo had a standing-room-only crowd of 8,200 at Lucas County Arena on Dec. 27 breaking the record of 8,000 set on Opening Night on Oct. 15. It is the fifth sellout of the year for the Walleye, who are third in the league with 5,767 per game which is up 46.8 percent from 2006-07 when the team played its last season in the Toledo Sports Arena.

Elmira had 4,076 on Dec. 26 for its third-largest crowd of the year and league-leading eighth sellout of the season. The Jackals are averaging 3,804 per game which is 100.5 percent of capacity at First Arena and up more than 14 percent from a year ago. Elmira has had 27 sellouts since joining the ECHL and led the league its first season in 2007-08 with 14 sellouts and tied for the lead a year ago with five sellouts.

Five returning teams are ahead of their average attendance from last year led by Cincinnati with 23.9 percent. The Cyclones led minor professional hockey with a 36 percent increase in 2007-08 and were second in 2008-09 with a 23 percent increase.

Ontario had 7,365 on Dec. 28 to raise its league-leading average to 6,039 per game which is up 3.1 percent from their inaugural season in 2008-09 when they ranked second in the league with 5,856 per game.

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.

Stockton is second with 5,874 per game after leading the league in attendance each of their first four seasons. The Thunder are trying to tie the league record of five seasons set by Florida from 2000-05.

Alaska has raised its average attendance 5.3 percent to 4,928 while Utah’s average is up 2.6 percent to 3,752 per game.