PRINCETON, N.J. – Drawing almost 83,000 on Saturday, the ECHL surpassed four million fans for the seventh time while increasing its average attendance for the second straight year. The ECHL drew 4,035,770 for 1,008 games, averaging 4,004 per game, up more than two percent from last season when the league increased its average for the first time since 1996-97.
Las Vegas had its second sellout of the season with 7,773 on Saturday after drawing 6,710 on Friday. The Wranglers finish sixth in the league averaging 5,193 per game, up more than four percent from 2003-04. The 10,773 on Saturday was the fourth largest crowd of the year for San Diego, which had four of the top six and six of the Top 10 crowds in 2004-05. The Gulls finished third in the league with an average of 5,678, up almost 13 percent from the team’s expansion season in 2003-04.
Drawing 13,991 for its final two games, Florida finishes atop the ECHL for the sixth consecutive season with 223,479 and 6,207 per game. Gwinnett led the league by raising its average attendance more than 20 percent from 2003-04, finishing second with 6,045 per game. The Gladiators had the second-largest and the third-largest crowds of the season with sellout crowds of 11,355 and had a crowd of 10,258.
The ECHL had 42 sellouts in the regular season led by Victoria with nine in its temporary home at Bear Mountain Arena (2,513) and Alaska with eight at Sullivan Arena (6,251). Idaho and Florida, who combined to sellout all five games of the 2004 Kelly Cup Finals, each had six sellouts while Augusta, Gwinnett, Las Vegas, Reading and Toledo each had two sellouts and Columbia, Long Beach, Louisiana, Trenton and Wheeling all had one sellout.
Bakersfield drew the six largest crowds in its history, including four crowds of more than 8,000, and increased its average attendance almost 20 percent from its expansion season in 2003-04 to finish fifth in the league with 5,408 per game. Long Beach had the five largest crowds in its two-year history and averaged 3,057 per game, up more than 16 percent from the team’s expansion season in 2003-04. Reading drew the largest crowd in its four-year history with 7,248 on October 23 and finishes fourth at 5,412 per game, a slight increase from 2003-04.
Thirteen teams saw their average attendance increase including Charlotte, up almost 12 percent, and Alaska, up more than nine percent from 2003-04 when the Aces increased their attendance by more than 42 percent.
After almost being forced to cancel the season in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan, Pensacola increased its attendance by more than 8 1/2 percent. The Ice Pilots had 6,672 in attendance on Saturday, the second-largest crowd of the year, when they were presented the Brabham Cup, the trophy awarded annually to the ECHL regular-season point champion.
Pee Dee had a season-high crowd of 4,957 at its game on Friday and increased its attendance by more than six percent. Wheeling had its second-largest crowd of the season with 5,380 on Saturday and increased its attendance by almost four percent.
Augusta increased its attendance by more than 3 1/2 percent while Mississippi, which had its largest crowd of the year with 7,126 on Friday, improved by almost three percent from 2003-04.