ECHL Nears 63 Million Regular Season Fans

Celebrating its 20th season in 2007-08, the ECHL has had 62,916,216 fans watch 14,229 regular season games and 3,851,430 fans who have watched 1,016 postseason games for a total of 66,767,646 who have passed through the gates since the league first took the ice in 1988-89 with five teams in four states.

The third-longest tenured professional hockey league behind only the National Hockey League and the American Hockey League, the ECHL has grown into a coast-to-coast league that has 25 teams playing in 17 states and British Columbia, welcoming more than four million fans each of the past four seasons and 10 of the last 11 years.

The third week of the season saw Alaska and Reading both play their home openers while Stockton welcomed 17,842 fans for its “Pink in the Rink II” series with Idaho. The Thunder had a capacity crowd of 9,737 on Saturday and raised their average attendance to a league-leading 8,817 per game, up more than 30 percent from a year ago.

Mississippi is averaging 4,295 per game, an increase of 20 percent from 2004-05 which was the last season that the Sea Wolves played before missing two years in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Dayton and Augusta have both raised their average attendance by more than 19 percent to 4,536 per game and 3,161 per game, respectively.

South Carolina’s average is up by almost 17 percent to 6,017 per game, including 8,652 for the home opener, while Florida is averaging 7,283 at the 7,080-seat Germain Arena, up 14 percent from a year ago. The Everblades have never averaged less than 6,200 since joining the ECHL in 1998-99 and they led the league in attendance for a record five straight years from 2000-05.

Utah welcomed 9,790 for its “Pink in the Rink” promotion and has raised its average attendance by almost 14 percent while Reading is up more than nine percent to 5,930 including 7,090 for its home opener on Saturday. The 25 home openers in the ECHL drew an average of 5,509 per game and included sellouts in Charlotte, Elmira, Florida and Idaho and crowds of more than 8,600 in South Carolina and Stockton.

There have been seven sellouts this season, including two for the expansion Elmira Jackals, and Gwinnett had 10,332 on Oct. 27, the sixth time in the last three seasons that the Gladiators have had a crowd over 10,000.