Opening Weekend attendance shows big increase


The ECHL averaged nearly 6,000 fans per game on opening weekend, with a total of 119,285 fans attending the 20 games for an average of 5,964 per game. That is an increase of 18.3% over last season when the league averaged 5,042 fans per game during opening weekend.


Three of the ECHL’s four new teams held their home openers over the weekend, each with impressive turnouts. Fort Wayne led the way with a crowd of 10,091 for its first ECHL game on Friday against Kalamazoo. Evansville opened its home schedule against the Komets on Saturday and welcomed 8,886 to Ford Center, while San Francisco had a crowd of 8,277 for its first game at the Cow Palace on Friday against Bakersfield.


Ontario, which has led the ECHL in attendance each of the last three seasons, had the largest home opening crowd in its five-season history with a sell-out crowd of 9,616 on Saturday against Stockton.


Utah had an increase of nearly 40% over last season as the Grizzlies welcomed 7,247 fans to Maverik Center on Saturday against Idaho for their largest home opening crowd since joining the ECHL in 2005-06.


South Carolina, celebrating its 20th season in the ECHL in 2012-13, saw an increase of over 3,000 from last season’s opener with a crowd of 6,413 at North Charleston Coliseum on Saturday against Gwinnett.


Florida had its largest home-opening crowd since 2008-09 on Friday as 6,487 fans were at Germain Arena to see the 2012 Kelly Cup championship banner raised to the rafters.


Trenton had its largest crowd in five seasons on Friday with 5,346 for its 3-1 win against Greenville.


Reading had a 30% increase over its opener last season as the Royals welcomed 5,165 to Sovereign Center on Saturday.


The Toledo Walleye had 8,000 fans at Huntington Center on Saturday against Kalamazoo, giving the Walleye sell-out crowds in each of its four home openers in team history.


Colorado had back-to-back sell-outs of 5,289 on Friday and Saturday, extending their minor league hockey record of sell-out streaks to 350 consecutive games.


Six teams host their 2012-13 home openers this weekend. On Friday, Greenville hosts South Carolina, Kalamazoo is home against Fort Wayne, Gwinnett entertains Ontario, Las Vegas hosts Stockton and Alaska is home to Utah. Saturday, the Orlando Solar Bears host their first ECHL game as the Florida Everblades visit Amway Center.


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