The largest crowd since 1998 in South Carolina, sellout crowds in Alaska, Charlotte and Reading and over 4,000 welcoming hockey back to Cincinnati were among the highlights as the ECHL welcomed 134,575 fans to its 27 games on opening weekend for an average of 4,984.
The Stingrays had 10,112 at North Charleston Coliseum for their home opener on Saturday while a standing-room-only crowd of 6,451 packed Sullivan Arena on Friday to watch the Aces raise the banners recognizing their Kelly Cup and Brabham Cup championships. Charlotte had 9,245 for its opener on Friday while Reading had 7,215 on Saturday. The ECHL had 40 sellouts in the regular season a year ago including a league-leading 10 by Charlotte, four by Alaska and three by Reading.
Gwinnett had 7,014 fans watch as the team raised its American Conference championship banner while perennial attendance leader Florida and Bakersfield each drew almost 13,000 for their first two games. Florida has never drawn less than 220,000 or averaged less than 6,200 per game in its first seven years while Bakersfield raised its attendance for the third consecutive year and reached 200,000 for the first time since joining as an expansion team in 2003-04.
The Victoria Salmon Kings begin their second season at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre on Wednesday when they host Idaho.
Columbia, Pensacola, Utah and Wheeling all play their home openers on Friday with the Inferno hosting Augusta, the Ice Pilots hosting Texas, the Grizzlies hosting Las Vegas and the Nailers hosting Johnstown.
After leading the ECHL in total attendance with 228,364 and average attendance with 6,343 per game in their first season in 2005-06, the Stockton Thunder will open their second season on Saturday when they host Long Beach.
After being unable to play last season as a result of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Texas Wildcatters will welcome fans back to Ford Arena on Saturday when they host Pensacola.
The league has raised its average attendance each of the last three seasons and in 2005-06 averaged 4,372 per game, the largest per-game average since 1999-2000, as 13 of the 22 returning teams increased their average attendance.