PRINCETON, N.J. – Florida had a standing-room only crowd of 7,738 for its 5-3 win against Reading in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Friday and Idaho had a standing-room only crowd of 5,476 for its 3-1 win against Gwinnett in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals on Saturday. There were 5,217 at Reading on Sunday watching the Royals’ 6-0 win against Florida in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, giving the ECHL a total of 18,431 for three games, an average of 6,144.
Florida leads the best-of-five Eastern Conference Finals with Game 4 to be played at 7:05 p.m. ET on Wednesday at Reading. Idaho leads the best-of-five Western Conference Finals with Game 4 to be played at 7:05 p.m. MT on Wednesday at Idaho. If necessary, Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals would be played at Gwinnett on Sunday, May 9 at 4:05 p.m. ET while Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals would be played at Florida on Monday, May 10 at 7:30 p.m. ET.
The three-day attendance surge last weekend raised the total attendance for the 2004 Kelly Cup Playoffs to 185,438 which surpasses the total postseason attendance for each of the past two years. The average attendance of 3,253 is over 47 percent higher than last season and exceeds the average attendance of 2002 by more than 17 percent and the average attendance of 2001 by over eight percent. The average attendance is 30 percent higher than the average combined attendance for the ECHL, through the Conference Finals, and the West Coast Hockey League in 2003.
The 7,738 in Florida was the second-largest crowd in the past five years of the Kelly Cup Playoffs and the largest crowd in the six-year history of TECO Arena. The largest crowd in the past five years is 8,834 for Game 5 of the Kelly Cup Finals at South Carolina on May 27, 2001. The 5,476 in Idaho was the largest crowd in the seven-year history of the Bank of America Centre and the 19th-largest crowd in the past five years of the Kelly Cup Playoffs.
Florida and Idaho become the second and third teams, respectively, to have a sellout in the 2004 Kelly Cup Playoffs. Alaska sold out two of its three postseason games and drew 17,305 for a league-leading average of 5,768. The Aces became the first ECHL team to have two sellouts in the postseason since 2000 when Florida sold out its two first-round games with Augusta on April 8 (7,181) and 19 (7,181).
Friday marked the ninth sellout of the season for Florida which had previously eclipsed its team record for attendance on January 17 (7,386) and 31 (7,581). Florida leads in total attendance for the postseason with 33,890 while ranking second in average attendance with 5,648 per game. In its sixth season in the league, Florida has led in average postseason attendance in each of the past five seasons and the Everblades have 10 of the Top 25 postseason crowds since 2000. In the regular season, Florida led the ECHL in total attendance with 223,732 and average attendance with 6,214, the fourth consecutive year that the Everblades have led the league in both total attendance and average attendance.
The record crowd on Saturday was the league-leading 11th sellout of the season for Idaho which had previously eclipsed its team record for attendance on November 28 (5,304) and February 28 (5,431). The Steelheads are fourth in both total attendance (20,140) and average attendance (4,028).
The ECHL has drawn 29,345 for the first six games of the Conference Finals and has already surpassed the total attendance for the Conference Finals in each of the past two years. The average of 4,891 is 155 percent ahead of last season’s Conference Finals and exceeds the average attendance for each of the past five Conference Finals.
Making its first Kelly Cup Playoffs appearance, Reading ranks second in total attendance for the postseason with 23,051 while ranking third in average attendance with 4,610 per game. Reading has ranked second in both total and average attendance in the regular season each of its three seasons, including 2003-04 when the Royals drew 193,367 for an average of 5,371 per game.
Gwinnett ranks third in total postseason attendance with 20,161 and ranks sixth in average postseason attendance with 3,360.