Season openers in Columbia, Pensacola, Stockton, Texas, Utah and Wheeling and a crowd of 9,124 on Saturday in Gwinnett raised the total attendance for the ECHL to 262,703 which is an average of 4,529 per game, an increase of 5.7 percent from last season.
Las Vegas and Idaho will each play their home openers on Friday with the Wranglers hosting Victoria and the Steelheads hosting Utah. Dayton plays its first home game on Saturday against Florida, marking the first time that the Bombers have played their home opener in November and the only time that they have been the last ECHL team to open at home.
Stockton had 8,747 for its home opener as it looks to lead the league in attendance again after averaging 6,343 per game and drawing 228,364 in their first year, the highest totals since 2001-02 when Florida led the league with 238,296 and 6,619. Gwinnett is second with 8,069 per game followed by Charlotte with 7,215, Bakersfield with 6,235 and Florida with 5,854.
South Carolina became the first team in ECHL history to surpass three million fans when four-year-old Jordan Brown from Goose Creek, S.C. entered North Charleston Coliseum on Sunday. The crowd of 3,397 on Sunday increases the team’s season total to a league-leading 24,999 for five home games.
In their 14th season, the Stingrays have drawn 3,002,574 fans in the regular season, including leading the league in their first two seasons when they welcomed more than 600,000 fans and averaged 8,871 per game.
Florida will become the sixth team in ECHL history to welcome two million fans later this season, having drawn 23,416 for its first four home games to bring its all-time total to 1,893,482. In their first seven seasons, the Everblades have never drawn less than 220,000 or averaged fewer than 6,200 per game and led the ECHL in attendance for five straight years from 2000-05.
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.