Over and over again when I look at the ESPN.com game recaps for Florida Panther home games, the only games that are full are games against the teams from Philly, New York, Boston, Montreal and Toronto. Other then that, there are so many times that the attendance of percentage filled is about 70-80%. Recently I was listening to a radio station, I don’t quite remember which station it was but what the host said really struck me. “South Florida fans only go to games if the teams are winning, we don’t have many die hard fans that go no matter what“. Even if this is true, I constantly see opposing fans surrounding me around my seats. So my question is, where are all the fans at?
This is something that Dale Tallon knew would be a problem. In Chicago, the fans were kind of the same way. They have two baseball organizations (Cubs and White Soxs), we have the Miami Marlins. A very good basketball franchise (Bulls), we have the Miami Heat. And a underachieving hockey team that over the last decade has failed to make the playoffs. People were not going as much as Dale would like in Chicago, but once moves were made, and the team became successful again and started winning, people got excited. Chicago was ranked from 2002-2008 in the bottom of the NHL, and when I say bottom I mean bottom of the average home attendance, as low as 29th, and as high as 24th in the league. The reported attendance would usually be around 60% a night! Then in 2008-2009 season Dale Tallons plan worked 360 degrees. During that season, the Blackhawks were ranked #1 in the NHL with averaging 111.3% attendance. That’s incredible! Since then, the Blackhawks have ranked #1 every season. Will that happen here in S.Florida? Possibly. Will it take time? Of course. But the Panthers are ahead of schedule as far as the “blueprint” goes, and the fans have to be excited for this team.
It’s March 24th, and it’s still an issue. There are three more home games left and hopefully many home playoff games to follow. Fans, we have to get excited and let this area know that there is a team down here other than the Miami Heat that have the capability to make a solid postseason run. Baseball season has not started, and besides who wants to drive all the way to Coral Gables to find yourself without a parking space? Not me. I’d rather watch the division leading Florida Panthers every time, and you should too.
If people have not noticed, the Florida Panthers have been in 1st place in the Southeast Division for 112 days, most by any other division leader in any other division in the NHL. I think it is a really big problem that fans are still not showing up and supporting the team. What more can the front office possibly do? Tickets on Stubhub are going for around 2$ for uppers and as long as 20$ for lower bowl seats. Ticketmasters ticket prices are also not very high if you compare them to other NHL franchises ticket prices. Lets use the Washington Capitals as an example. The Washington Capitals are selling out every home game with a percentage of 101.3! Thats over capacity, while the Florida Panthers are averaging 86.1% attendance, a lot of the times with the opposing fans butts in our seats. Lets take a deeper look. I understand that the Capitals have been one of the NHL’s top teams over the last 5 years so the fans have gotten used to winning, but this season the Capitals are definitely underachieving, but the fans are still coming. The Florida Panthers have been in first place once again for 112 days! Thats 112 times we’ve woken up this season with the Cats in first place, but we are still not filling up the arena.
I sit in section 118 every game so I have a pretty good view of the entire stadium and how the fans pan out. The seats behind me usually only have about 5 or 6 regular families attending every game, other then that its fair game for everyone. I would say about 50% of the people behind me whether it be male, female, young or old is here to watch the opposing team. It’s really depressing when the other team scores and you see more people for the opposing team stand up for joy, while my head is between my legs.
Last night we faced the Edmonton Oilers, a team in the dumpsters and a team on the West Coast who usually don’t bring in a big fan base. But still, they were noticed. The people next to me were from Canada and they told me they travelled all the way down here from Montreal just to see this game. Really? Your going to travel all the way from Canada to see this team play here in S.Fla? Yet people all over Broward have “better things to do”. No, come out to the game and support a good team that plays hard every game. The most exciting sport to watch has to be hockey, so a good team + hockey = a GREAT time. So you know what to do.
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