Blogs > Red Wings Corner

Up-to-the minute updates and insights from the Red Wings locker room at home and on the road. By Chuck Pleiness of The Macomb Daily.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Empty seats hard not to notice

DETROIT -- The players do notice. In fact, they talked about it in training camp, expecting as much.
When the Detroit Red Wings take the ice like they did for for three games this week, the swatches of empty seats in the Joe Louis Arena stands leave an impression on the players. All four home games this season have had 3-4,000 empty seats.
"I noticed it standing on the blue line (for the national anthem)," said Detroit's Dan Cleary. "Not much you can do. Try to give them a good, honest effort and try to win games. Hopefully, we'll get some more people out. We have great fans. Every year I've been here, they've been enthusiastic. … It's early. Things can change."
What has changed is the attendance of Red Wing games. By the end of the last regular season, Detroit had built a 452-game streak of sellouts. The most recent non-sellout was Dec. 10, 1996.
Then all nine of last year's home playoff games fell short of being sellouts. After last night, you can add three regular-season non-sellouts to make the Red Wings' current non-sellout streak 12 games.
Because of the playoffs last season, the players suspected that this season would open with more vacant seats as well.
"It's something we were aware of," said Dominik Hasek. "We were talking about it during training camp, so we expected that maybe some games wouldn't be sold out. All I can say is it's very disappointing. You like to play in front of 20-plus thousand people. It's a better feeling. Unfortunately, this is the way it is. Like I said, we have to do the best we can do on the ice and hope we can see at least on the weekends 20,000 people.
"When you see the season-opener not being sold out, it's a bad sign. Now that the baseball season is over, we can hope that some people can find a way to Joe Louis Arena. We can't expect on weeknights for the arena to be sold out, but I hope maybe on weekends."
The home-opener this season was against the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Anaheim Ducks … the same team that eliminated Detroit from the playoffs a year ago. If that game didn't sell out, mid-week contests against Calgary aren't likely to pack the Joe.
"The way I look at things, it doesn't matter what the conditions are around you, you make the best of things," said coach Mike Babcock. "Our job here as a team is to play hard, to win enough games so that the people want to come and support us. It doesn't matter whether you're in Canada or Southern California, the more games that you win, the more that people want to come. You've got to create a buzz by winning."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did anyone ever think that some can't afford season tickets or even a ticket for one game at NHL prices? Everything is up more price-wise, and a housing crisis. NHL teams should take notice, and look at how minor league teams are beating NHL teams in attendance records. Take for instance the Oklahoma City Blazers of the Central Hockey League. The Blazers have won 14 attendance records do to the promotions that their owner group does a great job.

October 13, 2007 at 8:08 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the economy is a factor, but lets not kid ourselves. JLA was 1/5 empty for most home games last year too. The only difference was those empty seats were paid for, and at the time i assumed(though have no proof), that those tickets(large blocks of empty lower bowl seats) were owned by corporations, and would not be renewed. That alone would account for a huge amount of the attendance issue.

That ties more to the economy than actual ticket prices imo. When your #1 industry is failing, they arent going to buy seats, especially not seats they cant even give away. Not to mention the overall lack of out of area businessmen to give the tickets too as perks.
Overall this is largely a result of the lockout. Its plain as day, since the lockout, interest in hockey has taken a nose dive. It took the wings their first cup in 42 years to start the sellout streak(starting in 97/98), and more cups in 98/02 to keep it going. Since the lockout the game has lost its appeal to many casual fans, and the wings have been living off corporate support. Without that support, PAID attendance has taken a huge hit. The schedule isnt helping any either.

October 15, 2007 at 12:47 PM 

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