Monday, January 5, 2009

Atlanta as a hockey marketplace

Lest anyone think that there's something wrong with the Atlanta marketplace for hockey, a few observations.

1. I recently went to a late afternoon open skate at the Cooler in Alpharetta that was so crowded I left early.
2. My rec hockey league is filled to capacity, despite the economic crisis, and many people were left out when registration closed.
3. The Gwinnett Gladiators are fourth in attendance in the ECHL with 5,281 per game. This may be down from last year, but it's in line with the economy.

There's a good market here for hockey. Atlanta is being affected at about the same rate as the national average, and hockey is continuing on the same despite the downturn. With 5 million people, a large chunk of whom are transplants from the north (present company included), it doesn't even need to be a conversion project.


toph2o said...

When the Thrashers have put a good product on the ice, I've gone to games. Until they do so again, I see no need to waste my money on extremely overpriced tickets.

Jay said...

Atlanta is a great hockey market. One playoff season in ten years wouldn't play out too well in Canada, either. The fans are there, they're just disgusted with continually piss poor management.

Thomas said...

I took my kids to the Duluth Ice Forum this weekend and it was crazy packed. Never seen it like that before. I also play rec hockey and our league registration fills up very quickly. I am amazed at how busy the rinks I go to seem to be.

This city is a great hockey market for sure. Folks in Atlanta just want to see a winning team. Call us fair weather fans if you want, but we southerners don't want to settle for mediocrity. It may work in Toronto but it ain't gonna fly here. Soon the ASG will realize that as well and I don't think the NHL is going to let the Thrashers leave Atlanta. Why would you abandon the strongest market in the south?

johnny sideburns said...

Meh. Like the AJC Olympic headline once said, "It's Atlanta".

We didn't invent the chicken sandwich (that was Chick Fil-A), but we DID invent the fair weather fan. If you're going to charge major league prices, you'd better have a winning product on the other side of that turnstile.

No one here is immune...not the Thrashers, not the Falcons, not even the Braves, infamous throughout all of MLB for failing to sell out division-round playoff games near the end of their 14-year run of consecutive postseason appearances.

You mentioned the Gladiators in this post (for whom I am a proud season ticket holder)...I believe if you go back to the 1990's and check the attendance figures for the old IHL Atlanta Knights you will find that they were consistently among the league leaders in attendance, as well.

So it's not as though this area isn't a viable hockey market...we're just too smart (most of us) to throw good money after bad. And this year's Gwinnett team is a great example of that; they're a fifth-place team right now (who just lost their best player to an AHL call-up), but at least they're affordable.