If you build it…will they actually come?

If you build it…will they actually come?

I am a hockey fan. Hell, all of us here at Buried Puck Threads are hockey fans. If we weren’t, then why even do what we do? Now granted, some of us are actual “fanatics” while others are casual fans (I’m looking at you Anya). But we all love the game at some level. Me personally…I eat, sleep, talk, read, wear, etc. all things hockey. In addition to trying to sell great hockey apparel for hockey fans, I also write articles about hockey. I make videos about hockey. I read books about hockey. I collect hockey “stuff” (yes, even hockey cards).

I also realize and accept that not everyone loves the game as much as I do. But I am seeing an alarming trend. Where are the fans going? They sure aren’t coming to games like they used to.

Here are just a couple numbers to ponder. The WHL (Western Hockey League) attendance numbers over the last 10 seasons are down…pretty much across the board. During the 2007-08 season, the league average for attendance was approximately 4,713 fans per game. In 2016-17 it was 4,474 fans per night. That’s 239 less people per game on average. The area where Buried Puck Threads is based (Tri-Cities, WA) is home to the Tri-City Americans of the WHL. Tri-City is part of the 5-team U.S. Division. Looking at attendance within that division gets even more grim.

  • Average attendance for the Tri-City Americans is down approximately 500 fans per night over the last 10 seasons…and approximately 1,000 fans per night over the past 7 seasons after a spike in attendance during the 2010-11 season.
  • The Spokane Chiefs are down 1,500 per night over the last 10 seasons.
  • The Everett Silvertips are down 1,600 over the last 10 and
  • the Portland Winterhawks are down 1,300 over the past 4 seasons.

The only team that is up is the Seattle Thunderbirds who are averaging 700 more fans per night than they were 10 seasons ago. What are they doing differently?

When I was growing up, going to live sporting events was the best. Once I went to my first Hampton Roads Admirals (now the Norfolk Admirals) I was hook, line, and sinker a hockey fan. There was nothing like that feeling of thousands of people jumping up and celebrating the home team scoring a goal. It was electric. I lived for that feeling. I have been fortunate enough to go to a couple of Philadelphia Flyers games at the Wells Fargo Center in Philly.

*Disclaimer* Buried Puck Threads is a team neutral organization…but I am personally a diehard Flyers fan. If you can’t handle that…sorry, not sorry, haha.

That electric feeling is just multiplied when you are around 20,000 fans. But it is still the same feeling nonetheless. Here’s the thing though…we live in an “instant” society. Technology means we don’t have to wait for “feelings” anymore. I think maybe that has numbed us to the process of waiting for and anticipating that electric feeling we get when the home team scores.

It’s more than that though.

Being in that environment was our “Social Media” long before Facebook and Twitter were ever conceived. Drinking a beer and eating a hot dog and laughing and crying and cursing and screaming with your buddies was way more of a rush than “likes” and “retweets.” If you consider yourself to be a hockey fan at all, I encourage you to share that “feeling” with others…you know, that rush of the home team scoring. Grow your “social network” where it matters…in real life. The more people that catch the fever, the better it will be for all of us and our teams.

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