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Texas Stars have better attendance than Hamilton Bulldogs

May 23, 2010, 4:15 PM EDT

Last season, the Dallas Stars operated without an AHL affiliate while
waiting a year for their new, local affiliate to get up and running.
The Texas Stars, based out of Austin, kicked off their inaugural season
in September, 2009 and instantly became a hit with the locals.

that? Yes, you read that right; AHL hockey was a success in Austin,

It’s not exactly your traditional hockey crowd (there’s
just as many Texas Longhorns hats as there are Stars hats) but the fans
that do come to the game are enthusiastic, loud and knowledgeable about
the game of hockey.

One reason the team has been so successful in
just their first season has been their success on the ice; the Stars
have been at or near the top of their division all season long. Yet the
Stars also had an extremely high number of preseason ticket sales.
showing that the sport of hockey is viable in such a ‘non-traditional’
locale as Austin, Texas.

With the Stars facing the Hamilton
Bulldogs this past week in the AHL conference finals, we’ve also been
shown that perhaps all the talk about Canada needing another hockey team
is perhaps a bit premature.

With Jim Balsillie hoping to buy the
Phoenix Coyotes and move them to Hamilton, Ontario last summer, the
internet erupted in arguments on how a town like Hamilton ‘deserved’ a
NHL team more than Phoenix and would certainly be a better financial
option. Despite another NHL team being in the area, we were assured that
fans in the area would flock to see an NHL team.

Yet why is it
that a hockey team in Austin, Texas is turning out more fans per game
than one in Hamilton? From Defending Big D:

Though eight home playoff games each, Stars fans have filled the
Cedar Park Center with an average attendance of 4,873 people per game –
that number of course really helped by this past weekend’s attendance at
all three games: 4,535 for game three on Wednesday and then 6,215 for
Friday night’s game four and 5,020 for last night’s game five.

Compare that to the city of Hamilton – or as Jim Basille calls it:
“Southern Ontario” – where in eight playoff games the Bulldogs have only
averaged 3,142 fans.  Games one and two at Copps Coliseum drew 2,977
and 2,897 fans respectively.

On average, the Stars also outdrew the Bulldogs for regular season
games as well.

Hey, maybe hockey fans in the area just aren’t that big on the
Bulldogs and are just biding their time until a NHL team shows up. Then
the fans will show up in droves, providing the economic support for a
team that couldn’t cut it in the ‘south’.

Of course, this argument is a bit moot since their won’t be an NHL
team in Hamilton anytime soon. It’s just an interesting study of hockey
fans in an area that claimed they ‘deserved’ a hockey team more than
another town. This isn’t even an argument about hockey in the south versus Canada. I don’t discourage anybody from having a hockey team. This just goes to show that hockey can be successful anywhere, even in Austin, Texas.

  1. Zach - May 23, 2010 at 5:48 PM

    I think the Make It Seven campaign killed any momentum that the Bulldogs had. Why they aren’t coming out for the playoffs isn’t understood.

  2. Anthony - May 23, 2010 at 6:08 PM

    It would be great if sports journalists used facts, and not goofy statistics, making a story where there is none. Hamilton already had all the seasons tickets sold before they were potentially to get a franchise. The Bulldogs attendance tends to be up and down, and having a Montreal farm team an hour down the road from Toronto is not always the biggest draw. I live an hour from Hamilton, and know there will never be a team in Hamilton, because it will kill Buffalo. Nothing to do with being able to support a team. Simply that too many Canadians from the Hamilton area make the trek to Buffalo to watch games. With Buffalo’s population dropping, there would be no reason for a team there. There will be a second team in Toronto long before they ever allow a team in Hamilton. Unfortunate, true, and something Bettman will never admit.
    Simply in Canada Hockey is a passion, in the US it is a regional thing. I travel for a living to the US, and once a team is out of the playoffs in the local area, it is next to impossible to find a game on TV. Here in Canada, totally different story, all games can always be found on one network or another, and they are all on every Cable Network.

  3. Sea Toby - May 24, 2010 at 11:24 PM

    Sorry, all of the Dallas Stars games are shown on television as well, either with a local UHF broadcaster or on a cable/satellite television sports network…
    While its true major league teams outdraw minor league teams, selling season tickets options isn’t the same as actually selling season tickets… The bush is always full until cash has to be forked over…

  4. Bill - May 26, 2010 at 9:42 PM

    Anthony I guess you never heard of Versas TV. They have better selection all year not stuck with last place teams playing. They show top teams playing each other.

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