Houston Aeros 1994-2013: Thank you for all the great memories and two decades of great hockey and entertainment.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

There is no attendance problem

One of our most faithful readers, ICEVET, made a comment to my "View from the Press box" post from yesterday. I made the point that the Aeros need to play better at home in order to be one of the elite teams in the Western Conference and the AHL.

Here is what ICEVET said:

"The average attendance run rate during the 2011-12 regular season was nearly 7300, buoyed by the agressive management of David Burke.

Through 5 games, average attendance run rate (5700+) is down 20%....and this includes 8,132
on opening night.

Hopefully, attendance levels will rise to support this very talented team."

ICEVET is right, the attendance, when compared to last season's average is down. And when you compare the first five games this season to those from a year ago, the average gate is down to 5,743 from 6,554. When compared to the rest of the AHL, the Aeros currently sit 13th in the 30-league team. 

Both of those stats immediately struck me as disappointing because of the progress the team has made at the game during the Tom Garrity, Jamie Spencer and David Burke Aeros President eras. But I did a quick five-year comparison, and the results show that the Aeros do not have an attendance problem this season. 

Typically, because of High School football and many other factors, the Aeros attendance does not pick up until late December or so. The Aeros also play many more Sunday games, and have fewer Saturday nights at their disposal because they share the Toyota Center with the Rockets, concerts and other events. 

Their attendance through the first five games last year was more than 6,500 and that was their best rate in the last five years - by a lot. And what happened the year before? The Aeros made an incredible run at the Calder Cup buoyed by one of the best group of players in franchise history. 

In other words, there was a high coming off the previous year, and even during the typical "low season" the Aeros had great numbers at the rink. 

Here is a look at the Aeros first five game attendance average over the last five years. 

2012 - 5,734
2011 - 6,554
2010 - 5,185
2009 - 5,662
2008 - 4,562
Five-year average - 5,539

So what does this mean? It means that the first five games of this season has been spot on with their average over the last five seasons. 

And this does not even get into when these first five games were played. How many of these games were played on weeknights? How many of these games were Fridays and Saturdays? How many of these games came in a four or five night span (when the home team plays three or four games in a week, attendance suffers.)

The bottom line is last year was the anomaly, not this season. David Burke did an amazing job, overall, during his run at team president. He followed a general ticket-selling formula (kids, families, kids, families, groups, kids, families) that has been employed since Tom Garrity took over, and he raised the bar with fan interaction, social media and little things like instant replays and goal horns. 

The Aeros are not out of the woods yet. There is no lease in place for next season and beyond, so it will be interesting to see how that affects attendance when we get into early December and preparations will have to be made for the following season. Let's just say that front-office morale will be affected either way. 

Also, from March 14 to April 13, they are going to have to play 12 games in less than a month, and that, too will certainly affect how many fans will buy tickets. 

All that aside, the Aeros are doing just fine so far both on and off ice the ice. 


Forecheck said...

Last season undoubtedly saw a bump from the team making the finals the previous spring.

ICEVET said...

Many thanks for the historical review and perspective.

artandhockey said...

Fans need to bring new bodies to the games. I truly believe IF/when a person sees a couple games, sees the speed, the excitement, the gritty determination of MOST players (and the youthful presence, LoL) they will become addicted to this sport of speed, drama, and grace, yes, grace!