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  1. #1
    Patrick Guest

    Default Blazers record attendance

    Not only is Blazers attendance up this season, but they set the record for CHL attendance ever at the last regular season game, almost selling out the Ford Center. Not bad for a minor league hockey team. Are you guys sure NHL and NBA can't co-exist in this city? We have the facility for both. I will say I don't like the anti-Hornets comments in here. Just shows that the folks supporting the Hornets aren't necessarily the same as those supporting hockey. The Blazers seem to have their own following.


    "Blazers crowds growing despite arrival of Hornets

    By Bob Hersom
    The Oklahoman

    John Fuechsel is a typical Blazers fan when it comes to Oklahoma City's NBA team. He can take 'em. Or he can leave 'em.


    "I've been to two Hornets games," Fueschel said, shrugging and shaking his head. "It was vaudeville. It was a big show. I like hockey, because it's not all about million dollar stars and 'Oh, look at me, I'm LeBron James or something.'"

    Fueschel, a Blazers season ticket holder for six years, has been pleasantly surprised by the NBA Hornets' lack of impact on his favorite Central Hockey League team.

    "The (Blazers) crowds have been better than I expected," Fueschel said. "We hadn't been to the playoffs the last two years, and then when the Hornets came, I was a little more leery.

    "But I'm impressed. The Hornets haven't hurt, I don't feel, our attendance at all. It's no competition. Hockey fans are hockey fans, and basketball fans are different."
    The fans and the facts indicate that the Hornets have had, if anything, a positive impact on the Blazers this season.

    In the Blazers' first year competing for fan interest against a major league team, the CHL club has actually had better attendance than last year. Average attendance is 8,609, up from last year's average of 8,245.

    The Blazers' final regular season home game attracted a crowd of 17,826, the largest in CHL history and nearly reaching the Ford Center's hockey capacity of 18,036. The crowd also ranks as the biggest in North American minor league hockey this season.
    Four times in the past 11 years, and three times in the past four years, the Blazers have led all minor league hockey teams in North America in attendance.

    This year, the Blazers are second to Manchester, N.H., whose American Hockey League Monarchs are the Triple-A affiliate of the NHL's Los Angeles Kings. Manchester leads the Blazers by 68 fans per game and has four home games remaining -- two on Wednesdays, two on weekends.

    "We will finish first this season," predicted Express Sports CEO Brad Lund, one of the Blazers' founders in 1992.

    Nineteen cities have NBA and minor league hockey teams. The Blazers are No. 1 in attendance on that list, averaging nearly 1,000 more per game than next-best Chicago -- and more than Detroit, Orlando and Los Angeles combined.

    Whether the Blazers lead the continent in attendance again or not, it's clear that their fan base has remained strong, despite the huge attendance numbers produced by the Hornets.

    "I don't think the Hornets have had much effect on the Blazers," Blazers season ticket holder Glenda Cottier said. "Maybe on the corporate end, but as a fan, if anything, it's improved things."

    The Blazers also did better on the ice, making the Central Hockey League playoffs for the first time in three years.

    "That's very important," Blazers fan Stacy Snorf said. "We're here to win, we've always been a winning team, and they haven't been in the playoffs the last couple of years. So this is nice because we get to see more games this way."

    Blazers season ticket holder Ida Newton seconded Snorf's notion.

    "Making the playoffs is very important because it's bringing the fans back, making them have faith again," Newton said. "I think some fans had lost a lot of their faith, but this will help."

    "Help!" might be one of Snorf's reactions to the NBA coming to Oklahoma City. She said the Hornets' arrival has had a negative impact on the downtown and Bricktown experience, especially when the Blazers and Hornets play on the same night.
    "Parking is a nightmare," Snorf said. "And there are increased prices all over downtown, which is price gouging, if you ask me."

    Most Blazers fans seem to like the idea of playing a few games -- but only a few -- in their old home, the Cox Center, and most games in the much newer Ford Center. The Blazers played seven of their 37 home games at the Cox Center this season.
    "The Cox Center is a better atmosphere," Blazers fan Josie Newton said. "It's fan friendly and fan oriented. The players can hear you, and you can hear the players. It's more one on one."

    Blazers season ticket holder Janis Hewitt, like most of the team's fans, still calls the Cox Center by its former name, the Myriad.

    "At the Myriad, the crowd was more into it than they've been at the Ford Center," Hewitt said. "So I think it would be good to keep playing six or seven games there."
    But no more than that, the fans seem to agree.

    "I liked playing some games at the Myriad," Cottier said, "because the very first hockey game I went to was there. It was nice to be able to go back home. And at the same time, it made us appreciate the Ford Center more."

    Fueschel echoed Cottier's sentiments, referring to the Myriad, er, Cox Center as sort of a second home.

    "It's a nice place to visit," Fueschel said, "but I don't want to move back. It's good to reminisce, but we're used to the sound system, the video board, all the amenities at the Ford Center."
    And they're already used to the Hornets sharing their space, too.

  2. Default Re: Blazers record attendance

    well sure they almost sold out the last game, they were giving away lotto tickets and 10 grand.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Blazers record attendance

    I love it when the Hornets and the Blazers play on the same night. It enhances the bricktown and downtown experience because there are so many more people there, making the overall energy much more electric. Parking may be a little tighter, but with the ample amount of parking we have downtown, it usually doesn't take but maybe 5 more minutes or so to find a spot, if that.

    Why don't they ever interview me for these things?

    Anyway, I think it's great that the Blazers have done so well with the Hornets being here. I honestly couldn't care less about the Blazers, but it's great that they weren't impacted by this. And I am sincere when I say I love it when both teams are playing on the same night. It's so cool that we can do that right across the street. Not many cities can.

  4. Default Re: Blazers record attendance

    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick
    Not only is Blazers attendance up this season, but they set the record for CHL attendance ever at the last regular season game, almost selling out the Ford Center. Not bad for a minor league hockey team. Are you guys sure NHL and NBA can't co-exist in this city? We have the facility for both....
    I think they could, but the way the NHL is right now, I just don't think they would make a proffit. Hardly anyone talks hockey anywhere in the media outside of a few minutes here or there. That's the issue with having both the NBA and NHL.

  5. #5
    Keith Guest

    Default Re: Blazers record attendance

    Quote Originally Posted by fromdust
    well sure they almost sold out the last game, they were giving away lotto tickets and 10 grand.
    I agree. Anytime you mention free lottery tickets, people (fans) come out of the woodwork. I'm glad it was almost a sell out crowd, but it wasn't because of the Blazers, it was the free lottery tickets.

  6. Default Re: Blazers record attendance

    Even if you factor that last game out of the average, they're still over 8200 per game, and still first in CHL attendance - as they almost always are.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Blazers record attendance

    Nonetheless, 8600 fans per game for 'minor league' hockey isn't a bad thing. It just shows the potential that Ice Hockey has in OKC.


    Sure, you'll have huge crowds when you do giveaways... but some of those people will actually come back if they like what they see. And hockey, being a fast-paced sport, has a tendency to win a few folks over... especially if the atmosphere at the games is comfortable, yet electric!

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