did not report the attendance, but officially the puck was dropped at 2:36pm on Monday. Yes, you read that correctly. 2:36 in the afternoon. 14:36 in military time.
That picture, taken by Fox Sports Florida's Erin Brown, is pretty overwhelming. I have never seen a preseason game where the players outnumber the fans. I'll grant the Panthers some slack in that they were playing two games on one day to allow more players to play and be evaluated, and I'll even allow them some slack in stating that the night game was attended by 6541 fans. But if no one shows up to a game on a Monday afternoon as seen in the photo above, why schedule it at all at your home rink? Why not find a smaller rink where the costs of running that rink would be far less?
Secondly, what is playing in that cavernous arena with no fans like? The 6-3 final score saw the goal horn used six times and there was someone piping music into the arena between whistles, but it has to be tough to get yourself motivated when you look out into the crowd and see no one. Literally, no one. The players were probably as overwhelmed with this crowd as the ticket takers were outside the arena. Can we get security to Gate One, please?
offered up season tickets for $7 per game. I can't get a beer in Winnipeg for $7 let alone a ticket to see the team play. What's that, you say? Not good enough? How about if they throw in a team jersey too? And then add in free parking to those games! Still not enough for $7 per game? How about free concerts as well? WOW! I feel like I work on infomercials with all the free stuff I'm including for this one incredibly-low price! But because we can't do this all day, keep in mind that I'm no Vince Offer.
Perhaps what should have the NHL worried, though, is how the sunbelt teams that struggled to attract fans last season are seemingly experiencing the same problem this season. Florida isn't the only subtropical US city to see fans stay away by the thousands. The Dallas Stars are playing host to those Florida Panthers tonight, and Jonathan Huberdeau tweeted out this photo as he sat in the crowd.
I'm not sure what the Panthers can do to attract more fans. They have dropped ticket prices to an astoundingly low price and killed any parking and merchandise revenue in the same breath. This franchise is bleeding red ink and can't seem to stop the hemorrhaging regardless of what it does. And for all the empty seats that the Dallas Stars had last season, it appears that trend is continuing despite new ownership, a pile of new players, and a new division to compete in for a playoff spot.
I guess the only saving grace is that it is the preseason, and no one gives a damn until October.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!