It was a sparse crowd to say the least at Philips Arena Thursday as the Thrashers returned home and were shut out by Columbus. The announced attendance was 8,461 – a franchise record low. I’m not sure there were that many people in the building.
The record low came just 15 days after the Thrashers broke the record for low attendance – when 8,820 showed up for the Oct. 20 game against Buffalo.
The Thrashers (6-5-2) had recorded eight points in their past five games before the loss. They fell to 2-3 at home this season.
“Definitely,” Zach Bogosian said when asked if it was difficult to play in a half-empty building. “It’s never good feeling when you come out and you are all pumped up and there’s not that many people in the stands. After playing here for three years, you kind of get used to it. The more fans would be a lot better but it’s not an excuse we can use.”
Here are the home attendance figures so far this season:
Oct. 8 vs. Washington – 15, 596
Oct. 20 vs. Buffalo – 8,820
Oct. 22 vs. Tampa Bay – 9,138
Oct. 29 vs. Buffalo – 10,172
Nov. 4 vs. Columbus – 8,461
That’s an average home attendance this season of 10, 437. Take away the season opener and it is 9,148.
I asked coach Craig Ramsay following the game if the atmosphere in the building was becoming an issue.
“You have to create your own atmosphere,” he said. “If you go on the road, somebody is yelling at you. It gives you a little edge sometimes. It’s up to us to create an atmosphere.”
The Thrashers appear early on to be a better than last season. They missed out on the playoffs by five points then so they figure to be in the hunt this year.
One thing I can tell you is not to make the leap between poor attendance and the franchise moving at this point. I chased down yet another rumor (this one by a guy who writes about hockey lifestyle) that the Thrashers were being sold. I can tell from from two sources that it is not true. Think about it folks, even as the team looks for investors, what person(s) would buy and/or invest in a team still in litigation? Until that is resolved nothing will happen.
So, what’s keeping folks away?
Let me know what you think.
I’m at practice and will update with two other blogs when it’s finished. I apologize for the lack of blogs yesterday, but I needed to sleep after getting back from Florida and then covering Thursday’s game.