Knock Knock; Who’s There? 7,311 Panthers Fans.

In any sport, you look forward to playing at your home venue. Being the home team offers many advantage; comfortability, no jet lag, a crowd that gets behind you… or at least that’s what the expectation is. But on October 13th, 2014, the Florida Panthers didn’t enjoy much of a home ice advantage; in fact, they played in front of the smallest crowd in franchise history. Poor, poor Panthers.

The Florida Panthers organization is in trouble.

They’re basically broke, they’ve won just three playoff series’ since their inaugural NHL season in 1993-94. Not only did they set a franchise low in attendance, they also set the record for smallest attendance in a home opener this season. A year ago, they finished 29th out of 30 teams. It doesn’t help that the team they lost to Monday night was from Ottawa attracting many Canadian media outlets to the abysmal attendance the Panthers are producing.  

But what are the Panthers supposed to do? They’ve brought in new talent, the team is under new ownership… maybe it’s time we all accept the fact that Florida doesn’t have a huge hockey market and fan base; aside from Tampa Bay, there may not be room for another Florida team.

https://twitter.com/TravisSBN/status/521813864233848832


 

It’s hard to swallow for some, but it’s reality; the Panthers aren’t profitable and there are other cities where they could thrive. The average attendance for an NHL game is more than 17,000 fans, with almost half of the NHL teams averaging sellouts. Last season, the Florida Panthers ranked last in average percentage of arena filled at 75.5%. That’s not good enough.

 

Rank Team Arena Average ▼ % Capacity # Games Total
1 Chicago Blackhawks United Center 21,640 109.8% 42 908,859
2 Montréal Canadiens Centre Bell 21,273 100.0% 43 914,739
3 Detroit Red Wings Joe Louis Arena 20,066 100.0% 41 822,706
4 Philadelphia Flyers Wells Fargo Center 19,845 101.6% 42 833,507
5 Toronto Maple Leafs Air Canada Centre 19,447 103.4% 41 797,310
6 Calgary Flames Scotiabank Saddledome 19,302 100.1% 41 791,389
7 Vancouver Canucks Rogers Arena 18,910 100.0% 40 756,400
8 Tampa Bay Lightning Tampa Bay Times Forum 18,626 97.0% 42 782,300
9 Pittsburgh Penguins CONSOL Energy Center 18,619 101.3% 43 800,609
10 Buffalo Sabres First Niagara Center 18,576 97.4% 40 743,048
11 Minnesota Wild Xcel Energy Center 18,523 102.5% 42 777,950
12 Washington Capitals Verizon Center 18,506 100.0% 41 758,746
13 Los Angeles Kings Staples Center 18,147 100.2% 41 744,025
14 Ottawa Senators Canadian Tire Centre 18,109 94.5% 41 742,468
15 New York Rangers Madison Square Garden 18,006 104.7% 43 774,258
16 St. Louis Blues Scottrade Center 17,593 91.9% 43 756,495
17 Boston Bruins TD Garden 17,565 100.0% 43 755,295
18 San Jose Sharks SAP Center at San Jose 17,562 100.0% 43 755,166
19 Edmonton Oilers Rexall Place 16,839 100.0% 41 690,399
20 Nashville Predators Bridgestone Arena 16,600 97.0% 41 680,619
21 Anaheim Ducks Honda Center 16,511 96.1% 43 709,968
22 Colorado Avalanche Pepsi Center 16,386 91.0% 43 704,609
23 Dallas Stars American Airlines Center 15,590 84.1% 43 670,355
24 Carolina Hurricanes PNC Arena 15,484 82.9% 41 634,832
25 New Jersey Devils Prudential Center 15,012 85.2% 40 600,480
26 Winnipeg Jets MTS Centre 15,004 100.0% 41 615,164
27 Columbus Blue Jackets Nationwide Arena 14,901 82.1% 43 640,737
28 Florida Panthers BB&T Center 14,525 75.5% 41 595,527
29 New York Islanders Nassau Coliseum 13,858 85.7% 40 554,335
30 Phoenix Coyotes Jobing.com Arena 13,776 80.4% 41 564,798

 

It’s a tough way to start a season. In two homes games, they’ve set two franchise records for lowest attendance’s. How can we expect it to get any better? How can we take the seriously the owners statements that indicate a winning season and a Stanley Cup run? I’m sorry, but a Stanley Cup run doesn’t happen when you can’t fill your arena. There are plenty of cities that would fill an arena, and after a bad, embarrassing start for the Florida Panthers, something has got to change. This isn’t just a bad night for Panther fans, it’s a sad night for hockey fans.

 

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