FanPost

A Look at the Albany Devils Attendance

I've wanted to write this up for awhile now, but a long playoffs, the draft and the start of free agency have pushed this back. I liked Matthew's post about the Devils Attendance in the middle of the season so I thought I would take a stab at something similar for the Albany Devils.

First I wanted to compare the attendance for Albany market to the Devils affiliate. The Devils affiliation with Albany the first time was when the team was named the River Rats and the final season of that agreement was in 05-06. Then the Devils moved to Lowell and Albany matched up with Carolina for four seasons from 06-07 to 09-10. Then in 10-11 Albany and the Devils came together again for the next five years. (The reason why the numbers do not exactly match up in 10-11 was because I didn't include the games played in Atlantic City) All figures are from the official AHL website. One final note, starting with in the 11-12 season the AHL plays 76 games instead of 80, extended the playing calendar by one week and eliminated all four-games-in-five-nights sequences .

3283041_orig_medium

05-06

06-07

07-08

08-09

09-10

10-11

11-12

Albany

4025

3966

3940

3539

3751

3048

3435

Devils

4025

2801

2102

2293

2498

3114

3435

Clearly the Lowell years were not good. Whether the blame goes to Lowell, the Devils or both it doesn't really matter at this point. It didn't work. Compared to Lowell, attendance is doing better for the Devils. Given the better attendance numbers and close proximity for call ups I would like to think the Devils are happy with Albany compared to Lowell. For Albany there was a clear drop in the 10-11 when the Devils came back, but rebounded a little last year and I am hopeful they can continue the trend upward.

Next I took a look at the monthly attendance average. Monthly attendance averages should be taken with a grain of salt because during some months like February there have only been three games for each season compared to nine in January during the 2010-2011 season.

7092530_orig_medium

Oct

Nov

Dec

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

2010-2011

2816

2601

2465

2585

5365

2858

4676

2011-2012

2554

2757

3144

5001

4588

3671

3495

One thing to notice is that in 10-11 five out of seven months had monthly averages below 3,000. Compared to 11-12 which only saw the first two months. Another thing that caught my eye was the low early month totals, but that shouldn't really come as a shock considering what Matt had written in his post. The same appears to hold true for AHL hockey in Albany.

"The first few months on the NHL season have a lot of competition in terms of what's on and going to a game. The NFL is in full swing, the MLB postseason takes over October, and college football has 120 teams to cover. Since the NHL schedule is long - it's known that the sport's hype and marketing increases once football is over. More games are on national broadcasts and the intensity of the game increases as the playoffs near. The beginning of the season is where most teams see their lowest attendance numbers (the Devils included)."

Finally I wanted to see the breakdown by days of the week. I broke it down by weekday games of Monday through Thursday and then the big three of Friday, Saturday, Sunday.

404535_orig_medium

Mon-Thurs

Fri

Sat

Sun

2010-2011

1899

3199

3606

3653

2011-2012

2315

3248

4901

2590

I was happy to see that improvements are being made on the weekday front. Still not great by any means, but improvement nonetheless. Fridays stayed about the same the first two years the Devils were in Albany. The biggest improvement was clearly Saturday nights. I like to think the Devils wisely picked some dates after the New Year and promoted them hard. The big spike was basically caused by four Saturdays from 1/14 to 3/3 with heavy promotions and two were vs. Northway rival Adiondack. January 14th was GE Kids in Free night vs. Syracuse for 6,319. January 28th was Family Four pack vs. Adirondack for 8,194. February 18th as $5 and $10 tickets vs. Wilkes-Barre/ Scranton for 8,114. Then March 3rd was $15 wear pink for cancer vs. Adirondack for 6,121. The most encouraging thing is knowing the Albany market can do this, now the Devils need to find how to do it consistently. There could be a few reasons for the Sunday drop. In 10-11 there were only five Sunday games and one was a 5,944 game vs. Adirondack the Sunday before Presidents day when many schools and state workers might have had off. In 11-12 there eight and two were early seasons bombs of 1,304 on October 9th and 1,345 a week later on October 16th that drove down the average.

Ticket prices and on-ice talent play maybe the biggest roles in driving attendance, but promotions clearly play a role. In addition to what is working for the Devils here are some of the ideas I would be interested in seeing. Some are more realistic than others but have still been bouncing around my head for a while.

Retro River Rats Night: The River Rats name was in the Albany area for 17 seasons and some Albany hockey fans were bitter the name got changed. I understand the Devils want to spread their brand, but I think it would be a great promotion for one night to bring back the jerseys against at team like Providence or Rochester whose jerseys have basically been unchanged since those good late 90s teams. Tickets could be discounted if you wear River Rats gear from the Devils years like the $15 wear pink promotion from this past season.

St. Patrick's Day: Another jersey idea I know, but there have been some crazy jersey promotions in the minors and other teams are taking advantage. With the NJ Devils bringing back the green for one day I say keep the new tradition in the family and bring it to Albany. Take a NJ Devils Retro style jersey and put the Albany logo on the front

Capital District Islanders: This jersey idea might be tough because it would involve the visiting Bridgeport SoundTigers doing the Devils a favor. The AHL Capital District Islanders called the RPI field house home and played their last season in 1992-1993. Celebrate the 20 years by having the SoundTigers wear the old jerseys. It would involve the difficult task of writing "Capital District" above a regular Islanders jersey. The promotion might get some old-timers to come to a Devils game, be unique and for the Islanders they could auction off the 20 jerseys to make it worth their while. I have two friends who would be more than willing to pay for such a rare jersey.

Utica Devils: The Utica Devils also played their final season in 92-93 and this might be a fun promotion for the city to have the Devils back for a night. Partner with Saranac, which if you have ever run the Boilermaker they know how to put on an event, and you could have a unique opportunity. Central NY has produced some NHLers and the Devils own Steve Zalewski is from there. Take an early season Sunday game vs. Syracuse that might drag down the overall average and give it to Utica. Will the 1,300 Sunday Albany fans really miss it that much? Bringing out the old Utica jersey would be a nice touch also.

Devils Army Road Trip: During the NHL All-Star weekend or when the NJ Devils are on a Western Road Trip and not playing the Devils could coordinate a bus trip to Albany for a Saturday afternoon game. Or if the NHL season doesn't start on time hockey starved NJ fans might want to go to Albany to see Henrique, Josefson and Larsson in the lineup. Some other young players who played in the AHL the last time there was a lockout: Spezza, Stall and Fleury. It would be great to have hundreds of Devils fans come to Albany to support the prospects. Devils Army Invades Albany, it writes itself.

I Love NY Pack: NY is a unique place for hockey, we have three NHL teams, five AHL teams, have produced several NHLers and the site of arguably one of the best moments sports in Lake Placid. Celebrate it. Partner with the newly energized I Love NY campaign to discount games vs. other NY teams. Promote tourism by having Albany and other NY teams fans use the I Love NY pack discount at other NY arenas. When I travel Glens Falls I am going to eat dinner before the game and put money into the local economy. Give away a shirt or bumper sticker with the pack and promote Empire State hockey.

Picture

The Albany Devils are already getting ready and have recently announced their Opening Night Bundle Promotion. For $39 you can get a ticket to opening night Saturday October 13th, another ticket for Friday November 2nd and your choice of one from the following dates: 11/10, 12/28, 1/12 or 1/26. You also get an Albany Devils hat. Three Tickets for $39, not bad.

What are your thoughts about the Albany Devils attendance? Have you ever been to an Albany game? How can attendance be improved? Have any promotions that you would like to see? You can also tell the Albany Devils themselves about any ideas you might have.

All FanPosts and FanShots are the respective work of the author and not representative of the writers or other users of In Lou We Trust.

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