When you follow the last place and the lowest scoring team in the league, a few things are to be expected. Not surprisingly, the Carolina Hurricanes are experiencing a downturn in gate receipts as well as ticket sales compared from last year, through the same time period this season.
After Monday night's game against Tampa Bay, the Hurricanes had played a total of 25 home games this season. Official attendance for those games totaled 369,248, which is an average of 14,770 per game, putting them at 25th in the league.
Through the first 25 games last season, the team registered an official total attendance of 385,844, which is a per game average of 15,434. The total difference is 16,596, seemingly just a meager 4.3% decrease from one period to the next. But if you attach a dollar figure to those lower numbers, the 4.3% becomes significant.
Assuming a nice, easy, round number of $100 average per person, (ticket, parking, food, etc), that makes a total gate related revenue loss of $1,659,600 from last season to this season, year to date.
While that is a significant number, the results over the next 16 games are what could really sour the mood over at Edwards Mill Road.
Last year, the Canes went on a winning streak during the last couple months of the season and fans responded in kind. The team had four sellout crowds in February, one in March, and three more in April.
Carolina has not sold out a single game this season since the home opener.
During the final 16 games last season, the team's total official attendance was 293,644, for a per game average of 18,353. If the Canes continue with their per game average this season, they will total 236,620, (14,770 average) which is a whopping 19.5% decrease over the same time period last year.
Using the same $100 average per person, the additional lost revenue would be $5,732,400 for the next 16 games, for a total of over $7.3 million of lost gate related revenue from last year to this year. And that does not include the playoffs.
The organization has reportedly laid off a couple of sales people, but has not made any public statement about present or future reductions in staff, yet.
Management must figure out a way to energize the fanbase and get them excited about watching hockey again. Too many seem to be reminded of the 2002-03 season, which was eerily similar to the present one.
The re-hiring of Paul Maurice served it's purpose last season as the team made a valiant run through the postseason, but his return certainly has not excited anyone this year. And while one can not put all the blame of this season's failures on his shoulders, some fans wonder if the coach with the most wins in franchise history, as well as the most losses, will be able to get a younger team to score more goals and play exciting hockey next year.
Will the crowds get any bigger at the RBC during the upcoming "rebuild"?
(attendance numbers taken from the Hurricanes Hockey Report published by The Whaler)