AAA attendance figures

April 5, 2006

I responded to this below, but figured I’d pull it out for a topic.

It’s pretty easy to figure out in the AHL finances, or at least to be in the ballpark within a few hundred thousand dollars.

Manchester 0 310,389 36 8,622
W-B/Scranton 0 285,082 35 8,145
Manitoba 0 301,654 38 7,938
Chicago 0 278,018 36 7,723
Hershey 0 299,995 39 7,692
Rochester 0 254,107 36 7,059
Philadelphia 0 258,347 37 6,982
Providence 0 251,744 37 6,804
Grand Rapids 0 240,239 38 6,322
Houston 0 212,435 37 5,741
Syracuse 3,904 194,652 36 5,407
Iowa 0 191,908 37 5,187
Hartford 0 184,944 37 4,998
Milwaukee 0 194,325 39 4,983
Hamilton 0 182,452 37 4,931
Portland 0 177,120 37 4,787
Peoria 0 170,939 36 4,748
Toronto 0 158,927 36 4,415
San Antonio 0 155,535 36 4,320
Norfolk 0 151,843 36 4,218
Binghamton 0 149,656 37 4,045
Albany 0 151,703 38 3,992
Bridgeport 0 140,144 39 3,593
Lowell 0 132,606 37 3,584
Cleveland 0 128,514 37 3,473
Springfield 0 124,334 36 3,454
Omaha 0 119,797 38 3,153

League 3,904 5,401,409 998 5,412

Educated guess is that anything under 5,000 is losing money or scraping by. Say they average $10-$12 REVENUE per ticket. That’s only at the most $1.5 million in revenue for the year on a $2.5-$3 million (or more) budget. I believe, not positive, but NHL affiliations cost between $800,000 and $1.2 million, plus they don’t give you all the players anymore so you have to go out and sign 5-6 free agents to fill out the roster. Office staffs are also larger, as is workers compensation (up to $300,000 in some places), insurance costs, travel costs (up to $250-$500,000), league fees (around $150,000), housing, etc. It’s not that hard to figure it out. That doesn’t even take into account any revenue for advertising or concessions or parking (The Komets don’t get concessions or parking or suites). I’ve been told when Kalamazoo draws 4,500, it’s equivalent to the Komets drawing 8,000 because the Wings get the concessions and parking.

Advertising revenue and souvenirs combined are big, but not that big. There’s a huge difference when you own the building.

Why do you think the AHL has either A) lost so many teams or B) moved so many teams over the past few years? Why isn’t Cincinnati playing anymore? That was a good hockey town, or Salt Lake, or Las Vegas? Why are all the teams in the ECHL South dying? Look at those attendance figures for Milwaukee, Lowell, Springfield, Albany, and even how far Grand Rapids has fallen. Those would scare me to death if I were the Frankes.

It’s not rocket science. I simply don’t believe FW fans will pay $5 more per ticket to go to the AHL. I know a lot of you would, but not enough to make it financially feasible. I miss those days, too, but we’ve got to be realistic. No, the UHL isn’t the IHL, but it is improving who knows? Someday it might be again.

I also don’t believe the sole focus of the AHL is winning as much as it is developing NHL players, and I don’t think that would ever go over here. FW fans demand to win. The first time the coach puts a rookie on the power play instead of a veteran because the NHL wants it that way, FW fans would scream bloody murder, not to mention losing your best players at playoff time because the NHL wants to expand its playoff roster.

I might be wrong, but I wouldn’t be willing to risk any of my money on it. The Frankes lost a lot of money during the last five years of the IHL, so what would their be incentive to take another leap? I’m not even sure it’s really a case of would fans be willing to spend more for tickets because I don’t think you could find owners willing to take the gamble here, Frankes or anyone else.

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16 Responses to “AAA attendance figures”

  1. Skate Says:

    People in Fort Wayne want everything to be top notch but absolutely WILL NOT pay for anything.

    People couldn’t understand how the Chicago Wolves of the IHL could sign their big name players. Well, seats that people here were bitching about paying $15 for were going for $40 in Chicago. Parking was, what $2 then (and people complained), in Chicago it was $10.

    I believe the Frankes are perfectly happy in the UHL drawing 7,400 people and controlling their own team. There is no reason for them to move to the AHL.

    Plus, I’d venture to say that 90% of the people who attend the games couldn’t tell the difference in play anyway.

  2. Hoss Says:

    I’m pretty sure K-Zoo doesn’t make much off of the parking since it’s free in K-Zoo. I understand they make alot off of the food, but the Komets could push for that in their next lease. The Wizards were smart enough to get a cut of all of the pie. That’s why they don’t care about giving away so many free tickets, since a butt in a free seat still pays to park, eat, drink, etc…

  3. Blake Says:

    No, they couldn’t. They tried and were turned down. For some reason it’s not an option at all in the arena for anybody for any reason.

  4. Hoss Says:

    I know they have tried, but if they stuck to their guns and said they would play somewhere else or build somewhere to play, they could get a better deal. It might be a game of “who blinks first” but I’m sure the Board of the MC would really like it if Randy Brown made the Komets leave over some $$$. They would both loose so much money if they didn’t have each other!!! They need to see that…

  5. Hit Somebody!!! Says:

    Blake any idea where the profits of the MC off of parking, concessions, etc. are going? Aren’t our tax dollars also paying for the MC as well? They should have to share the profits with the team in my opinion. We have been financing the MC with the food and beverage tax forever, and then they take the rest of the revenue, too? Do I hear……Downtown Arena? Whoever would build I’m sure would love the Komets to be the main attraction. Downtown is dying for something to draw people downtown. I still think we should avoid the AHL like the plague, however. UHL is just fine by me.

  6. Blake Says:

    No, Hit, they are keeping them so your tax dollars don’t have to. For decades the coliseum was on the tax rolls, but this is how they got of them. Food and beverage just pays for the rennovation. Before you lose your minds, the rennovation and Memorial Stadium will be paid off years early which is actually saving you tremendous amounts of money.

    I don’t think a downtown arena would ever work. Anybody knows how downtown traffic gets tied up when there’s something going on at the Embassy, so imagine a ball game. It would be madness. Parking is a joke. There’s nothing wrong with Memorial Stadium either.

    I’d rather see us put up a multi-purpose building downtown with a pool, ice and indoor track. How much trouble would that keep kids out of by giving them something positive?

  7. Hit Somebody!!! Says:

    I agree with the multi-purpose facility. Look at the interest that The Basketball Fieldhouse out North gets with tourneys and camps. I think that would help hotels downtown and bring in some different eateries as well.

    Are we the only team in the UHL that gets screwed on the concessions and parking?

  8. Komets PA Says:

    Here’s are a few reasons why a downtown arena would never work: There is never a place to park downtown, there are no old buildings which can be rehab’d and turned into something new and useful because they tore all those buildings down in the 70’s to make a park across the street from a park and caddy corner to another park. The only thing that could be done downtown is to make a multi-purpose center at the old Omnisource and old Y building area. Plenty of room and close to downtown and the north end of town. It would be great for a few ice rinks, roller hockey/multi purpose rink, and use the Y for basketball and other sports. But to see a downtown rink in Fort Wayne, it will never happen. Not enough reason to keep people downtown once you get them there. Also, it’s too bad that with the way McMillen Ice Arena has shaped up in the past few years that there are no places to eat or lodge anywhere near it. Wonder how all the people who came into town for the big tournament a few weeks ago felt about that.

  9. Hit Somebody!!! Says:

    No Offense intended….would you want to lodge near the Ice Arena? Kind of scary after dark.

  10. Anne Says:

    Thank-you for the detailed analysis which adds a lot to the discussion of going to the AHL. I suspect we would draw numbers to the stadium in the same range as Rochester (a mid-size city, cold winters, various other things to do in the winter besides hockey, a long history with minor league sports, though Rochester also has a AAA baseball team) and we would probably make money, though perhaps not enough. What I sometimes wonder is “What’s the point?”. As you pointed out Blake, the AHL teams serve two masters and winning may not always be in the interest of the parent. Beyond that, is the hockey really any more fun to watch? Sometimes I think folks want to go to the AHL just because they don’t like being thought of as ‘AA’. The solution may be to keep improving the quality of the UHL and bringing up the whole standard of play in the league. The question then becomes what can be done to make our own product better, without breaking the owners’ banks?

  11. Burgee Says:

    I just hope the U doesn’t do anything stupid like the I. Keep it simple.

    Komet hockey is entertaining, affordable and a fun thing to do throughout our winter. If i wanted to see a higher level sporting event i would seek it out. I’ve traveld to 5 Major professional sporting events in my 4 decades and have attended 2 others while in big cities on business, All 7 trips were with free event tickets.

    I enjoy my Komet hockey family, Twister and the other loud rowdies in 212, the rowdies who sit by the visitors bench, the threesome running the flags around in the arena and the rest of us diehards who know when and what to yell.

    Lets do whats best to keep the entertainment here. I would like to see the County reward this long standing business with some incentive (in addition to what they are doing now) to keep this good business at the top of its game. Some incentive perhaps for a sellout every game. Wouldn’t that make good business sense to fill every available seat 38 nights per year, invest in a business that is a going concern and at the top of its profession.

  12. Jeff Says:

    Blake,
    Loved your thoughts and information on AHL teams and attendance.

    It would be a MISTAKE to consider going to the AHL – you would be right back into the travel situation like the IHL – flying to most cities – other than those in the Midwest and Hershey.

    The ECHL is making the same STUPID mistakes the IHL made. What kind of rivalry can you ever expect to have between teams in Pensacola, Florida and Anchorage, Alaska? What I can’t figure out for the life of me is why teams like Toledo and Dayton stay in that league.

    I know this will never happen, but with the possible movement of Richmond and Roanoke to Illinois next year, why not couldn’t the UHL leaders propose to the ECHL leaders trading franchises – move Danbury, Elmira, and Adirondack to the ECHL in exchange for Toledo and Dayton and maybe Johnstown?

    Maybe that makes too much sense, but I see that Toledo and Dayton have more history with the UHL teams (and certainly established rivalries) than they could ever have in the ECHL.

    Just a few thoughts…

  13. Jeff Says:

    Blake,
    Loved your thoughts and information on AHL teams and attendance.

    It would be a MISTAKE to consider going to the AHL – you would be right back into the travel situation like the IHL – flying to most cities – other than those in the Midwest and Hershey.

    The ECHL is making the same STUPID mistakes the IHL made. What kind of rivalry can you ever expect to have between teams in Pensacola, Florida and Anchorage, Alaska? What I can’t figure out for the life of me is why teams like Toledo and Dayton stay in that league.

    I know this will never happen, but with the possible movement of Richmond and Roanoke to Illinois next year, why not couldn’t the UHL leaders propose to the ECHL leaders trading franchises – move Danbury, Elmira, and Adirondack to the ECHL in exchange for Toledo and Dayton and maybe Johnstown?

    Maybe that makes too much sense, but I see that Toledo and Dayton have more history with the UHL teams (and certainly established rivalries) than they could ever have in the ECHL.

    Just a few thoughts…

  14. Ed Says:

    I think it would be great to be in the AHL and maybe someday we can find out. I truly believe we could afford it and the fans would love it.

    Just some comments about what someothers have said:

    You can’t compare ticket prices and costs of other things between Chicago and Ft. Wayne. They make a lot more money working up their than we do here.

    Toledo, Dayton, and other teams in the ECHL simply like the higher level of play. It’s also more exciting to bring in teams from around the country. They play other exciting cities, that adds to the atmospher.

  15. Hit Somebody!!! Says:

    Ed, I am not so sure that the ECHL is any better than the UHL in level of play. It is probably the same or even a step-off. Seems like that is more of a lateral move isn’t it? AHL is a bad idea. I wouldn’t pay the extra money for hockey that isn’t that much different that comes with lots of pitfalls. Lets work to get the UHL the best it can be. That should be the goal. What is the benefit of moving up?

  16. Jeff Says:

    While the UHL (and every minor league) can work to improve, what I like about the U and the old IHL was that fans could easily travel to most cities for road games. I was able to go to places like Dayton (Hara Arena), Saginaw, and Grand Rapids (not Van Andel, Stadium Arena, a converted airplane hangar). I can still remember those trips – over 25 years later.
    I’d bet there were close to 100 fans at the Komets’ April 1 game in Motor City. At most games in Kalamazoo, there are almost as many Komet fans as there are Wings fans. If Fort Wayne even considered moving to another league, there would still be some road trip opportunities, but how many fans would or could travel to Florida, Alaska, California, New Jersey, or the Carolinas?


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