It isn’t hard to find empty seats in Ewigleben Ice Arena this year.
From the Dawg Pound to the bleachers where visiting fans sit, empty bleachers are something that can’t be missed. The 2,500-seat arena can easily hold the crowds out to watch the Bulldogs this season, as most nights the arena fills to just more than half capacity.
Team success and the amount of profit a university makes from the team go hand in hand. When a team is good, people go out to watch the team. They want to show their support to a team that they enjoy watching. That desire to watch an athletics team is capitalized on monetarily through ticket sales and concessions.
The opposite is also the case, as when a team is struggling, fewer people are willing to come out and show support. Not many people like to watch their team lose. That means a loss in revenue to that team.
Ferris hockey is learning this the hard way this season, as the attendance numbers for hockey are coming in woefully short from past years.
In fact, this season has seen the lowest average attendance for home games since the statistic became available.
With only four home games left in the season, the attendance sits at an average of 1,345 people per game. That is nearly 100 people less than the next lowest mark, set in the 2008-2009 season at 1,424.
Searching through online archives dating back to 1997, there has never been a hockey season that has seen such low attendance. Attendance before this year has never dropped to less than 1,400 people per game.
Currently, the total attendance for the season sits at 16,134. If we multiply the average attendance by four and add it to the current total, we can project that the overall audience for the entire season will be somewhere near 21,000 people.
That sounds like solid attendance, but 21,000 people are 4,000 people fewer than the previous lowest year, and more than 8,000 people less than last year’s total, which stood at 28,977.
Now, what does this mean financially? If the average ticket for a Ferris Hockey game is $10, then the amount of lost revenue from last season to this season can reach to more than $70,000. That is not including losses in concessions.
We may not know for sure that attendance numbers won’t go up as the season ends. The Bulldogs play four conference games that are sure to bring fans to games. With the Bulldogs ending their nine-game losing streak, things may be looking up.
Still, to be able to not make history as the most poorly attended season in over 22 seasons, there will need to be a high number of fans in attendance. The arena will need to see over 1,800 people in each of the last four games to reach over 2008-2009’s record low.
The next home game is 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 14, against Michigan Tech — a team who they just defeated this past Saturday.