Canes Now

Canes had only 7,892 fans at Columbus game. Here’s the Canes’ attendance strategy.

A much smaller crowd came for the Canes' second home game between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Columbus Blue Jackets at PNC Arena on Oct. 10, 2017.
A much smaller crowd came for the Canes' second home game between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Columbus Blue Jackets at PNC Arena on Oct. 10, 2017. cseward@newsobserver.com

The Carolina Hurricanes’ home attendance Tuesday – or lack thereof – again has created some chatter throughout the NHL.

The Canes, following a sellout at PNC Arena on Saturday for their home opener, had an announced crowd of 7,892 Tuesday for their Metropolitan Division game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Canes have ranked last among NHL teams in home attendance the past two seasons, drawing an average of 11,776 in 2016-17.

In an interview last week, Canes president Don Waddell was asked if finishing last in the league was embarrassing.

“We’re not last in the league in attendance,” Waddell said. “You guys can publish (attendance) reports, but I go by dollars. So we’re not last.

“Nobody is happy where we are, no doubt. We also have to continue to keep moving all the elements forward. If we can do that, I think attendance is going to pick up with that.”

Waddell said that when he was named president in July 2014, the Canes had a season-ticket base – in terms of full-season ticket holders and season-ticket equivalencies – of about 5,400. He said that base has been built to about 7,000.

“We’re making some progress under the circumstances, and we’re just going to keep going,” he said. “I talk to our sales staff all the time (that) winning or losing doesn’t stop us from doing our job. If we win, it’s going to make our job a little easier to sell more tickets. But we don’t use that as an excuse.”

Waddell’s strategy has been to put more emphasis on adding to the value of season tickets. One part of his strategy, after getting feedback from season-ticket holders, was to reduce the number of complimentary and discounted tickets per game.

Reducing that number has resulted in smaller crowds but helped Waddell and those on the business side convince those considering buying season tickets that they were getting full value.

The Canes had an announced sellout of 18,680 on Saturday for the opener against Minnesota. Tuesday’s crowd, on a weeknight, was smaller than any hockey crowd at PNC Arena last season – Carolina drew 8,086 for the Nov. 11 game against Anaheim.

The Canes’ attendance of 18,680 in the 2016-17 home opener against the New York Rangers was their only sellout of the season. They had six crowds of fewer than 9,000, and four were in the month of November, when the Canes had seven home games.

The Canes’ smallest home crowd in the 2015-16 season was 9,021 for an early December game against Arizona..

Chip Alexander: 919-829-8945, @ice_chip

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