Pepsi Center: ‘Why Am I So Empty?’

Adrian Dater points out Monday’s Avs-Flames game drew just 11,448 fans.

The comments on Dater’s post are interesting. Some say attendance is low because the Avs play the same teams over and over.

Other people said it’s a marketing issue.

One poster said Avs fans are still put off by last season’s debacles.

I’m going to throw out another theory: fan fatigue over the course of a long season.

Right now, Colorado is leading the Northwest Division. Calgary is right behind them, but considering there are around 50 games left in the season, Calgary and Colorado will probably swap places a few times. But basically, as long as Colorado doesn’t have some kind of epic collapse, fans know Colorado is heading to the post-season. So why would a casual fan spend money on tickets if the game is going to be relatively meaningless? Casual fans need to be told why a game is important or exciting. Casual fans aren’t opposed to buying tickets, but they need some kind of reason to do so. The reason can be an opposing star, a significant game, or an important storyline, but you have to give them some kind of motivation to leave the house. Hardcore fans know why a given game matters, but the casual fan doesn’t.

This isn’t just a Colorado problem, either. Scotty Hockey said Madison Square Garden was pretty empty last night, although in that case, the Rangers had a sell-out. Fans just didn’t show up to claim their paid seats. But that probably has to do with the Rangers being horrible right now.

Hockey is a two-season sport: The regular season and the post-season. As more and more things compete for our time, my theory is that a decent number of hockey fans are focusing their time and money on the post-season. I have no doubt that come the playoffs, the Pepsi Center will be jam-packed with rabid fans.

And one final possible factor: Are hockey fans changing? Hemisphere Magazine, an in-flight magazine, sent me a link to an article on the NHL’s embrace of the Internet as a marketing tool. I was going to dash off some airline jokes and ask you to imagine I’m reciting them in front of a spotlit brick wall, but instead the article got me wondering if the NHL’s use of the Internet might be hurting regular season attendance a bit. Are these Avs fans home because they’d rather watch the game while posting on Twitter, with GameCenter Live on in the background, in case the Colorado game isn’t great? As amazing as a live game is, do these fans prefer the online experience in some way?

Also, as we close in on Christmas and pass Hanukkah’s halfway mark, please be aware you can buy a putter shaped like a hockey stick. I’m not being compensated for this plug. I just thought it was a funny product.