Although the season is still young, it’s interesting to note the early attendance trends in the British Columbia Hockey League. As a reminder, this is year one for the Wenatchee Wild in this all-Canadian league following their first several years of existence in the North American Hockey League.
The BCHL consists of 17 teams divided into three regions of British Columbia, plus Wenatchee. Through their first five home matches, the Wild lead their new league in attendance, averaging 2,752 per contest. A distant second is Penticton, at 2,194. To give a measuring stick, the average attendance at all BCHL games this year is 1,180.
This type of performance is nothing new for the Wild franchise. In their last three years in the 24-team NAHL, they were third, second and second in average attendance. That’s consistency and an amazing accomplishment considering their division was comprised of teams from Texas and Kansas. That wasn’t built from ‘rooter busses’ making the trip from Corpus Christi. It was, and continues to be, from a solid and local fan base.
So what gives? How can that level of interest and support be attained year after year? It’s actually pretty basic. Not easy, but fundamental.
First, the Wild put out an entertaining and competitive product on the ice with consistency. The team also wins a lot. In fact, following last weekend’s play, they were in first place in the six-team Mainland Division.
Next, their coaching and structure is top level. The Wild office puts a lot of effort into marketing and making sure that the fan’s experience at the game is exciting and fun. Team members get incorporated into the community, so there is a nice connection with the locals.
And of course, it’s hard to beat the venue. The Town Toyota Center is a tremendous facility for hockey, helping to make game attendance enjoyable.
All of those components make for a successful combination. The Wild front office, coaching staff and players bring a unique and powerful passion to the ice, one that has obviously rubbed off on their fan base.