By Marco Di Meo
With the NHL season officially underway, Ontario Hockey League ticket sales may feel the immediate impact.
Now with players back on the ice, after the 113 day lockout, franchises like restaurants, sports bars, arena staff etc., will certainly benefit. However, there will be businesses that could lose money, like different hockey leagues throughout North America such as the OHL and the American Hockey League.
Although the OHL gained a larger fan base during the lockout, many of the fans may leave now that their favorite NHL team is back in action.
Phil Ercolani, Marketing, Sales and Media Relations of the Brampton Battalion of the OHL, told Humber News he doesn’t expect to lose any fans now that the National Hockey League is back.
“Our first home game during the new NHL season was only yesterday and our attendance was at 2,362,” he said Tuesday. “The NHL lockout and the return of the NHL hasn’t had a significant impact on our attendance and shouldn’t going forward.”
Ercolani said historically the Brampton Battalion’s attendance increases during the second half of the season and he expects this year to be no different.
The AHL, which is a league comprised of the NHL’s farm teams, is also one of the leagues that could potentially see a decline in ticket sales now that the lockout has ended.
Paul Hendrick, Leafs TV reporter, thinks that the Toronto Maple Leafs’ AHL affiliate team, the Toronto Marlies, might be affected.
“I think the Marlies attendance on Saturday nights will not be upwards of 8,000 people simply because there will be a Leaf game that night. But they’ll tamper their games, they’ll move them back to 3:00 o’clock in the afternoon,” he said.
“I expect the Marlies, with the good team they have, will probably see their attendance still averaging around 6,000 fans per game which is a really solid base. It may lower somewhat but really [a lot] of the fans they attract [will be] there.
If there is an interest decline then it won’t be all that measurable once the NHL comes back, Hendrick said.
Scott Rogers, Vice President of the Mississauga Steelheads of the OHL, told Humber News his club might even see an increase in ticket sales.
“I don’t think we’ll see a dip in ticket sales, we know being located in Mississauga that the Leafs are and will always be number one for entertainment in hockey,” said Rogers.
“But we fit a different type of market and lots of people love hockey. Now that everyone is excited that hockey is back we may even see an increase in ticket sales,” he said.