April 1, 2011
Shrinking Knights crowds prove puzzling
By RYAN PYETTE, QMI Agency
The London Knights are one of junior hockey’s biggest surprises after playing first-place Owen Sound all square through four games of their best-of-seven OHL series.
But the bigger shocker is the Knights are doing it in front of some of the smallest crowds since the team moved to the John Labatt Centre nine years ago.
Throughout the regular season, London often announced its attendance at the full house rate of 8,975.
But Game 2 against the Attack last Saturday drew just 7,650 and Game 4 was even lower at 7,409.
“We’re doing the same things we’ve always done to sell (playoff) tickets,” Knights president and head coach Dale Hunter said. “I don’t know why the crowds are down right now. It’s spring. Some people are busy.”
Theories abound. One is the Knights finished eighth, didn’t have home ice advantage for the first time in eight years and weren’t able to secure a game in this series on their traditional Friday night date.
But the Knights offer their 7,000 season-ticket holders first shot at buying back their seats for playoff games. If they don’t make the purchase — and some have chose that route this round — the tickets go on sale to the rest of the public often just a few days before the next game.
Game 6 tickets went on sale to the public on Friday morning.
“We have great fans and great crowds,” London assistant GM Jim McKellar said. “The perception out there is that we’re still sold out and that’s not the case here. This is a great opportunity for some people who have never been able to before to watch our games at the 100-level.”
The Knights box office is open Saturday and Sunday. Tickets can be purchased in person at the rink or over the phone at (519) 681-0800.