Cats Crowds At The BankAtlantic Center Show Increase Over 2003-04 Season
SUNRISE, Fla. – Just two months into the regular season, South Florida hockey fans have proved to be one of the most dedicated and passionate groups in the National Hockey League. The return of Florida Panthers hockey to the BankAtlantic Center has led to large and enthusiastic crowds and a significant increase in attendance over the 2003-04 season.
The Panthers have averaged 16,123 fans over the first 11 regular season home games, up from the 13,941 fan average at the same point in '03-'04 – a 15.6% increase. The BankAtlantic Center has seen one sellout – on opening night – and seven crowds of over 16,000.
"The numbers say that Panthers hockey is as popular as ever in South Florida," Sunrise Sports & Entertainment chief operating officer Michael Yormark said. "Our fans continue to be loyal and fervent while the rest of the NHL finds out what a great hockey market there truly is in South Florida."
An article published in USA Today on Nov. 23 entitled "Attendance: Fans forgive, forget, file in" cited the Panthers (plus-16.5%) as the No. 6 team in the NHL as far as total attendance increase over 2003-04. The Cats landed just .1-percent behind Boston for No. 5, with Pittsburgh leading the pack (plus-37.1%).
That being said, Cats fans will have a chance to cement their loyal reputation even more this weekend with three great games in five days. The Panthers will face rookie sensation Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals on Thursday, Dec. 1 at 7 p.m., Stanley Cup Champion goalie Nikolai Khabibulin and the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday, Dec. 3 at 7:30 p.m. and the NHL's leading scorer Jason Spezza and the Ottawa Senators on Monday, Dec. 5 at 7 p.m.
With the Florida Pit Bulls game vs. the Baltimore Pearls on Friday, Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. the BankAtlantic Center expects to host four events in five days with an expected total attendance of over 50,000 – another reason why the BankAtlantic Center is the "Center of it All" in South Florida.
Fans should keep in mind that the Capitals and Senators games were both rescheduled from October due to the arrival of Hurricane Wilma. Tickets that were purchased for either original date – Washington on Oct. 29 and Ottawa on Oct. 22 – will be honored for the upcoming games.