by Todd Anderson
A record year on the ice for the Ottawa Senators translated into a record year in the stands. This season the Senators and Scotiabank Place ranked eighth in NHL attendance. Senators and Scotiabank Place president and chief executive officer Roy Mlakar is appreciative of the fan support in 2005-06.
"We had great response from our fans in Hockey Country by finishing eighth in attendance among the NHL's 30 teams," Mlakar says. "Hats off to the fans for their great support. We thank you."
In his first season in an Ottawa uniform, forward Dany Heatley was also impressed with the crowds at Scotiabank Place.
"It was exciting playing in front of them. The fans were great. It was a great experience."
Mlakar says that followers of the league embraced the new rules implemented by the NHL this season, and the changes fit the plans set out by both Senators general manager John Muckler and head coach Bryan Murray.
"I loved the new rules. It created excitement for all. There were more goals, long passes and fans really enjoyed the shootouts. Our GM and head coach are on the same page when it comes to offensive hockey. Their philosophies are similar to those of the Edmonton Oilers of the 1980s. Both men like to be creative. Their success was evident in our league-leading 312 goals this season."
While the Senators' attendance figures included a regular-season average of 19,474 fans per game, 33 regular-season sellouts and another six sellouts in the playoffs during each home game, Scotiabank Place was also successful with other events.
The facility ranked 14th among worldwide venues in concert ticket sales for the period of January 1, 2006, to March 31, 2006. That was up from a ranking of 41st during a 2005 survey.
"The building had a great year," Mlakar says. "With many varied events, fans across the National Capital Region have been delighted with the shows we have been able to provide them."
The Senators were also proud to be involved in several community initiatives that came to fruition in 2005-06. On May 3, 2006, a bid committee formed by several local groups, including the Ottawa Senators and Scotiabank Place, was selected as host of the 2009 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships. Roger's House, a pediatric palliative care facility was officially opened on April 21, 2006. Built on the grounds of the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), Roger's House is only the second facility of its kind in Canada as it was modelled after Canuck Place Children's Hospice in Vancouver. Its objective is to enhance the comfort and quality of life for children and their families living with a life-limiting illness. On Jan. 11, 2006, Scotiabank and the Ottawa Senators Hockey Club announced a new partnership that included the Corel Centre being renamed to Scotiabank Place. The 15-year agreement came on the 10th anniversary of the facility. In its first year, the Bell Sensplex welcomed its 1,000,000th guest during the 2006 Bell Capital Cup on Dec. 12, 2005.
Click here to visit a photo gallery of fans cheering on the Senators in 2005-06.