Opinion: Titan sees an increase in attendance during 2013-14 season
Author’s note: First and foremost, as someone who fell in love with this team back when they played their first game at the K.C. Irving Regional Civic Centre back in September of 1998, let me say this: To the people who attended just one Titan game or all 34 this season, thank you and congratulations. We did it.
It has not been the easiest of seasons. Injuries, losing streaks, long stretches without goals, the usual flurry of trades to change the future direction of the team.
Throughout all of this, the Titan has seen a very encouraging number in one of the areas that many in the media have criticized over the past few seasons: a rise in overall and average attendance.
That’s right. 57,193 fans – both cheering for the home and away teams – attended 34 games at the K.C. Irving Regional Centre this season giving an average attendance of 1,682 fans per game.
When you look at the numbers from last season – the final under the ownership of Léo-Guy Morrissette, Bathurst saw just 47,979 in attendance over the 34 games, averaging out to 1,411 fans per game.
Crunching the numbers, it equates to an increase of 9,214 overall and an average increase of 271 per game or 19.2 per cent.
This number will put the Titan in last place on the list for overall attendance during the season, but not by much. With the Val-d’Or Foreurs having finished their 34-game run at their home arena, they saw 59,472 fans pass through the turnstiles, giving them an average of 1,749 per game.
That’s just 2,279 more than the Titan.
If it were not for the debacle on Feb. 16 that saw a game go on despite the city still digging itself out from its second blizzard in a 72 hour period resulting in a game attendance of just 380, the Titan may have caught the Foreurs in overall attendance.
Up until that point, the Titan was drawing over 2,000 fans despite being in the midst of a 13-game losing streak. The attendance would fluctuate between 100 to 200 fans depending on the night, but they were still drawing over 2,000 on a regular basis, something not seen in quite a while. Take a look at the numbers below.
I included the initial games before the run of 2,000-plus fans per game streak began to show you that despite the 13-game losing streak which had begun on Jan. 17, the Titan was still drawing close to 2,000 per game.
The Titan should be proud for being able to turn the tide and begin to recapture some of the fan base that had disappeared over the past few years. When General Manager Sylvain Couturier said the mission was to get younger at the trade deadline, people were initially taking that claim with a grain of salt as the Titan had always been in a state of rebuilding according to several long-time fans.
For once, it seems the mission has stayed its course. The second-half of the season has been all about the young Titan players gaining valuable experience under the leadership of a number of veterans, and while it may have taken some time, the plan is starting to pay off. How?
Because the fan base is finally buying into the rebuilding plan Couturier laid out. Not to mention he’s doing things that had previously never been done before. He attended the World Under-17 Challenge in Sydney, N.S. back in late-December. He’s sending people to the World Under-18 Hockey Championship in Finland next month to scout European talent first-hand. He’s set himself up to have two first-round, three third-round and two fourth-round picks in the upcoming draft.
Couturier is showing people that without the handcuffs he may have had on during his initial run as Titan general manager under the Morrissette era, he’s doing everything he can to win back the trust of the city, the region and most importantly the fans.
He preached patience, and the fan base is responding. The proof is in the numbers.
Now, the goal is to make good in the coming season.
Although in the present, let’s stop and take a minute to enjoy this victory for the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, their new ownership group, their staff, their players and most importantly, us the fans.