The New York Islanders are averaging 12,977 in attendance per game at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. That’s tickets distributed rather than a turnstile count, per NHL policy. That puts the Islanders at No. 29 in the League, ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes.
But the attendance pattern for the Islanders is much like that of the New Jersey Devils and some other U.S. markets: There are usually more fannies in the seats after the turn of the calendar than there are in October or November. This should be especially true as the Islanders are in a playoff spot, provided the Johnny Boychuk injury isn’t too devastating.
So there’s optimism at the gate for the Islanders, and Brett Yormark, chief executive of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment which runs Barclays Center, said the team is going to aggressively go after those fans starting … NOW.
How do you plan to draw more fans?
Three ways. We have to continue to market very aggressively, we’ve got to continue to do community outreach and humanize the players and get them to the grassroots level, and we have to create a sampling environment, getting people to experience hockey live.
In the third week of January, we’ll kick off a multifaceted, seven-figure marketing campaign that gets people excited about this season and the run to the playoffs and next season. A lot of people don’t get excited about hockey when it starts in October. The enthusiasm rises in January, and most teams experience between a 10% to 20% lift.
According to Yormark, north of 5,000 people are taking the Long Island Railroad to Islanders games. What the team needs is to make inroads in Manhattan, Queens and of course Brooklyn.
The “humanize the players and get them to the grassroots level” approach seems like a very off-season move, so we’re interested to see how the Islanders push this team as must-see to fans that have yet to venture to Barclays to see them. Or, like, see most of them, depending on the seats.
For what it’s worth, the Islanders' unofficial mascot in Brooklyn, the White SUV, has offered its services:
— YeSUV (@IslesWhiteSUV) January 5, 2016
Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.
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