A look at Storm’s playoff attendance

Joe MacIntyre
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Columnist interested in joining local Crosby Fan Club

The Island Storm is averaging 1,370 fans per game through their first four home games in this year's National Basketball League of Canada playoffs.

Those numbers are certainly nothing to get excited about, but will likely get better as the Storm advance deeper into the post-season. That was evidenced in their last home game, when 1,906 fans took in Game 2 against Halifax. According to the NBL of Canada website, the Storm’s first three playoff home games attracted crowds of 1,207, 1,235 and 1,132.

Releasing attendance numbers seems to be a bit of a secret in this league, or at least it has been during the regular season.

During last year's playoffs in Summerside, the Storm twice drew over 2,000 fans – 2,073 and 2,582 – and had one crowd of 3,019. Their other two home games attracted 1,530 and 1,239 spectators.

In the Storm’s five home playoff games last season, the team averaged 2,089 fans – 719 more fans a game up to this point.

How the Storm did at the gate during the regular season this year is anyone's guess, but there were crowds reportedly in the 600-to-700 range for some games. That is coming from a season-ticket holder that has had tickets since this team started.

He tells me that he really enjoyed the product while in Summerside, and he enjoyed it so much that he bought season tickets again this year after the move to Charlottetown.

In his words, the atmosphere and excitement was 500 per cent better last year than this year, and that should not be much of a surprise to anyone.

We all know the former Charlottetown Civic Centre, now Eastlink Centre, is not very fan friendly. When you compare an event there with an event at Eastlink Arena in Summerside, well, you guessed it, there is no comparison.

The Storm did such a fabulous job of attracting fans to Summerside and building their fan base, one wonders why they would mess with that?

They were a big fish in a little pond in Summerside, and as I have said here many times, Prince County fans are great supporters of local teams.

Charlottetown has always had a lot more competition for the entertainment dollar and, combined with the poor facility factor, one should not be surprised how things have gone for the Storm in Charlottetown.

Island fans are no different than anywhere, they like a winner and the more winning the Storm do, the greater the crowds will be, or at least Storm ownership hopes that is the case. In fairness to the Storm’s ownership, they have put a championship-contending team on the court the past two seasons.

The Storm hosts Halifax in Game 5 of the best-of-seven Atlantic Division final series on Monday night.

Sidney Crosby

Sidney Crosby is considered by many to be hockey's best player. He is quietly having another good year leading the NHL scoring race while staying injury-free.

There was time when Crosby first broke into the NHL that I thought he did a lot of whining and complaining to officials, and was rarely very cordial in references to his opponents. Times have changed, and certainly Crosby has matured to the point where he has become a true professional.

 I watched him closely during the recent Olympics, and I must say I was impressed with his leadership and professionalism. He was a great captain for Canada.

With Crosby being from the Maritimes and spending a great deal of his minor hockey days honing his skills at the Andrews Growth Hockey Schools at Slemon Park, a lot of Islanders follow him closely.

Although he did not light it up like many expected at the Olympics, he was a complete player like all his teammates and he has another gold medal to show for it. I am becoming a Crosby fan, and am wondering if local Sidney Crosby Fan Club president Glenn Peddle will allow a new member?  

MLB begins

Major League Baseball (MLB) kicks off another season in just over a week, and this year has the makings for a great year.

A big change for baseball will be the introduction of video replay, and that will make for an even better game. I will not get into all the details, but the bottom line is that it will get the call right, and that is what everyone wants.

Studies have shown that the umpires miss a call every six innings, and those numbers will decrease with video replay. It will be like the NHL where the review is made at headquarters, and quickly sent back and the game resumed.

It should help with key plays in the game getting the right call. The Toronto Blue Jays look good in the pre-season, and having a healthy Jose Reyes will help the Jays greatly. He is a key player and when he got hurt early last year, things continued downhill for the Jays.

If the Jays can stay healthy, they will be contenders.

This will be the final season for New York Yankee legend Derek Jeter, and that will bring out fans in big numbers to see who some consider to be baseball's best-ever player. He has had an exceptional career, and fans will get a chance to show their appreciation for one of the game’s all-time favourites.

Fans in Montreal will get a chance to see Major League Baseball next weekend as the Toronto Blue Jays will host the New York Mets in two games at Olympic Stadium. Could this game help in the process of a return of Major League Baseball to Montreal?

No doubt the game will generate a lot of talk, but I think it is a very remote possibility that we will ever see those beloved Expos once again.

Flashback

Twenty-five years ago on March 22, 1989, the Borden Gateway Ramparts took a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven P.E.I. Senior B Hockey League semifinal series with the Summerside Regent Leafs.

The Ramparts posted a 6-1 victory in Game 5.

George Roberts, Austin Roberts, Terry Dougay, Blair Smith, Graham Deighan and Chris Reeves scored for the Ramparts. Duane McNeill countered for the Leafs.

The game was over an hour late starting as the game officials failed to show up at Cahill Stadium. Local officials Bob Betton, Gordie Woodard and Ken Noonan were all called in as replacements, and did a great job.

Joe MacIntyre is a Summerside resident. His column appears every second Saturday. Comments and suggestions can be sent to j-mac@eastlink.ca.

Organizations: Fan Club, NBL, NHL Toronto Blue Jays Charlottetown Civic Centre Major League Baseball Andrews Growth Hockey Schools MLB beginsMajor League Baseball New York Mets

Geographic location: Summerside, Canada, Charlottetown Prince Montreal Slemon Park Olympic Stadium Cahill Stadium

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