The North American Hockey League (NAHL), from its office is Frisco, Texas, recently announced it set a new average attendance record of 1,524 per game lst season, a 12 percent increase from 2011-12.
Total attendance was 1,097,499 -- down slightly from 1,128,098 fans the previous season when there were four more teams.
So why should you care?
Well, the league is expanding to Richfield next season. The Minnesota Magicians will play at the Richfield Ice Arena, which seats 1,800.
The owners of the Magicians, obviously, think the team can draw.
So does the NAHL by its approval of the franchise.
Here is what NAHL Commissioner Mark Frankenfeld said, speaking in generalities, “As we continue to evolve the NAHL, the owners have been more aware and responsible in approving markets that have the best chance of long-term sustainability and success within their respective communities.
“I think the attendance numbers this year are providing further proof that certain methodology is working and fans are continuing to respond to our brand and level of hockey. They are enjoying the passion and talent our players bring to the arena every night, and because our teams do a great job at getting these players out in the community with their community-based initiatives, the fans feel that personal connection and can identify with the players. It is an exciting and entertaining product to watch and one the entire family can enjoy for eight months out of the year.”
The Austin [Minn.] Bruins was one of the NAHL teams this past season that had a significant increase in attendance. Others were Corpus Christi, Michigan and Kenai River.
So what is the NAHL? It is a 24-team league in 13 states playing Junior A hockey. Its players are between the ages of 16 and 20.
MAGICIANS TAKING SHAPE
The Magicians have a coach, Scott Meyer, who has a strong USHL background, and have signed several players already.
D Thomas Delaney, White Bear Lake
D Charlie Curti, Mound Westonka
F Travis Koepke, Hermantown
F Mario Bianchi, Holy Angels
The team's web is here.
The Magicians also are on twitter at @MnMagiciansNAHL
The Magicians will play in the Central Division with Austin, four teams from the Dakotas and one from Wisconsin. They will have a pre-draft camp May 31-June 2 at the Richfield Ice Arena before their main camp July 26-28 at their home rink.
More than 100 NAHL players have committed to NCAA teams, five were taken in the NHL draft last summer.
Somewhat surprisingly, some of the NAHL teams in Texas drew the best. Here are the regular-season attendance numbers:
TEAM TOTAL AVERAGE
Fresno 106,662 3,555
Corpus Christi 99,300 3,310
Wenatchee 85,624 2,854
Odessa 77,275 2,575
Johnstown 75,830 2,527
Amarillo 67,357 2,245
Fairbanks 66,276 2,209
Wichita Falls 56,875 1,895
Topeka 55,899 1,863
Texas 53,979 1,799
Aberdeen 36,870 1,229
Austin 36,609 1,220
Bismarck 36,344 1,211
Michigan 30,423 1,014
Minot 29,590 986
Springfield 27,822 927
Kenai River 25,659 855
Janesville 23,943 798
Soo 20,142 671
Jamestown 20,024 667
Brookings 19,678 655
Port Huron 18,586 619
Coulee Region 16,920 564
Kalamazoo 9,812 327
TOTALS: 1,097,499 1,524