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Texas Stars have better attendance than Hamilton Bulldogs

Last season, the Dallas Stars operated without an AHL affiliate while waiting a year for their new, local affiliate to get up and running. The Texas Stars, based out of Austin, kicked off their inaugural season in September, 2009 and instantly became a hit with the locals.

What’s that? Yes, you read that right; AHL hockey was a success in Austin, Texas.

It’s not exactly your traditional hockey crowd (there’s just as many Texas Longhorns hats as there are Stars hats) but the fans that do come to the game are enthusiastic, loud and knowledgeable about the game of hockey.

One reason the team has been so successful in just their first season has been their success on the ice; the Stars have been at or near the top of their division all season long. Yet the Stars also had an extremely high number of preseason ticket sales. showing that the sport of hockey is viable in such a ‘non-traditional’ locale as Austin, Texas.

With the Stars facing the Hamilton Bulldogs this past week in the AHL conference finals, we’ve also been shown that perhaps all the talk about Canada needing another hockey team is perhaps a bit premature.

With Jim Balsillie hoping to buy the Phoenix Coyotes and move them to Hamilton, Ontario last summer, the internet erupted in arguments on how a town like Hamilton ‘deserved’ a NHL team more than Phoenix and would certainly be a better financial option. Despite another NHL team being in the area, we were assured that fans in the area would flock to see an NHL team.

Yet why is it that a hockey team in Austin, Texas is turning out more fans per game than one in Hamilton? From Defending Big D:

Though eight home playoff games each, Stars fans have filled the Cedar Park Center with an average attendance of 4,873 people per game - that number of course really helped by this past weekend’s attendance at all three games: 4,535 for game three on Wednesday and then 6,215 for Friday night’s game four and 5,020 for last night’s game five.

Compare that to the city of Hamilton - or as Jim Basille calls it: “Southern Ontario” - where in eight playoff games the Bulldogs have only averaged 3,142 fans. Games one and two at Copps Coliseum drew 2,977 and 2,897 fans respectively.

On average, the Stars also outdrew the Bulldogs for regular season games as well.

Hey, maybe hockey fans in the area just aren’t that big on the Bulldogs and are just biding their time until a NHL team shows up. Then the fans will show up in droves, providing the economic support for a team that couldn’t cut it in the ‘south’.

Of course, this argument is a bit moot since their won’t be an NHL team in Hamilton anytime soon. It’s just an interesting study of hockey fans in an area that claimed they ‘deserved’ a hockey team more than another town. This isn’t even an argument about hockey in the south versus Canada. I don’t discourage anybody from having a hockey team. This just goes to show that hockey can be successful anywhere, even in Austin, Texas.