The 2021-2022 QMJHL season was billed as a return to normalcy. That hasn’t been the case at all when it comes to attendance.
Attendance numbers are down, way down, which is extremely scary proposition for some organizations, but particularly those in the Maritimes.
Obviously, one would assume that the fourth wave of the pandemic is hurting those numbers substantially. Maritime based teams had the luxury of having fans a season ago, unlike their counterparts in Quebec, but that still doesn’t help matters this year.
The question every organization is asking themselves right now is why?
COVID-19 has undoubtedly taken a toll on the entertainment industry, but let’s face it, this is hockey, and this is hockey crazed country. Why aren’t people showing up for the games? Is it scheduling? Is it ticket pricing? Where is everyone?
Attendance numbers have always fluctuated across the QMJHL. It is what it is, but the downward trend to start the season, a season that had been banked upon as a massive financial rebound year should definitely be cause for concern.
The Halifax’s and Moncton’s of the world will always land on their feet for obvious reasons, but what about the other smaller Maritime markets?
The rumours about the potential sale of the Acadie-Bathurst Titan and downward spiral in attendance which is occurring in the Port City is definite cause for concern and could potentially change the landscape of the QMJHL in the Maritimes for years to come.
The Cape Breton Eagles rebranding and 25th Anniversary celebrations have brought a lot of attention to that market which is great to see, hopefully that will also mean an increase in sales. The Charlottetown Islanders will always draw a solid crowd, especially given their caliber and culture of the team. Junior hockey’s dreaded cycle can also cause some dips in attendance numbers, but the Maritimes Division always boasts an exciting brand of hockey no matter what stage it’s teams are in. One can speculate that behind closed doors in every single board room across the Maritimes attendance numbers are being discussed.
A return to normalcy in the QMJHL is great to see, let’s hope we can get people back to the rinks like “normal” sooner than later.