A common complaint from fans in "traditional hockey markets" revolves around the latitude of "non-traditional hockey markets". The teams located in the Southern U.S. are poor hockey markets (though, to be fair, Toronto is too far south for Edmontonians, and is considered a poor hockey market) that can't survived on their own. Attendance numbers and television ratings normally prove their point, heated debate ensues then everyone goes home.
Markets that are typically labeled as "poor" include Atlanta, Miami, Nashville, and Tampa. In recent years, the attendance numbers for these teams have sagged something fierce. But Dixie Hockey is not alone. Since their sellout streak ended in October of 2006, the Avalanche have watched as attendance has dropped yearly.
||14th||9th in Conf.||No
||17th||10th in League||Yes
||28th in League
||3rd in Conf.*
The chart speaks for itself. Colorado made the second round of the playoffs in 05-06. Coming off of that season, the sellout streak was broken and they sold out a portion of the games the rest of the year, but there was no restarting the streak. They missed the playoffs in 2007-2008 by a single point, but were in the race until the last week of the season. Attendance continued to sag. Last season, the rebuild began and the attendance numbers fell sharply.
This year, with the team off to a hot start, a possible Olympian in net and a possible Calder winner, the first-place Avs have watched as attendance has fallen off of a cliff. Commenters and writers have blamed the recession, the 28th place team last year, and other factors, but teams like Philadelphia and New York have weathered the same circumstances without watching the gate implode.
So is Colorado too far south? Is Denver just a poor hockey market? Should the Avs move to Hamilton or back to Quebec?