Spitfires Working With Dwindling Support (Poll)January 27, 2016 6:14am
The Windsor Spitfires are in first place in the OHL’s West Division, yet are seeing the lowest fan turnout since moving to the WFCU Centre in 2008.
This season’s average attendance of just over 4,500 per game might seem like a lot to some OHL franchises, but it’s a far cry from the 6,200 seen in Windsor from 2009 through 2011.
General Manager Warren Rychel says he and others at the Spitfires organization have been looking for answers as to why attendance has consistently dropped each year by 300-to-400 over the last four-and-a-half seasons.
“We haven’t had a lot of playoff success, and that’s got a lot to do with it. There’s a lot of factors involved here,” he explains. “We obviously understand that there’s a high unemployment rate in Windsor, but we are expecting more walk-ups. I think fans should come out and support the boys. They’ve been playing great.”
The Spits haven’t won a playoff game since being bounced from the OHL’s Western Conference Final in 2011, but 63 points so far this season is good for fourth-best in the league.
Rychel is hoping that the current, young, NHL-bound team core can create more consistency for the coming years.
“Fans, especially in Windsor, they identify players and identify winning and everyone likes a winner,” he says. “You need good players to win, you need good coaching, you need good everything. So, all of those things come together and I think you’ll see the fans starting to come back in droves.”
The GM believes there are three players on the roster who could be first round picks in this year’s NHL draft: Logan Brown, Logan Stanley and Mikhail Sergachev. In fact, all three now rank in the NHL Central Scouting’s top 25 North American skaters. The team also boasts four players already claimed by pro teams and surprising rookies like Gabe Vilardi and Mike DiPietro in net.
With a population of more than 300,000 in Windsor-Essex, Rychel is optimistic that this attendance problem can work itself out.