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02-12-2013, 06:49 PM
  #111
MachoDiablo
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It's been a discussion in a number of places, but it's certainly a combination of factors that have helped us out this year, though I think if people were paying attention they saw signs of it before the Final run, too.

First off, beginning the year before the short MacLean era, it's clear the Devils began a very concerted effort to begin targeting new prospective season ticket holders. It's clearly been a success: the typical math you hear from people in the ticket office is that in an average year you lose and gain 1,000 season ticket holders, and for three years running now we've been hearing about 2,000+ STH's being added a year.

As others have said, this has in large part been a matter of people in approximately the 21-30 age bracket being added to the ranks as more of us get into careers and gain some disposable income, or have children that we want to see exposed to the sport. Given how young the Devils' fanbase largely is (personally, I was 10 when we won in 1995), this is simple demographics.

But credit to the Devils for working hard to target prospective fans, and credit to the Rock and Newark for continually evolving into a great place to watch a game, grab a beer, have dinner, etc.

As for the 143% increase in ratings, you have to figure a big part of that is that, yes, after a Final run and after beating Philly and the Rags in the playoffs we likely gained a bit of a bandwagon, but I also think there's some genuine new fans in there who likely didn't follow hockey much before the Eastern Conference Finals last season. Let's face it: the only time hockey really gets coverage in this market is if two of the local teams butt heads in the playoffs, particularly deep in the playoffs, so I don't think it's wrong to guess that we gained some new, real fans after beating the Rags.

The most interesting part of this is how hockey in the area evolves over the long haul. The Rags will always sell games out due to the amount of suits and companies that will buy up tons of seats every season (not insulting their fan base on this front, it's certainly not a negligible one).

But how much can hockey grow as a game within NYC? I know of adult leagues with some very good players on them in Manhattan, but do you hear about a lot of college or high school hockey tournaments in NYC or it's immediate surroundings? Contrast it with New Jersey: how much has hockey grown as a sport in this state since the 80's?

That's what makes this interesting; again, I'm not about to claim we're going to suddenly overtake the Rags as the "sexy" team in this area (they're on top of NY-Penn, for crissakes), but given that hockey as a sport seems to have more room and potential to grow in NJ than it has demonstrated in NYC, does this mean the Devils might wind up having the more passionate fan base as some of us continue to age, have children, see more kids get into youth hockey, etc.?

Obviously remains to be seen, but it's an interesting question to mull over.

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