What is the consensus of those teams that went from pros to junior teams??? My sense is it is not going as well as some would have hoped-had a friend who was at Fresno game last night and said there could not have been more than a hundred poeple at game, even though they showed a paid att of 1500- how about New Mexico, Amarillo, Corpus Christi, Port Huron, Muskegon just to name a few???
I would say that it is kind of all over the boards when it comes to the transition. You really have to take each one on a case-by-case basis.
New Mexico- average attendance is 812 and they are in last place in a very strong division. I think attendance is down due to the fact that New Mexico was without a team for a year so there wasn't a smooth transition from one level to the next and it is in an area where hockey is not a marquee sport. If the Mustangs start becoming active in the community and get positive exposure attendance will increase.
Amarillo- the numbers are gradually increasing as far as support, with time the Bulls will truly become the new face of hockey in Amarillo.
Corpus Christi- The IceRays are truly the example of how to transition a town from "pro hockey" to junior hockey. Other than retaining the coach from the CHL days, Corpus Christi has shown that junior hockey can be successful in a former CHL market. I think part of this is from keeping the previous name. Average attendance in Corpus Christi has actually increased from last year to this year, now that may just be creative accounting but I think that it is the truth.
Port Huron- the team has an owner that believes in the town and the team. This is key to building a good program. With time you will see attendance increase as more people become used to the idea. The team has to build a positive relationship with the town and educate the fan base as to what junior hockey really is. The team has struggled due to the fact that they came into the league so late, I think that they should have waited a season to allow for
proper recruiting and to actually be able to draft players.
Fresno- I think that this could almost be due to hockey overload. The area is trying to support both NAHL and WSHL hockey and I almost wonder if they haven't stretched themselves too thin. They are also in a division where they don't have any real close geographic rivals.
As far as Muskegon I really can't tell you because I haven't been following the USHL closely enough this year.