As I've explained to some in the Canadian media before, the Panthers struggle to put fannies in the seats for various reasons. First off, the team hasn't been real good during this decade. Winning, I think, will cure a lot of ills.
But another thing hampering the Panthers are their good friends down the road.
Stand up and make some noise for your Miami Heat.
The NBA schedule came out the other day, and according to Steve's calculations (which check out), there are 11 conflicts between the two franchises. That means on 11 nights, the Heat will be playing in Miami at the same time the Panthers are playing in Sunrise.
In this economy, cannibalization isn't good for either team. The team that is winning at the time will probably draw more fans. That's the nature of this market.
And there are matchup deals as well (the Heat's opening night will be a sellout on Oct. 28; the Panthers will struggle to put 12,000 in The Billboard when the Senators pay a visit that night).
When the Panthers are winning, this isn't really an issue. And some within the Panthers feel there are basketball fans and there are hockey fans and rarely do the two mix. But there are a lot of casual fans in this market, ones who will give hockey a try. But many of those casual fans will take the Heat right now for various reasons. And you hate to make the few fans in this market who actually go to the games make a choice between one or the other. And that's going to happen 11 times this season.
I'm not making any excuses for the Panthers attendance; they got a new arena on the edge of the Everglades when the truth is, this area doesn't need multiple arenas. But, the Panthers have an added challenge in bringing in fans, one most other NHL teams don't have to worry about. Do the Flyers care who the 76ers are playing at home on a Saturday night? No, because the Flyers are on the road and don't have a single ticket to sell that night.
-- Here is what the Panthers face when it comes to local competition: Of the 30 NHL teams, 16 share a market (not counting the Islanders but counting the Sharks/Warriors) with an NBA team. Of those 16 teams, all but five share an arena with said NBA team.
The teams: Heat/Panthers; Pistons/Red Wings; Warriors/Sharks; Suns/Coyotes; Wolves/Wild.
Of these five teams, the NHL team is preeminent in three of those markets.
Then you have the Panthers and the Coyotes, teams struggling to gain market share in a very competitive entertainment market. Having to go head-to-head with the more established NBA franchise doesn't help.
And there's not much either can do. The Panthers and the Heat don't talk about who is playing when; both teams want to play on the weekends, and since they don't compete against each other for the building (like in almost every other NHL city) they can do what they please. Of Miami's 11 conflicts between hockey and hoops, seven of those games fall on a weekend.
FYI: The Coyotes and Suns play at home on the same nights eight times.
-- Here is a list of the Heat-Panthers home conflicts and one's guess on which team gets the win attendance-wise:
October 28 – Heat vs. Knicks (opening night); Panthers vs. Senators. HEAT
November 6 – Heat vs. Nuggets; Panthers vs. Capitals. EVEN
November 14 – Heat vs. Nets; Panthers vs. Islanders. HEAT
November 27 – Heat vs. Wizards; Panthers vs. Maple Leafs. PANTHERS
December 27 – Heat vs. Pacers; Panthers vs. Bruins. EVEN (both will be hurting as Dolphins play Texans)
January 23 – Heat vs. Kings; Panthers vs. Maple Leafs. PANTHERS
February 1 – Heat vs. Bucks; Panthers vs. Ducks. HEAT
March 6 – Heat vs. Hawks; Panthers vs. Hurricanes. HEAT
March 16 – Heat vs. Spurs; Panthers vs. Capitals. EVEN
March 18 – Heat vs. Magic; Panthers vs. Coyotes. HEAT
March 20 – Heat vs. Bobcats; Panthers vs. Sabres. HEAT
Have to give the Heat the edge in most of the matchups because it has a higher season ticket holder base. So when both teams play a team with limited local draw, the Heat are going to draw more. Unless they stink.
-- FYI: Nothing new on Alex Tanguay. Thought I should update everyone.
-- In other obvious news, Maury is doing DNA testing today.