'Canes May Turn Profit As Team Heads Into Playoffs
Posted April 20, 2006 9:48 a.m. EDT
RALEIGH, N.C. — This time last year, there was no ice, no contract, no games, and little hope for a hockey comeback. This year, NHL and Carolina Hurricanes fans made up for a season lost.
Game attendance was up 2.4 percent from the 2003-2004 hockey season. On average, nearly 17,000 fans came out for every NHL game. As for the 'Canes, fan attendance was up 27 percent since last season -- second best in the league.
The Carolina Hurricanes had the best regular season in franchise history. They put more fans in the stands than any regular season in franchise history. Now the team's bottom line could be the best in franchise history.
Fans buying playoff tickets at the RBC Center box office said they hope the 'Canes go to the Stanley Cup finals for the second time. But from a business and financial standpoint, the team may hit a very important first along the way.
"We have a team that has a chance of going deep into the playoffs, and if we can go deep into the playoffs, for the first time since (Peter) Karmanos has owned the team, we can break even or turn a little profit," said Hurricanes General Manager Jim Rutherford.
Since coming to North Carolina in 1997, the Hurricanes have lost millions every year. The worst loss was a $20 million setback. Fans snapping up playoff tickets said they understand the value of profit and Hurricanes on the same line.
"When they make a profit, I think that further justifies their decision to relocate to Raleigh and shows that this area can support a pro team," said fan Mark Molinaro.
Turning a profit also checks the talk of the Hurricanes blowing out of town.
"The people that talked about us not staying here were misinformed," said Rutherford. "You always have those naysayers out there regardless of what you do or how well you're doing it, they're going to pick on certain things."
The 'Canes are proof that the profit model in pro-sports often comes down to one word -- win. The playoffs begin Saturday at 7 p.m. when the Hurricanes face the Montreal Canadiens. There are some tickets left; but for those who cannot make it, it will be televised on Fox Sports South.