Low college hockey attendance raises concern

Sub-part college hockey attendance is a reason for concern at the Times Union Center.
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Times Union Center general manager Bob Belber loves having college hockey events in his building, but he would like to see more people in the seats.

Attendance for last weekend’s ECAC Hockey tournament final four and this weekend’s NCAA hockey tournament East Regional wasn’t good. The total attendance for the ECACH tournament was 9,925, including 4,851 for the championship game between Harvard and Princeton.

Friday’s East Regional semi­finals session drew 4,175, including 135 suite tickets. Saturday’s championship game, between Michigan and Clarkson, two teams with great fan bases, attracted 4,301.

The last time the East Regionals were here two years ago, the announced attendance for the two sessions was 9,532. Those games were played on a Saturday and Sunday, compared to this year’s Friday-Saturday setup.

Belber said the numbers for the 2006 weekend, which featured Harvard, Maine, Michigan State and New Hampshire, were act­ually lower.

“The total number, including suites, was 4,443 for the first session,” Belber said prior to Saturday’s game. “The second session, when everything was done, was 3,848. That went down last time because of the teams and fan bases that were left.”

Having Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Union playing in the tourneys certainly would help attendance. But Belber would also like to involve the area’s youth and high school hockey programs, and have them play some games on the TU Center ice. The ECACH already has a youth tournament during its championships.

One aspect Belber plans to discuss with the NCAA is the ticket policy. He doesn’t believe fans should be forced to buy all-session passes, especially if their team is eliminated in the semifinals.

The costs for this weekend’s games at the TU Center were $82 for adults and $76 for students for all-sessions passes. Single-session passes were $46 for adults, and $44 for students.

“The problem is, without the consolation game [which the ECACH has], there’s absolutely no incentive for fan in Clarkson or any other home base to buy an all-session ticket and, if your team loses, find a way to resell the ticket themselves, they don’t want to have to do that,” Belber said. “They’d rather drive down, buy the one session. If they win, they buy the second session. If they lose, they go home.”

ALL-TOURNEY TEAM

Michigan placed four players on the all-regional team.

The Wolverines had forwards Kevin Porter, who was also named most outstanding player, and Chad Kolarik, defenseman Mark Mitera and goalie Billy Sauer.

Clarkson had two players made the team, forward Shea Guthrie and defenseman Grant Clitsome.

BREAKS JINX

Michigan coach Red Berenson finally had success in the TU Center.

In three previous trips to the building, Berenson’s Wolverines went 1-3. Two of those losses were in the Frozen Four semifinals

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