Despite struggles on the ice and some attendance issues, the ownership of the Norfolk Admirals says that it believes that the franchise will rebound.
Prior to this season, the ECHL franchise was sold to the Mango Media Group by the Edmonton Oilers, the team’s NHL affiliate. The Oilers returned professional hockey to Norfolk by relocating the Bakersfield Condors to the Norfolk Scope, where the ECHL Admirals took the place of an AHL franchise that was moved to San Diego.
Two seasons into their ECHL stint, the Admirals are posting less than stellar attendance, with current attendance figures showing an average of 2,366 fans through 15 home games. The team’s performance on the ice seems to be a major source frustration, as the Admirals are currently last in the seven-team ECHL South.
For their part, officials from Mango say that they are planning to keep the Admirals in Norfolk and improve their attendance situation. A potential affiliation change is in the offing, and club officials, including president Mike Santos and Mango Media head Ardon Wiener have their sights on turning things around. More from The Virginian Pilot:
Wiener guaranteed the team will be in Norfolk next year, adding, “All I’m looking for is steady growth. I’m not expecting next season to be 5,000 a night, 6,000 a night. Eventually, I’d love to average a crowd like” the 3,007 for last Friday’s game against South Carolina.
He defines success this way: “On the ice and in business … Success on the ice, let’s say start by making the playoffs. … Business success, the team lost significant money last year and will likely lose significant money this year. I’ll call it a success if we can get it to break-even.”
Pressed for a timeline, he responded, “I’d say within 2-3 seasons. This is not going to happen overnight.”
To push toward that business goal, the Admirals are adding marketing people to court group ticket sales and lure advertisers back.
Various incarnations of the Admirals have played at the Norfolk Scope for decades. The ECHL’s Hampton Roads Admirals occupied the venue from 1989-2000, and were immediately followed by the AHL Admirals, who lasted in Norfolk through the 2015-16 season.