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The Elephant in the Tank
Not much talk about the dwindling attendance
12/23/22 - By Paul Krill
Remember when the Sharks used to pack the building night after night? Year after year? Those were the good old days. Who knows if they will ever return?

Official attendance at Sharks games (and we all know the actual figures are less) for the past few games has been as follows: 13,128, 10,431, 14,207, 10,462. Capacity is 17,562. The Sharks rank 31st in attendance out of 32 teams. Even the Anaheim Ducks, lower than we are in the standings and sharing a market with the LA Kings, are ahead of us.

So what is going on? I have my theories:

* Many fans have left the expensive Bay Area, perhaps, and new fans have not been developed. (I gave up my season tickets after 30 years, for a move that hasn't happened yet. But I just don't feel like going to the arena 40+ times a year anymore. And selling off tickets for games I didn't want became a growing problem, even selling at a loss.)

* The Sharks' losing record of late has turned off fans.

* Rising prices in recent years have made the games unaffordable.

* The novelty of major professional sports in the South Bay has worn off.

* The Sharks making the playoffs 19 out of 21 years from 1998 to 2019 and never winning the Stanley Cup enabled a "What's the use? This team will never win." feel of resignation to set in.

Maybe you have other theories. But it was no fun watching the Sharks become a league-wide joke over playoff shortcomings. Even comedian Will Ferrell, as "Anchorman" Ron Burgundy, mocked the Sharks for "Zero Stanley Cups!" during a special appearance, in character, at a Kings game in LA. And when the Sharks put the number "30" on the ice, signifying 30 years of the franchise, some mocked that the numbers meant 3 Stanley Cups for California teams, 0 of which were by the Sharks.

Of course, Ferrell and everybody else are within their rights to satirize the Sharks. As Sharks fans, we shouldn't expect pity. But still, being on the receiving end of this stuff stings. At least the playoff shortcomings have been put on hold, for the time being anyway. No playoffs for the Sharks since 2019 and this season doesn't look very promising, either.

But when I see the dwindling attendance, I worry about what the long-term implications are of this. How long can the Sharks continue in San Jose when the games almost resemble old San Jose Rhinos roller hockey games?

As in, stretch out and relax, lay your coat on the empty seat next to you. Enjoy the uncrowded concourses and concession and restroom lines. Don't worry about anyone in the rows in front of you blocking your view because those seats are empty, anyway.

The best cure for all of this could be to start winning again. Maybe a new generation of Sharks players can finally deliver that Stanley Cup parade down Santa Clara Street that hasn't ever happened yet? The Sharks were once the toast of San Jose. They can be again.

Contact Paul at at paulkrill@letsgosharks.com


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