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Attendance at Canadian nationals

Discussion in 'Great Skate Debate' started by sarakimm, Jan 24, 2012.

  1. sarakimm

    sarakimm Member

    Did anyone else notice all the empty seats at Canadian Nationals? If they can't fill the seats in Canada, something is radically wrong. Could it be the incredible price gouging that is going on in figure skating today???
    flutzilla1 and (deleted member) like this.
  2. iggie

    iggie Well-Known Member

    by patrick's skate, the seats filled in nicely.
  3. Rock2

    Rock2 Well-Known Member

    I think the upper deck went unsold for the most part. Lower bowl filled for key finals.

    Moncton's not a large town...maybe 100K ish including outskirts? Closest major towns are over 2 hours away so no regional pop to draw from. Makes it tough.

    I always figure half the audience is related to the event: other skaters, friends, family, media, officials, etc. So the closer you are to larger training centers (BC, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec) the greater the likelihood you get more people attending...applies mostly to everything but Mens and Dance free programs.

    Moncton? Not so much.
  4. sarakimm

    sarakimm Member

    by Patrick's skate??? I watched Virtue & Moir skate past a lot of empty seats and they are Canada's darlings. I expected them to skate in front of a full house!
  5. fsfann

    fsfann Well-Known Member

    The upper levels were completely closed down..

    I don't think the price tag for ticktets was that unreasonable.. $150 for a full pass for the week... and the individual ticket prices were reasonable.. from $25-$40 I think...

    I think the biggest problem is that the culture of today is very much geared to "other things". If you look at numbers, the viewership of all sports events is down... same with TV shows. Lots of people are spending time ont he 'net..not watching TV anymore; and therefore not following sports like they did before. Also - with the live streaming, a lot of people are just staying home to watch the events.

    The other problem with Moncton is - like someone else said - that it is not a huge centre... Halifax is about 2 hrs away, so the nearest "major centre" is still a fair distance, and people who work, would only be able to get there for Saturday...
  6. iggie

    iggie Well-Known Member

    i was too busy watching v/m dance to obsess about the crowds. i watched their fd and there was a nice crowd there too. the short dance was sparse. i went to nationals a few years back and i picked the free dance over the short :shuffle:
  7. Rafter

    Rafter Well-Known Member

    I thought the crowd was pretty good for the FD. It was Friday's attendance that was pathetic.
  8. overedge

    overedge Janny uber

    That could be too much money for people who are unemployed/underemployed. I understand that because of fixed costs the ticket prices can't be adjusted that much for the local market, but even those prices could be out of reach for a lot of people.

  9. Iceman

    Iceman Well-Known Member

    The venue could only hold around 6000 according to what I read. It is hard to believe that there would be empty seats, but it was obvious there were. Is FS skating on its death bed? Maybe, the future is what Evan suggested.
  10. Dave of the North

    Dave of the North Well-Known Member

    Friday attendance was probably 50%? Even by Sat morning there were more people in the place than Friday night.

    Saturday was 92% sold, Sunday was 95% sold according to the paper. (Lower bowl only.) Upper level was blocked off on Friday or Saturday but the blinds were raised on Sunday and there were people sitting there.

    ETA - empty seats - people sometimes like to stand - I did for some of the men. Poeple sat up in the upper bowl. There's always people going to the refreshment stands/washrooms/ whatever. My mother-in-law had an all-event ticket but didn't go to all of it because she gets tired easily.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2012
  11. NorthernDancers

    NorthernDancers Well-Known Member

    Friday attendance was really, really sparse. Saturday was better than I expected, but still really bad. Saturday night for the ridiculous "tournament of champions" was full, but not the upper bowl. Sunday was reasonably well attended. The gala was more like Saturday during the day. The upper level was used mostly by athletes not competing but watching. There weren't a lot of fans there.

    There are a few factors I think:
    - $150 is a lot of money for most people. You have to be a really serious fan to spend that kind of money. To promote the sport to more casual fans, the prices have to be a whole lot lower - like going to a movie or something like that for the different events, and a relevant all event pass.

    - By putting the final flights on Saturday night, Skate Canada pretty much killed their attendance for the day sessions. Only the truly dedicated would pay extra to come to the day sessions. For the casual fan, Saturday night and Sunday were the "must have" tickets. If fans had tickets, they didn't have to really show up until the evening until the real show begins. Sorry, but Skate Canada created 2nd class citizens instead of promoting the development of the sport by their crazy schedule.

    - Moncton is not a big enough centre to hold a national event like this. Victoria was packed to the rafters last year for all Senior events, and half full for Junior. But Vancouver is a ferry ride away, and its a big city. I understand wanting to spread around Nationals to build the sport in regions, but until they can figure out how to get sponsorship, they should hold the event in main centres only. That means: Victoria/Vancouver, Calgary or Edmonton, Southern Ontario (ie. London, Kitchener/Waterloo, Hamilton/Burlington, Mississauga/Toronto/Brampton, Ottawa), Montreal or Quebec City, and maybe Halifax.
  12. lise

    lise Well-Known Member

    Winnipeg was sold out as well. There's no reason why we can't bid for the event.
  13. Dave of the North

    Dave of the North Well-Known Member

    To me it seemed it was fuller on Sat afternoon than any other time (men's SP). I think Chan was the number one draw for this event.
  14. Scrufflet

    Scrufflet Well-Known Member

    I was really disappointed to see all those empty seats too. I wonder how it affects the skaters.
    Some strong arguments posted here as to why. I'd love to see a Nationals in Toronto but I don't believe it has ever happened. They probably couldn't get the Air Canada Centre (too big and booked with other things) but why not try for Ricoh or Hershey?
  15. yfbg722

    yfbg722 Active Member

    I suspect Toronto is usually out because Challenge was held in Mississauga for so many years. It's rumoured that Challenge will be returning to Mississauga next year btw.

    Nationals are awarded by bid so basically any city may submit a proposal if they wish to hold Nationals and then Skate Canada evaluates the bids and chooses the best one from those received.

    Here is a link to the bid process information:


    According to the above link, the winning bid for 2012 Nationals will be announced in May.
  16. NorthernDancers

    NorthernDancers Well-Known Member


    Interesting! That would be good news for many athletes, I'm sure. It's way cheaper and easier to fly through Toronto than other cities. And a large proportion of athletes will be able to drive. And Mississauga pulls in a pretty good fan base relatively speaking, even for Challenge.

    And Canadians? We haven't seen it in Quebec for a long time. And maybe Ottawa? I'm not against Winnipeg if there is enough support to actually put bottoms in the seats. Any possibility of Niagara Falls? There are lots of sights to see there for athletes and visitors, and lots of great hotels. Moncton was super friendly, and there were signs about the event everywhere, and the local paper had fantastic coverage, but they just don't have the population to support this event.
  17. JasperBoy

    JasperBoy Aging in a great place

    Yes, the coverage in the Moncton newspaper was the best I have ever seen. There can be no excuses about the event not being covered, because there were pages of photos and many articles on different aspects of the event. This went on every day, starting with Juniors AFAIK. I wasn't there to see any Novice coverage.

    Out of towners made sure the local media were aware that they had done an excellent job. In fact, the best I have ever seen in a Canadian city.
  18. kylet3

    kylet3 Well-Known Member

    I wish we had that kind of coverage in Edmonton, just little blips in one paper and ZERO coverage in the Sun. :mad: I was stunned. 7 Pages of NFL but not one of the biggest events on the Canadian Sporting Calendar. Far too much focus on the professional sports and not enough on the amateur level sports.
  19. kalamalka

    kalamalka Well-Known Member

    As with others, I don't think ticket prices are the issue - Canadians are still quite reasonably priced, esp for the amount and quality of skating you get to see. Major factors would be the location (not a major population centre, relatively hard and expensive to get to, weather risks to travel this time of year, not a tourist destination either, and the arena isn't convenient to hotels); GPF in QC this season - and in fact Skate Canada in central Canada as well, so people who would only go to one event a year already had 2 options (plus there's 4CC in NA this year as well, and only 3 weeks later).

    I had intended to go, but airfare would have been almost $1000, hotels are surprisingly expensive for a relatively small city, transportation to the rink was iffy, and 4CC is much closer to home and better timing in relation to work and other commitments - plus 2 vacation periods so close together would not go over well.

    I wish that someone could creatively market/raise awareness of the novice/junior competitions so that the kids skating would have more of an audience (and more locals could see skating without a major investment - it's so cheap, and the quality of a lot of the skating is very high. It would be nice if they would bring in some of the school groups on those days as well. The top skaters are those who will be on TV in a year or 2 in the last flight, or competing internationally.

  20. Bailey_

    Bailey_ Guest

    I was very happy that Moncton had the chance to host a national championship again -- I do believe that it is important to go to communities across the country such that not all events are held in southern Ontario. But, I was disappointed to see a poor attendance for the championship. And, ticket prices are very reasonable for nationals. I actually question the marketing for some of these events -- from past experience, it doesn't seem to me that Skate Canada does a particularly excellent job getting the message out to non-skating fans who may want to attend some events, but may not know that the event is occurring. Just my hunch...
  21. luna_skater

    luna_skater Well-Known Member

    I agree with this. $150 is dirt cheap for an event like this that lasts an entire week. I've paid that to go to a concert that lasts a few hours. I think the location itself was the bigger issue. I do like when Canadians moves around so smaller centers get to experience elite skating, but it's to be expected that the crowds will be smaller because it's a difficult location for spectators to get to.
  22. Parsley Sage

    Parsley Sage Well-Known Member

    Hershey Centre would probably be available and has the bonus of a 2nd ice surface in the building and another one adjacent.

    Ricoh has a few long standing events that are held there in January, including a boat show where they build an indoor lake on the ice rink. The facility might not be available.
  23. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

    There's also the issue of who actually wants an event. As I understand it, SC relies heavily on local clubs to do a lot of groundwork and provide lots of volunteers, and given that sponsorship revenue appears to be down to near nothing, there might also be extra expense for the local clubs and the venue to take on themselves.
  24. luna_skater

    luna_skater Well-Known Member

    There's a huge synchro competition called Winterfest held at Hershey every year in January, and the past two years (at least) it's been held right before Nationals. It's also the World Qualifier for junior synchro teams.
  25. overedge

    overedge Janny uber

    It's not dirt cheap if you don't have a lot of disposable income.

    I appreciate that this amount is reasonable in terms of how much you get for it, but I think people are confusing that with the ability of potential ticket buyers to actually come up with the money to pay that amount. The unemployment rate in the Moncton area is around 8%, and although I haven't been able to find any figures on underemployment (e.g. working multiple part-time jobs because a full-time job isn't available), people in those sorts of financial circumstances might not have a lot of spare cash to spend on anything, much less figure skating tickets.
  26. skategal

    skategal Bunny slave

    I live in NS and I think Moncton was counting on Halifax to travel over and fill seats. Problem is that there was almost no marketing here about the event. The only thing I saw was some ads during the GPF. Considering the GPF was a couple of weeks before Christmas, I'd really doubt anyone except the die-hard fans watched it and knew that Nationals were in Moncton.

    99% of what I learned about how to get tickets etc for Moncton nationals was from FSU.
  27. pamela95

    pamela95 Selling seashells by the seashore

    skategal, I too got all of my ticket info from FSU. Without the board, I probably wouldn't have even known that Canadians was going to be in Moncton until I saw the commercials during the GPF.

    One thing I have to say is that the weather was not great Friday. I left for Moncton in the afternoon (I'm about an hour and a half away) and there was a lot of blowing snow and slippery (then again, I had to go over the marshes...). Apparently the drive between Halifax and New Brunswick was hellish and full of car accidents that day. I'm not surprised that very few people from Halifax made the trip on Friday.

    I also think that splitting the was a big problem. As stated, many people didn't bother coming for the morning sessions because most people have never heard of the skaters who were skating and therefor didn't care enough to come. By the afternoon, the arena was pretty well full.
  28. Seerek

    Seerek Well-Known Member

    Where were the 1992 National Championships held? Moncton Coliseum as well? Wonder how the attendance compares to even 20 years ago in the same city
  29. Debrah

    Debrah Well-Known Member

    It's not the cost of the event tickets, so much as ease of travel issues -- getting time off right after XMAS holidays esp in height of an unpredictable CDN winter, and then the actual costs of travel plus hotel, meals, also the distance between hotel and rink etc., as even taxi costs to and from hotel/rink/restaurants can all start to add up. Air travel is no longer much fun, more something to be endured to get where you are going esp these post 9 11 days.

    As an older single lady often travelling alone to a skating event (one with some mobility/health issues) even if one meets up with friends at the rink, oftentimes these friends are not staying at same hotel; thus safety may also become an issue; esp late at night after the event is over. That's why I love the gateway cities like Halifax where you can still get last minute airfare deals, plus bonus of ability to even walk inside sheltered from inclement weather, tween hotels and the rink or Bars/restaurants/shopping areas; it's all very convenient and a whole lot safer to do, esp when you are a women travelling alone or with a child or teen as a lot of skating fans do! Sometimes one's roomate, or FSU rink friends don't always keep the same schedules, or stay at same hotels, or friends come from different areas of the world so one does not travel with them you only meet them at the event. Such things are not so much an issue if one drives to event, but if one flies solo, or comes by other means these things can be an issue, so one prefers a decent hotel with a restaurant, hopefully close to the rink, or one that offers free or low cost transport to the rink... I looked into Moncton about a week before the event, but by then I could not book a room at the hotel where most of my friends were staying, and the price of last minute airfare was ridiculous and if there was a snow/ice storm I would not get the money back so I would have to hope that weather would co-operate. Alternatively a train ride would be over 16 hours each way, and likely cost more than airfare would not to mention the day I wanted to travel there was no train going to Moncton, so I and the friend I had willing to go with me at last minute just kinda gave up on the whole idea of going much as we both wanted to attend.

    When one is older and not everyone in one's family is in great health, one can't always plan trips 6 months in advance, so gateway cities with plenty of hotel options are preferred by this skating fan, esp if one can then make a last minute decision and fate allows you to get all ducks in a row. While I am maybe willing to spend $2-3000 or more to go to Halifax, Quebec City, Vancouver, Toronto, but spending big bucks and only getting to experience Moncton in January? No. don't think so...If I have to spend that much money then GP events were, or 4cc or Worlds this year are a much better bang for my loonie... So while I agree in principle it may be good to spread the weath and important to offer smaller or "off the beaten path communities" skating events once in awhile, one should then market the specific event to area locals (plus count on giving away large blocks of tickets to area schools and businesses to promote skating and try to attract new or more casual fans to the sport and if you DO want an audience esp in a place like Moncton that is not a hotbed for skating, then at least schedule the novice/junior events to happen when the work/school day is over during the week) or do not count on big or even normal level of attendance. Family/friends of competing athlete's and skating fans who normally opt to drive to Nationals esp when held in the Toronto/Montreal/Ottawa corridor, or even the Western corridor, most likely many of these types of fans won't actually attend a far away nationals that they must shell out big air travel dollars to get to, and certainly not in depressed economic times.

    Know your audience skate Canada and plan the event accordingly. It's not a problem in a big urban centre, or a hotbed skating area, as people may be more willing to take a holiday or a few hours off from work in order to attend daily scheduled events, esp if they can save some money and drive/bus/taxi to them, but places like Moncton should be reserved for Oct-early December skating events, NOT mid January, unless they have a local skater the casual public can rally behind competing in the event and local publicity machine co-operates to drum up some interest in the weeks before the event.

    I would have had the event ambassor - Shawn Sawyer out doing local radio/TV spots or doing shopping mall Autograph sessions or maybe doing appearances at high school assemblies with some local skater's, or even former area skater's who may still have some name recognition with the public - perhaps giving away a few tickets to pull in a crowd, or create some buzz for the event a few weeks before the scheduled competition, not just the week of, as it's too late by then to getting people into seats.

    Certainly any skating schools in the area should also become involved with getting the word out -one way would be to have some if not all of these local skater's involved in the opening ceremonies somehow, so that their friends and families would come out to watch and support them and then those who show up would be given a free ticket to a novice or junior event and then perhaps be interested enough to come back and pay to watch some of the senior competition.

    I would also create local buzz and interest by a kind of media stunt where a fan holding a ticket attending the event upon arrival at the rink is also given the option of "adopting" a specific competing athelete, or a team, say from the novice and junior ranks or even senior competitors but limited to those NOT on the national team yet - these in person fans are given an information package brochure (kind of like the ISU BIO page, but also with a color photo of the skater/team for say $2 fee to cover the printing costs and after the events ends, say for another $3 the fan gets say a 5 min meet and greet the opportunity perhaps to take a picture with your actual adoptee, or alternatively a button or event pin that you can wear to show that you are part of the "adopt a skater program" - this creates a personal or emotional link that can keep the fan interested in following the adopted skater's developing career and may contribute to keeping that fan interested in the sport of skating... ) I like the idea that the adoptee information package is a random choice the fan pulls from a hat, or a drum they spin or a roll of the dice etc, so the fan has no idea of who they are adopting till the brochure is opened and the lucky chosen skater or team is revealed! Having a vested interest in how your "adoptee" skates, also makes watching the whole event more interesting/exciting...A snail mail or even an E-mail pay pal version of this "adopt" a skater idea could also be considered to raise interest in the sport, or raise funds for atheletes trusts, training costs etc.. So much more should be done to get the word out, one can't simply depend on the sports stars like Chan or Virtue and Moir to draw in a crowd these days as unlike the hey day of skating when there were skating specials and pro/am competitions almost every week or several different skating tours operating to keep figure skating in people's minds, there are only a handful of skating events over an entire season these days.
  30. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

    Lots of great ideas Debrah. My fear is that SC operates on a small staff and knows little about how to work the local markets, and relies heavily on the local clubs to do the job. But they're all volunteers, likely lacking time and the marketing savvy to handle the job.

    I don't know how much the venues can contribute to the mix, but I imagine they expect whoever uses the arena to do the job, whether it's a concert or sporting event. A local media partner can do a lot, but if you aren't feeding them interesting stories that mean something locally during the ticket buying period, then there's only so much they will do.

    I think losing BMO as a sponsor has to have had a huge effect too - aside from less dollars to spend, they no longer have their network of branches and advertising to spread the word. I remember when my local branch would have posters about upcoming events, even when they were in another city altogether.