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Portland Winterhawks: “Daylight Classics” Good for Business, Good for Record

Thursday, February 18, 2016


With children and many offices closed on Presidents’ Day, the Portland Winterhawks were savvy enough to turn the traditionally stagnant Monday game into a crowd pleaser. Not only did the Hawks pull a 2-1 squeaker in overtime against the Victoria Royals, they also drew 6,723 fans into Veterans Memorial Coliseum by promoting the game as a “Daylight Classic,” one of three this season where the curtains of the arena are opened to let natural light in. The game was sponsored in part by Bank of America.

Since 2012, at least one of these afternoon games has been sponsored by Burgerville every season with a promotional gift card to the restaurant chain available with tickets. The games are also frequently paired with various charity events such as the “Keep Portland Warm” donation opportunity initiated by the Portland Police Bureau’s Sunshine Division. The games have brought a lot of goodwill for the organization, and the attendance on Monday is a strong indication that they are appreciated by local puck fans.

The first daylight game this season was on the Saturday following Thanksgiving, November 28. It drew 7,150 people into the less popular VMC (with games at the Moda Center regularly drawing between 7,500 and 10,000). To compare, a typical Wednesday night game in the old building has drawn as few as 4,384 fans against a regular US Division opponent like the Tri-City Americans. Some Friday night games in the VMC do even less business than that. By booking a holiday wherein many parents may have stayed home to attend their kids, the Daylight Classic offered a low price family outing and scored big.

The Winterhawks have also benefited from these games on the scoresheet. Portland has won three of their last four Daylight Classics, and this most recent win against Victoria is a major boon putting them in prime position for the wildcard slot. The Hawks are clenched to the bottom rung of the upcoming playoffs, and the Royals have over a 14% win percentage while playing in the much more competitive B.C. Division. Victoria has three wins over Portland this season alone. Could it be possible the Hawks benefited from the sunlight?

Correlation is not direct cause, but it’s certainly one factor of many. Having the same size crowd as a typical Saturday night game cheering them on, playing in the smaller and louder arena intimidating the opposition, and Victoria being caught in the middle of a US-centered road trip all attributed as well. But with these daylight games, not only is the organization drawing crowds and proving one major advantage of the ever-imperiled Memorial Coliseum, they are getting the W. Be sure to see several on next season’s schedule.

Now, the next step is an outdoor game in Providence Park in the dead of winter. Think that would draw a Portland crowd?


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