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Battalion attendance suffers drop

NORTH BAY, Ont. – The North Bay Battalion drew 88,433 fans to 34 home games in its 2016-17 Ontario Hockey League season that ended Sunday without a playoff berth, representing an average of 2,601 per game.

Total attendance was down 21.8 percent from 113,117, or 3,327 per game, last season.

In 2013-14, the Troops’ first campaign in North Bay after 15 years in Brampton, the club drew 114,437, an average of 3,366 per game. The franchise record for attendance was set in 2014-15 at 117,195, or 3,447 a game.

The largest crowd this season was 3,279 for a 3-2 overtime loss to the Sudbury Wolves on Dec. 29. The second-biggest was 3,080 for the schedule opener Sept. 23 against the Niagara IceDogs, who won 3-1, and the third-largest, at 3,019, saw a 4-0 victory over Sudbury on March 16.

With the Battalion playing its fourth year in the Gateway of the North, season tickets were down after the expiration of the three-year period for which fans were asked to sign up as the franchise relocated.

“We recognize that there’s work to be done in growing attendance back to previous levels,” said Battalion owner Scott Abbott. “The team endured a disappointing season on the ice and missed the playoffs in North Bay for the first time, but the issues influencing attendance go far beyond that and include a difficult economic climate of which we’re well aware.”

Club president Mike Griffin said, “We thank and appreciate the terrific fans and sponsors who continue to support us.”

Attendance in the final season at Brampton was 74,496, an average of 2,191 a game, while the record attendance at Brampton was 92,962, or 2,734 a game, in 2005-06.

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