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Guelph Storm sets new attendance record

Average attendance of 4,704 sets new benchmark for the team
Guelph Storm captain Braeden Bowman points back to a teammate after scoring against the Owen Sound Attack at the Sleeman Centre earlier this year.

It's been a successful season in the stands for the Guelph Storm.

The team’s average attendance hit a new benchmark of 4,704 fans this year.

“We’re ecstatic,” the team’s vice-president, business operations Matt Newby said. “I think the one push that our new ownership had when they got in here, they wanted to see the building full, not from a revenue thing but just strictly from an atmosphere.”

As the team prepares for the playoffs, with two road games left in the regular season, Newby said 29 of the team's 34 home games this season were either sellouts or standing room only.

It’s been a steady climb since COVID. The 2019-20 season, the team averaged 4,130 fans a game.

In 2021-22 – a season mired in COVID restrictions, including a month where no fans were allowed to attend games in Ontario – the average dropped to approximately 3,192.

Last season, the average rose up to 4,458.

“I think we were on our way (with our attendance numbers) pre-COVID,” Newby said, adding the team did learn some things through the pandemic.

One of those things turned into the development of a new refund model for season ticket holders, allowing them the ability to miss games without worrying about losing money.

Newby said it was a driving force for growing the season ticket base.

“Which is strange because I don’t think a lot of people think (positively) about their business through COVID, and we were really crushed going through it as a business,” he said.

“Our ownership at the time didn’t lay anybody off, but everything started up again, and we were able to hit the ground running.”

He added there are still teams in the OHL trying to get back to pre-pandemic levels.

But in Guelph, the fans are coming out in droves. The 4,704 average is fourth in the OHL as of Friday morning according to figures on, which Newby says are considered accurate. Only London, Kitchener and Oshawa are ahead of that mark.

“It’s nice to have the building full,” Newby said. “But from an ownership standpoint, a business standpoint, it’s more about these players who worked their butts off all year, it’s making sure they’re recognized with a full building.”

League officials were at the Sleeman Centre Thursday night to take in the atmosphere and game presentation.

“It’s always the biggest compliment that we have,” he said. “That people want to see what we’re doing, and in some ways learn from what we’re doing and share ideas.”

Those league officials took in a 5-3 win for the home side over Owen Sound.

Guelph had a 20-11-3 record at the Sleeman Centre this year. Playoff dates have not yet known.

Their first-round opponent has yet to be determined. Guelph and Erie are tied for fifth in the Western Conference.

Single-game playoff tickets go on sale Monday at 11 a.m.


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Mark Pare

About the Author: Mark Pare

Originally from Timmins, ON, Mark is a longtime journalist and broadcaster, who has worked in several Ontario markets.
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