Caps, Skipjacks playing to more empty seats Notebook

Home attendance for the Washington Capitals is down from last season, but it's nothing to be concerned about, said Lew Strudler, vice president for marketing.

"All things considered, we're doing fine," said Strudler. "We've had to work harder than ever this year, but we are pleased. The attendance has been high and has been consistent."


Last season, the Capitals set a club attendance record of

TC 690,023, an average of 17,251, for 40 Capital Centre games. This season, after 28 games, the team has drawn 456,972, an average of 16,320. The attendance is down an average of 716.


Strudler said season-ticket sales dropped about 500 from last season, partly because of the economy and the war in the Persian Gulf.

"You'd be surprised at the number of people with partial ticket plans that are members of the military in this area, and also the number of people who work for the government," he said. "We lost on these partial plans because people didn't know where they would be or if they could continue to afford them."

With more than 17,000 for their past two home games, and with only about 1,000 tickets left for the next two, things are looking up.


The Baltimore Skipjacks, the Capitals' American Hockey League farm club, also is down in attendance, drawing 98,829, an average of 3,209, for 30 games at home. This is 6,823 fewer (227 a game) than last season, when the Skipjacks had drawn 105,652.

"Everyone is down in attendance," said Jim Riggs, Skipjacks vice president of communications and assistant general manager. "I think there are three reasons -- the state of the economy, the war in the Persian Gulf and the fact that we have 19 schedule conflicts with the Capitals."

What are the Skipjacks doing to try and stem their attendance decline?

"We're trying to better separate the schedules of the Skipjacks and Capitals in the future," Riggs said. "Also, we have better television exposure this year than ever -- a weekly Skipjacks show on cable TV and more ads on the local channels. Our promotional giveaway nights the rest of the season are being targeted for better nights -- Fridays and Saturdays -- and we are trying to put a greater emphasis on group sales."


The crowd of 7,594 Friday against the Rochester Americans was the Skipjacks' second largest this season and seventh-largest in Skipjacks history.

Baltimore goalie Jim Hrivnak has been suspended for one game because of the match penalty he received in Sunday's game with Hershey when he left the crease and attacked Bears goalie Dominic Roussel.

To replace Hrivnak for tonight's game against the Halifax Citadels here, goalie Olaf Kolzig has been recalled from the Hampton Roads Admirals of the ECHL.