Sheffield Steelers target 5,500 crowd average

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Tony Smith is targeting a 5,500 average gate at Sheffield Steelers next season.

Crowds dipped last season when the club suffered form dips under former coach Doug Christiansen.

But the numbers were re-vitalised thanks to the victorious Play Off campaign and the response of the team to the incoming manager, Gerad Adams.

Overall, the average attendance for the season at the Arena was 4,800.

Smith, the Steelers’ owner, said: “We recovered a ground in the last six or seven weeks, when ‘neutral’ fans who can take or leave the sport started to come back. It made a difference, we had 6,200 for the Play Off with Coventry Blaze which was unusual for a match against them.”

Steelers won 6-1 that night, going on to beat Braehead Clan and then Belfast Giants in the Play Off final.

“Season ticket sales are slightly up on this time last year thanks partly to winning that trophy and, I believe, also what we had to do on February 13 (the release of Christiansen.) We’d had a pretty disastrous season to that point but then saw a return of a feelgood factor. We will be looking towards 5,500 average next season. And if some of the moves we are making (new players) come to fruition, that should help.”

Smith has given fans an assurance that there will be no budget cuts for the 2014-15 campaign.

He believes his club were behind Belfast and Nottingham Panthers last year in expenditure although he said it is difficult to be definite.

“There is no wage cap any more, that was scrapped because clubs were not adhering to it. Everybody’s budget is supposed to be sensibly in line with each club’s own specific business.”

Steelers fans may have to watch some of their hockey on Fridays next season. TV company Premier Sports wants to broadcast live on those nights. “It is hard to say whether we’d benefit for that, but it would certainly mean more exposure” said Smith, who wouldn’t be persuaded to say whether he was in favour or not.