Plagued by declining attendance, Manchester Monarchs have played last game

Monitor staff
Published: 5/15/2019 2:48:23 PM

After 18 years bringing professional hockey to central New Hampshire, the Manchester Monarchs announced Wednesday that the team will not return for another season.

The organization announced the news in a letter to fans posted on the team’s website.

The Monarchs have been playing at the city’s 10,000-seat arena, currently named SNHU Arena, since it opened in 2001.

“After discussing it with city, state, (the) arena and the L.A. Kings, and seeking investment from other potential buyers, it became clear that ECHL hockey was no longer viable in Manchester,” said Monarchs CEO Brian Cheek in a statement.

The team’s departure raises questions about the arena’s solvency going forward. Aside from Monarchs games, the arena hosts concerts and other year-round events, and has been the site of multiple NCAA hockey regional tournaments.

Tim Bechert, senior general manager of SNHU Arena, told the Associated Press that the arena will begin searching for a new professional team to bring to the city.

The Monarchs were the American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings for their first 14 years in Manchester, giving fans an up-close look at rising stars such as goaltender Jonathan Quick, who went on to win two Vezina trophies as the NHL’s best goalie and two Stanley Cup Championships with the Kings.

In the team’s second and third years in the league, it was first in attendance, topping 9,000 spectators twice during the early 2000s.

In 2015, shortly after the Monarchs won their first and only AHL championship, the Kings moved their affiliate to California. The Monarchs remained in Manchester but the team dropped down to the East Coast Hockey League. This season, the team attracted 2,458 fans, the second worst in the league.

The change in leagues coincided with declining attendance at home games in Manchester.

Average attendance dropped by about 1,000 when the Monarchs ended their AHL run and started in the ECHL. They averaged 5,621 spectators in the 2014-15 season, its last year as an AHL program, according to HockeyDB.com. The next year, its first with the ECHL, the Monarchs drew an average of 4,622 spectators each game.

The Monarchs qualified for the playoffs in each of its four seasons in the ECHL, but even the team’s success couldn’t bring back fans in the droves it once did as an AHL team.

The team recently wrapped its 2018-19 season after falling in the second round of the ECHL playoffs. The Monarchs were 39-29-2-2 in the regular season.

Declining attendance

Year League Att. Rank

2001-02 AHL 8,199 3rd

2002-03 AHL 8,986 1st

2003-04 AHL 9,140 1st

2004-05 AHL 9,052 2nd

2005-06 AHL 8,612 1st

2006-07 AHL 7,593 5th

2007-08 AHL 6,706 7th

2008-09 AHL 5,882 10th

2009-10 AHL 5,293 12th

2010-11 AHL 5,491 13th

2011-12 AHL 5,701 12th

2012-13 AHL 5,706 13th

2013-14 AHL 5,608 13th

2014-15 AHL 5,621 15th

2015-16 ECHL 4,622 11th

2016-17 ECHL 3,580 20th

2017-18 ECHL 2,793 24th

2018-19 ECHL 2,458 26th

Sources: hockeydb.com (AHL), echl.com




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