Jets drawing needed crowds; official expects fan base to grow
Bill McCoshen, president, said attendance has averaged 693. When McCoshen was working to bring the junior A hockey team here, he said an attendance of 700 was needed.
He expects that number to increase as the team enters the traditional hockey season.
"Obviously, we're pretty pleased," McCoshen said. "It's early in the season, and we're still competing with other fall activities in the area."
The Jets are 14th in attendance out of 20 teams in the league.
Some teams draw more than 2,000 a night, but those teams also have large arenas to call home, he said. Janesville's rink seats about 1,200.
"We're real happy with where we're at right now."
McCoshen said that most of locals he has talked to have been "stunned" by the numbers.
"I'm hoping that our business plan—assumption—was correct: that there's a need for more affordable family entertainment. We're hoping to provide that," he said.
People who have been to the games can attest to the enthusiastic crowds, and McCoshen expects the fan base will grow, especially as the crowd gets to know individual players.
The players are ages 17 through 20.
The team's record, too, has surprised a lot people in the league, McCoshen said.
The Jets are one game under 500 in the 13 games they have played since Sept. 12.
"As an expansion team, a lot of folks thought we'd struggle through the first year," he said. But McCoshen lauded the coaching staff, which has done a good job of upgrading the team.
"Our goal is to be in the playoffs," he said.
The team was able to locate here only after the city spent $200,000 to upgrade the ice arena, and that decision, along with one to allow beer sales, was controversial.
But McCoshen said he has heard no complaints about the alcohol or the facility, including the parking.
He said he knows the parking is spilling out onto the side streets and the nearby baseball parking lot. He figures he still might hear complaints as the weather gets cooler.
The city and the team continue to work through some facility issues, McCoshen said.
"It's been a learning process on both ends," he added.
"We've said all along that we're happy to play in the Janesville ice arena. It's worked out great for us, and we're hoping it becomes a tough place for visiting teams to play."