Thursday, February 10, 2011

Bandits success

Legndary lacrosse writer Neil Stevens wrote an interesting piece for Lacrosse Magazine  about the off-floor success of the Buffalo Bandits.

Of course it helps that the Bandits are in the middle of the boxla hotbed, but as always, it's a learning process for other NLL markets. Here's hoping they're learning a thing or two from them.
 The Buffalo Bandits continue to be a major National Lacrosse League success story at the HSBC Arena gate.
Attendance for a 15-12 win over Minnesota was 15,001 last Friday. That followed a home opener throng of 16,685 on Jan. 22.
There are 9,500 Bandits season ticket holders. The game-night presentation includes a dancing squad of cheerleaders, giveaways, contests and the encouraging voice of Chris Swenson, who always seems to know when to urge the crowd to higher decibel levels.
"He's the best there is at the in-game public address announcements," said Scott Loffler, the Bandits' director of lacrosse operations. ''The fans love him. He knows what he's doing."
Swenson has been hired by the NLL to do the all-star game Sunday Feb. 27.
Winning the Champion's Cup at HSBC in 2008 solidified attendance.
"That definitely helped us going forward," Loffler said. "A lot of people who hadn't been to a game and came to see that championship game fell in love with the sport."
Proximity to southern Ontario, where box lacrosse is more popular than it is in most parts of the United States, helps keep attendance high. At least 25 percent of season ticket holders are Canadians. Some of the Bandits' star players, namely Mark Steenhuis and the currently injured Billy Dee Smith, are from nearby St. Catharines. Being within driving distance of First Nations communities also is a factor, since the Bandits always have First Nations players in their lineup.
Add it all up, and it is a recipe for success other cities wish they could replicate.
"We put a good product on the floor," Loffler said. "We've been successful over the last 10 or 12 years and that helps."

- by Neil Stevens Lacrosse Magazine

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