Tonight, North America will regain its fourth sport, but not without some major changes to the game and promotions to attract fans.After a yearlong work stoppage, the National Hockey League is returning to the sports scene, and will have to deal with what Major League Baseball faced after its season-ending 1994 strike: an apathetic fan base.
The strike, which wiped out all 1,230 regular season games last year, has caused many problems for the sport of hockey and its fans.
“I was definitely angry at the players for the strike,” said T.J. Jordan, a junior political science major. “I thought they were all being greedy and unreasonable.”
Andrew Gillentine, a junior economics major, had a different view of the strike.
“The sport of hockey does have a loyal fan base, and I don’t think the strike will affect feelings of the die-hard fans,” Gillentine said.
The Dallas Stars are concerned about their fan base and are trying to get the community more involved this year, said Jason Rademan, public relations director for the Stars.
“We want the players to be seen in public away from the rink,” Rademan said. “We also opened up all our practices in Frisco to the public to get the fans involved.”
Not only are the Stars making changes in their fan policies, but the NHL made some significant rule changes to help promote the game.
The changes include moving the net closer to the end boards to create more scoring opportunities, reducing the size of the goalie equipment and barring the goalie from handing the puck behind the goal line.
Perhaps, the most significant change to the game is the salary cap that was instated this year to equalize the payroll between teams, Rademan said.
The general response from TCU students about the change is positive.
“I love the rule changes, especially the payroll cuts,” said Jordan. “It means every team will be more competitive because the superstars will be more equally distributed.”
Jameson Cockerell, a junior history major, agreed.
“The salary caps will really widen the competition in the game,” he said. “It will make the NHL more competitive and hopefully attract more fans.”
The Stars also hope to attract more fans with their changes in ticket pricing.
The average ticket price went down 10 percent this year, Rademan said.
“With the salary cap structure, it really leveled the playing field, and this allows us to pass the savings on to the fans,” Rademan said.
Rademan said Stars tickets are still available, and approximately 6,000 tickets can be purchased for less than $31 each game.
Rademan said the Stars are also trying to encourage college students to attend games with the “Dallas Stars College Rush.”
“This allows college students to show their student ID and receive premium seats at student prices,” he said.
Jordan was very enthusiastic about the student discount.
“I plan on attending many Stars games this season, especially because the tickets are so cheap this year,” Jordan said.
Cockerell also expressed his enthusiasm for the game.
“Despite all the changes to the game, I’m just happy hockey is back,” said Cockerell. “I am a huge fan of the game, and I can’t wait to watch it again.