Published online at GlobalTVEdmonton.com on February 14, 2011.
Linda Hoang, Global News: Monday, February 14, 2011
Are fans still loyal to the Oil?
With the Oilers now in last place in the NHL, questions are stirring around whether fans are remaining loyal and how businesses that rely on the team’s success are doing with the latest losing streak.
The team has only won six home games this season and it’s been five years since the Oilers have made it to the Playoffs.
The dip in performance has some business owners worrying, including Liam Troy, general manager at Overtime sports bar, who says business during Oilers games haven’t been as good as it once was.
“It kind of seems like there’s been quite a bit of lack of interest lately. The game is on in the background, there’s sound, but people kind of go about their conversation,” Troy said.
“It almost seems like they come out to come out, not to necessarily watch the Oiler game, it’s kind of like an afterthought.”
He also says he doesn’t blame his patrons or lack of patrons, for the drop in business.
“When they’re not playing well you can’t really expect big groups of people to be coming out,” Troy said. “If they’re continously losing it’s kind of hard for people to come and support.”
Troy said there is a “direct correlation” between an increase in sales and how successful the Oilers are playing, at least with what he’s seen with his business.
It’s not just sports bars and restaurants who air Oilers games that have seen less fans coming out, sports paraphernalia stores are also seeing the change.
All Star Sports Cards and Collectibles sells Oilers apparel, trinkets, toys, and other collectables.
The company says they’ve got everything Oilers-related that a fan would be looking for, but admits fans don’t seem to be looking as much as they once did.
“It’s slowed down a little bit,” said Henry Smolik with All Star Sports Cards and Collectibles.
“It means lower sales, especially if (the team) isn’t winning. There is not as much of an urgency to come and get (the merchandise).”
However despite the lower number of fans coming in to purchase merchandise, Smolik said the customers who do come in are still loyal to the Oil.
“They’re very happy with the Oilers. Many are understanding that this is a team rebuilding themselves,” he said.
Still as Smolik says, the team is in a rebuilding phase and he, like some fans, are still looking forward to when the Oilers will make it back into a Playoff run, a time when business is always booming.