With six home games remaining, the San Francisco Bulls’ box office figures are right where president-coach Pat Curcio expected them to be.
The Bulls are averaging 4,226 fans per game in their inaugural season at the Cow Palace, which ranks 15th out of 23 teams in the ECHL. Attendance is less than 500 fans below the league average and Curcio considers it a victory.
“Our goal was to average between 3,000 and 3,500 per game and we’ve exceeded that,” Curcio said.
He said a recent news report that suggested the team is experiencing attendance problems in the wake of the NHL’s return from a 113-day lockout is exaggerated.
The Bulls are averaging roughly 1,000 fewer fans per night in the 10 games since the NHL returned if attendance figures from the season opener (8,277) and the Dec. 17 contest at HP Pavilion (12,881) are excluded.
Recent attendance numbers are also down because four of 10 games have been played on weeknights. Prior to the lockout, only four of 21 games took place during the workweek and attendance for each of those contests was less than 3,000 fans.
“It’s been very consistent all year long if you take out the big numbers,” Curcio said. “On Sunday, we had more than 3,500 fans.”
He said the Bulls and Sharks aren’t drawing from the same pool of fans.
“It’s totally night and day,” he said. “A lot of our fans are from the East Bay, north of The City — Sausalito and those areas — and, of course, the San Francisco market.”
Playoffs at the Palace: Barring a disaster in the last nine games, the Kelly Cup playoffs will make an appearance at the Cow Palace this April. The Bulls currently hold an eight-point lead over the Bakersfield Condors for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with one game in hand.
Although eight of nine teams in the conference make the playoffs, Curcio said clinching a spot would be a major victory for the expansion club.
“We always thought that if we could battle and get into the playoffs, it would be a remarkable accomplishment for year one,” he said.
Quick hits: The Bulls expect forward Kris Belan and goalie Thomas Heemskerk to return from the AHL before the weekend. ... The Worcester Sharks recalled Yanni Gourde on Monday, sending down forward Tommy Grant, who has 45 points in 127 AHL games, to replace him.