Anyone who has attended an AHL hockey game at the old Hersheypark Arena or the spiffy new Giant Center won’t be surprised in the least by the news my friend Tim Leone reports on page A-1 of Friday’s edition of The [Harrisburg] Patriot-News. Street and Smith’s Sports Business Journal has ranked Harrisburg-Hershey as the second best (from a field of 242 minor league markets) minor league sports market in the nation, trailing only Fort Wayne, Ind.
The rating was assessed based on franchise tenure, attendance over the past five seasons and local economic conditions.
The Bears led the AHL and set a club record in attendance last season. The Hershey hockey club will celebrate its 70th season in the AHL in 2007-08.
“I’m a proud central Pa. native, growing up in Hershey and going to Hershey High School,” Bears ticket manager Bob Ancharski said. “I think it’s awesome that a town of this size can compete and blow away teams [in AHL attendance] that have the markets like Chicago, like Houston, like San Antonio.
“Anywhere you go in the country and up in Canada, everybody knows the Hershey Bears,” Ancharski said.
Congratulations to the Bears and their entire front office staff, a well-oiled machine on and off the ice. There are quite a few major league teams that could go to school on the Bears’ Way.