With the NHL losing games to the lockout, the Hockey Hall of Fame is bracing itself for a potential decrease in attendance.
On the second floor of the Hockey Hall of Fame, administrative staff are hard at work on their Plan B.
With players locked out, the NHL preseason was cancelled on Sep. 27. And now, as the NHL and NHLPA point fingers at each other, regular season games are next on the chopping block. “We do well when there are games,” said Peter Jagla matter-of-factly last Monday afternoon, from his bright office overlooking Front Street. The Hall’s VP of marketing, Jagla explained how during the 2005 lockout, the museum saw a 25 per cent decrease in attendance. And there’s not much time to spare to save this season.
“We have school groups starting now,” he said, and one of the Hall’s biggest challenges is keeping kids involved. “Hopefully there’s a constant conversation about the next generation of fans.” So for now, the Hall’s temporary, business-boosting backup plans include free admission for kids on certain days, and hosting autograph signings.
Down in the largely empty exhibit space, Dan Nixon was taking his first-ever tour with a friend. He works in a restaurant nearby, and was preparing for some slow nights himself. Hockey brings in the crowds—the upcoming basketball season, he explained, just won’t cut it.