Many have emailed me stating that they think I am “picking on” Jamestown New York. Some have said Tier II Non Pay To Play Hockey will succeed in Jamestown if given another chance.
The facts do not support the argument.
I grew up in Buffalo New York and spent good portions of my summers as a child vacationing in Jamestown with family that lived there. I know the city well, better than most who dont live there.
In 2011, Jamestown was said to has 31,000 people living in its fours zip codes. The estimated median household income was around $32,000.00, which was up from only $25,000.00 a decade ago. The State of New York estimated median household income however is closer to $55,000.00. This is a critical item to look at and the disparity is striking.
While the residents are a nearly 50/50 split in female to male ratio. The general population is predominantly caucasian. The reported unemployment rate is nearly 9%, estimates from local business owners contacted in Jamestown would suggest it is probably closer to 20% in real numbers.
Doing very simple math, not the in depth study that should be done before placing a junior hockey team anywhere, the most basic numbers would tell us what?
31,000 residents with lower than average income. 20% of them unemployed leaves you with a potential target market of 25,000 fans. Lets say half of them grew up as hockey fans which is a ridiculously high number, but that gives you roughly 15,000 to draw from.
Understand Jamestown is largely a rural community, most people have to drive 10 or more minutes to work and the arena is down town. Also understand that the Fredonia Blue Devils NCAA hockey team is 20 minutes down the road and actually closer for residents just north of down town to attend games. The Buffalo Sabres are less than an hour drive for Jamestown residents with those discretionary spending dollars.
Your target market is really maximized at about 10,000 potential ticket purchasers. Those people though have jobs, kids play sports, and given the median income will not be willing to spend those discretionary dollars on sports that are not school or youth related.
The psychology and financial makeup of the consumer does not even come close to supporting Tier II junior hockey in Jamestown.
When comparing numbers to a successful team at the gate, like Odessa, even though they were not nearly as successful on the ice, you get the opposite numbers. Better population, higher incomes, lower unemployment in a community that is growing, not shrinking.
Take into account that Odessa’s population is more than 50% hispanic, and the numbers become that much more striking.
Odessa reported a regular season attendance average just over 2,500 per night, which is exceptional for a team that was not that successful in the wins and loss columns. Jamestown reported an average of just over 650 per night for a team that was exceptional in the win and loss column.
Odessa captured roughly 2.5% of the population based on reported numbers. Jamestown is roughly the same percentage. Keep in mind that 2.5% is a very high number and traditionally teams do not get that high of a percentage. In that regard, Jamestown would need to raise its percentage to nearly 7.5% of the population attending games to even come close to what many think is a break even attendance number of 2000 fans per night.
To triple attendance numbers in a limited population base with the other factors involved is impossible.
Jamestown is a great city. Jamestown Savings Bank Arena is a first class building. Jamestown fans are great people and they love their teams. There simply aren’t enough of them, and until the most basic demographics change, Jamestown is not a Tier II junior hockey city.
Tier III hockey was, and would be successful again. Jamestown deserves a team, and everyone I know hopes they get one. Lets all hope it is at the right level.
Joseph Kolodziej – Publisher