Reading Royals hold Town Hall meeting, looking to expand fan base

This article can be found published on Chicks Who Give a Puck.
(From left to right) Don Sweeney, Dave Poulin and Larry Courville at the Town Hall Meeting. (Candice Monhollan)

(From left to right) Don Sweeney, Dave Poulin and Larry Courville at the Town Hall Meeting. (Candice Monhollan)

Hockey season is in the air in Berks County, Pa. as the Reading Royals held their annual Town Hall Meeting Monday night inside the Sovereign Center.

Close to 100 Royals fans were in attendance to hear from General Manager Mark Wallace and Head Coach Larry Courville on the state of the team. Guest speakers included Toronto Maple Leafs Vice President of Hockey Operations, Dave Poulin, and Boston Bruins Assistant General Manager, Don Sweeney.

“We’re heading into a new decade of Reading Royals hockey,” Wallace said. “We will be approaching our two-millionth fan sometime in December or January.”

Wallace laid out plans to bring in more fans to Reading as he looked back to the 700 season ticket holders lost from the 2008-09 season. The marketing department will work to push outside of Berks County into the surrounding areas to draw in a larger fan base.

“We did make a $130,000 improvement from the year prior [and] we did have nearly 12,000 more people in the arena than the year prior,” Wallace said.

Last season saw the Royals’ average attendance reach 4,568 in a league that averages 4,339 per game.

Early in August, the Royals renewed their affiliations with the Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs of the NHL and the Toronto Marlies of the AHL. This will be fourth consecutive year with the Maple Leafs and third with the Bruins.

“The best thing we can offer to these players is the most professional, positive environment at the East Coast Hockey League level, and [the fans] give it to them here,” Poulin said. “[The fans] have a very difficult job because [they] are fans at the grassroots level of pro hockey and that can be very, very challenging.”

With the season set to begin in less than two months, the team seems to be well on its way to try to match their record high of 44 wins last season and the team and management are hoping to draw even more of a crowd to the Sovereign Center in 2011-12.

“I’m very excited for this upcoming season,” Courville said. “[We] worked very hard this summer to put a team [together] that can bring the Kelly Cup to Reading.”

The new jerseys for the Royals for the 2011-12 season. (Candice Monhollan)

The new jerseys for the Royals for the 2011-12 season. (Candice Monhollan)

NOTES
About 40 minutes into the meeting, the floor was opened up to questions from the fans in attendance. Below are some of the topics discussed.

Poulin on possible rule changes on any of the levels: “One rule I think we will see go into effect which could have a trickle down is a hybrid icing type of rule where the referee has the discretion to blow the whistle and essentially call it icing before the players get there if it looks like there is going to be a significant collision.”

Poulin on concussions: “Most of these kids that come up now have worn full face masks growing up through youth hockey and it gives them a sense of invincibility – that they can’t be hurt…I think there is much more of an awareness in concussions.”

Sweeney on blind side hits: “That’s a respect factor among players, to tell you the truth…Scott Stevens, I don’t know if he’d be able to play right now with the hits they are calling blind side. The hits that are straight on, with your head down, should still be allowed in the National Hockey League. There’s an onus among the players to make sure his head is up.”

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Categories: ECHL, Ice Hockey, Sports

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