By WOODY PAIGE
The Colorado Avalanche got off to a 4-4 start, and drew an average of 15,428 to its three home games. The Denver Nuggets were 1-2 with only one home game, which attracted a good crowd of 18,055. It’s early. The Avalanche is tied for ninth in the Western Conference. Only eight team will qualify for the postseason. The Nuggets are 12th in their Western Conference, four below the Mendoza Line, if you will. The Avalanche is 23rd in NHL attendance, the Nuggets tied for 17th.
Today’s significant questions are:
Does Colorado possess the worst NBA-NHL duo in North America?
Do the Avalanche and the Nuggets have the lowest combined attendance and attention in professional hockey-basketball?
Would Stan Kroenke move the two franchises to Seattle?
The answers are:
The Colorado Tourism Office should proclaim in national magazine ads: “”Our pro basketball and hockey teams are about the same as Carolina’s and Arizona’s, but the skiing in our state is far superior, and we’re hosting the 2017 World Cup Finals.’’
The Avalanche and the Nuggets have opened their seasons; the ski season in Colorado has been pushed back for one major reason: No snow.
Skiing probably will be iffy early; “”experts’’ expect the Nugs and the Avs could be, too, predicting that neither will reach the playoffs again in 2016-17.
The pair actually haven’t been in the postseason the same season since 2009-10. The Avs made it to the first round once in seven seasons (2013-14), and the Nuggets haven’t had a real sniff in the past three seasons after losing in the first round in 2012-13.
Are they least successful combo around the two leagues?
Nah! The Phoenix Suns have not qualified for the postseason over a six-season span, and the Arizona Coyotes were not in the Stanley Cup playoffs the past four years.
Yay! COLORADO is better than ARIZONA.
How about attendance last season? The Nuggets finished with the NBA’s worst — an average of 14,095 patrons for 41 games at The CAN (Center for the Avalanche and the Nuggets). The Avalanche’s crowd average was 17,032 — 19th overall in the NHL.
The Avs’ number was aided considerably by the 50,095 hockey and side show fanatics who showed up for the Avalanche-Red Wings outdoor game at Coors Field.
Only 14 metro areas in North America are home to franchises in both NBA and NHL franchises. Denver is among the chosen few.
The Avalanche and the Nuggets sold a cumulative total of 1,222,130 tickets last season, although tens of thousands of fans were disguised as empty seats).
The Phoenix area beat the Denver metroplex – barely – with 1,252,168, but the Charlotte Hornets and the Carolina Hurricanes were bottom-feeders with 1,217,257.
Yay, COLORADO is better than CAROLINA in attendance and Super Bowl!
It’s not much to be proud of, though, when compared to Chicago’s combined average of 40,016, Detroit’s 36,542 and Dallas’ 36,104, and those cities’ teams didn’t win a championship.
New Avs coach Jared Bedmar is not contemplating fan base. He’s just thrilled to be coaching anywhere. But Michael Malone, starting his second season as Nuggets coach, is aware of the sounds of silence, saying the franchise must “”give our fans a product they are excited about . . . That starts with winning.’’
Rebuild the winning teams, as the Nuggets had with Larry Brown, Doug Moe and George Karl, and as the Avalanche had from its arrival through most of 15 seasons, and they will come. The Avs sold out every game for years, and the Nuggets used to surpass 700,000 annually.
Coloradans can’t be faulted for refusing to support failure.
Yet, an undercurrent of theories infer that Kroenke, who moved the Rams, might be brazen enough to shift the Nuggets and the Avalanche to Seattle.
Not happening ever, any more than Kroenke moving Arsenal from London to Dudley.
Kroenke doesn’t even own the Nuggets and the Avalanche any longer. Because of NFL rules, Kroenke placed the franchises’ ownership in a family trust last year. Josh Kroenke runs the franchises for the trust, and he’s not moving. Kroenke bought the two teams and The CAN in 2000 for $450 million. The Avs and the Nuggets are valued by Forbes now at $1.21 billion, and the arena, constructed for $187 million, and the surrounding land are worth more than $600 million. All are money-makers. The Kroenke family couldn’t add 90 concerts a year, and Kroenke does own two more franchises and a soccer stadium here.
The Nuggets and the Avs are secure. They need CAN-DO at The CAN.
The answer is: Don’t stink.
If they do, tickets are available for World Cup Ski Finals March 15-19 in Aspen.
(Woody’s column originally appeared in The Gazette, but has been updated.)