And, the downtown arena is filled for most Phantoms ice hockey games.
It wasn't packed late Sunday afternoon when the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks kicked off their 2017 season against the Dayton Wolfpack.
A crowd officials estimated at just under 4,000 saw at least a part of the Steelhawks' 66-25
However, this is one case where attendance figures aren't the sole measure of a franchise's success or failure.
The several thousand fans the Steelhawks get for their games generally keep coming back week after week and season after season.
They like seeing the hard-hitting action in an intimate setting. They like the contests and all the other bells and whistles that go on during timeouts. They like the halftime shows like the one delivered by
Most of all, the fans like bringing kids on to the field to get autographs and take pictures with the players once the game is over. Even 20 minutes after the game ended early Sunday night, fans were still coming down the steps leading from the concourse to the field.
It doesn't matter that the Steelhawks aren't the Eagles or
The mere fact that this is the Steelhawks' seventh season of operation overall and third year at PPL Center, makes them a success story, especially when you look around and see all the franchises that have come and gone since the team played its first home game on
Six years later on Sunday, the Steelhawks were still doing their thing and even with the weather finally showing signs of improvement and virtually all of college basketball's blue bloods playing tournament games, a couple of thousand people still showed up to watch football.
"There's a lot to be said about that," head coach and assistant GM
Thompson's primary focus is putting a quality team together and winning games, but he also knows the franchise's future depends much more on making people happy and producing new fans.
That's why he was just as happy with the number of young ladies who attended a dance clinic in the morning or a youth football skills clinic in the afternoon as he was with the 66 points his team scored.
Thompson is also excited about the Steelhawks youth football league that will feature 10 teams and 190 kids after starting with just four teams three years ago.
"It's all about building a family atmosphere," said Thompson, who is now in his sixth season in the Lehigh Valley after spending six as a player, coach and assistant
"When I started this team, my son Mike was a sports management major and he couldn't get a job,"
Clark said a lot of mistakes were made in the first year and the team had to shake the stigma left by the area's previous indoor pro team, the Lehigh Valley Outlawz.
Once they distinguished themselves as a different franchise, the Steelhawks forged positive relationships around the community and built a treasure trove of sponsors.
Getting Thompson from
"Thanks to Mike and
The Steelhawks are hoping that the new league, the
"We really enjoy the Lehigh Valley and enjoy the people here,"
STEELHAWKS 66, DAYTON 25
The Steelhawks play the High Country Grizzlies in
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