Want a Steelheads ticket? Good luck. Team sees big growth: ‘the future is bright’

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The Idaho Steelheads have drawn in big crowds for years now- and this season’s attendance has been one of the best.

With one weekend home game to go, the Steelheads’ crowd numbers have peaked for the first time since the hockey team’s 1997-98 season.

The ICCU Arena is at 99.8% capacity with an average of 4,992 fans in attendance. During the Steelhead’s first season in ‘97-98, the arena’s attendance percentage was 99.3% with an average of 4,971 people attending. 

Though this season ranks number one in attendance, the Steelheads have drawn pretty consistent crowds throughout the years – with the lowest capacity being 78% in the 2011-12 season. 

President Eric Trapp credits this growth and consistency largely to staff and loyal fans.

[Deep Dive: New arena, stadium revamp, much more: Inside Boise State’s ‘vision’ for sports facilities. AD tells BoiseDev: ‘not going to sit back and wait]

Brand equity

Fans before a Steelheads game this winter. Photo: Don Day/BoiseDev

“We were able to stay in contact with our customers,” Trapp said. “And I think over the 25 years we built up pretty good equity in this market of what the Steelheads are and the experience we provide, so I think that helped us to bounce back quickly. Because we had built up our fan base.”

Trapp added that Idaho’s strong economy during the COVID-19 pandemic also helped boost attendance.

“That helped us, a lot of people moving in here. It’s been a growing market.… But I like to look at our staff and how long they’ve been in this market and the relationships they’ve built that really helped us as well,” Trapp said.

Trapp added that 2019-2020 was a strong season for attendance prior to some games being canceled because of the pandemic. The three games that were canceled were sold out, which means the Steelheads would have sold out 23 of their 36 home games prior to the pandemic.

He believes this season’s numbers are just building on what was started then. 

“It’s just picked right up from that,” Trapp said.

For seasons that have had a slight dip in attendance, Trapp said a lot of that has to do with the schedule the team is dealt. Often weekend games are sold out, and Wednesday games have availability.

The Steelheads energy

He pointed out that because of the building size and structure, the arena always feels “energetic.”

“I think we’ve always been known in our league as having some of the best attendances and now we have a smaller building and a lot of people,” Trapp said. “I think that helps us too. And that even if we have what we might deem a smaller crowd of 4,000 or something, it still feels energetic in the building. “

Adding to the atmosphere is the location of the arena – in the middle of downtown Boise. 

“Our setting being downtown and how vibrant downtown Boise is, adds to the overall experience to come into our game because you can go to a restaurant or a bar before after the game and it’s just kind of in the heart of all the energy of Boise,” Trapp said.

Trapp said he’s looking forward to the coming years and continuing to grow with the Treasure Valley.

“The future for the Idaho Steelheads is very bright,” he said. “We have been in the market for 25 successful years and look forward to another 25 or more years.  We will always be looking for what our best options are moving forward with the growth of the Treasure Valley.”
”The future for the Idaho Steelheads is very bright,” he said. “We have been in the market for 25 successful years and look forward to another 25 or more years. We will always be looking for what our best options are, moving forward with the growth of the Treasure Valley.”

Autum Robertson - BoiseDev Reporter
Autum Robertson - BoiseDev Reporter
Autum Robertson is a BoiseDev reporter focused on Meridian and McCall. Contact her at [email protected].

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