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Giants Name Change?

photo credit WHL

Everyone wonders if and when the Giants will make a name change to fit with the current area they are playing at, namely the Langley Events Centre.

It’s sort of how many in the area call the home of the Canucks, GM Place, rather than Rogers Arena, which was basically a manner in which to generate additional revenue.

They are the only team playing in the lower mainland and realistically speaking the Western Hockey League would not place a new or existing franchise in the area.

One reason is that the area is saturated with Junior hockey, either in the Junior “A” BCHL or the PJHL, the only Junior “B” league in the area.

A while back I spoke with Dale Saip, Senior Vice-President of the Giants and he mentioned to me that a survey was conducted in the 2015-16 season and 62% of those attending were males and the majority coming from the Valley.

The team made the move from the PNE Coliseum to Langley Events Centre for the start of the 2016-17 season.

He (Dale Saip) mentioned a short while back that the team wasn’t expecting a gender switch to coincide with the move to Langley and interesting enough for the 2017-18 season, 53% of ticket holders were women hockey fans.

Dale mentioned “It’s great for us, and I think it’s something that helps us and because moms are the ones who are making the decisions about where they buy their car insurance and where they buy their groceries, so the sponsors love it. But also it allows you to bill it as a family event, which is really important to us.”

The team can also assume that the increase of social media is to the team’s larger female fan base that rose from the 2015-16 to the 2017-18 season.

The social media also rose by 76% on Instagram, 32% on Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) and 23% on Facebook(Nasdaq:FB).

Jack Frose Mayor of the Township of Langley mentioned that the fan base change for the Giants is tied to the area’s real estate market, indicating that many families have moved into the community looking for affordable homes.

During the 2015-16 season, 40% of fans were between the ages of 35 and 65. That has moved up to 45%, and there has also been an 11% jump in the number of fans in the 16-24 age group over the same period.

Attendance for Giants games has dropped from the 2015-16 season, when the team had an average of 3,848 fans per game, according to Canadian Hockey League statistics, to 3,383 for the 2017-18 season. The decline, however, is reflective of the entire Western Hockey League (WHL).

A high-water mark for the WHL was the 2012-13 season, when teams had an average of 4,815 fans per game. This number dropped to 4,474 for the 2016-17 season league-wide. Over the past two seasons, the Vancouver Canucks and the BC Lions have seen attendance numbers drop while the Vancouver Whitecaps have recorded a slight increase.

The Giants made the WHL playoffs last season, pushing the Victoria Royals to seven games before losing in Game 7 by one goal. Many pundits had predicted the team would not make the playoffs at all. Robert Gray, the national program director for TSN Radio, said expectations are high for the 2018-19 season, noting the Giants had one of the youngest teams in the WHL last season.

During the 2010 Winter Olympics the Giants played six (6) home games because the Coliseum was being used for short-track speed skating and over the following few seasons the team could see the writing on the wall, especially as real estate prices around the area started to rise.

The team had conversations with officials at the City of Vancouver, which owns the land and the building, about potential or possible upgrades, but rather than listen, it was like talking to a wall.

It’s true that the Coliseum has three times the capacity of the LEC (5,276 seats) but simply wasn’t creating the right type of fan experience for the modern age.