Krefeld (dpa) – The German Ice Hockey Federation expresses alarm. His biggest draw, the men’s national team, doesn’t seem to be pulling anymore. At least not in Krefeld. There, players, national coaches and officials were surprised by the poor response from the crowd after a 3-2 extra-time win against Denmark in the German Cup.
Officially, 1680 spectators were given. In fact, it was probably less than 1,000. “It was certainly below our expectations,” confirmed DEB chairman Peter Merten, still noticeably cautious. “It’s not ideal.”
The German Cup continues
As a result, there will be no further negotiations with Krefeld about a possible extension. After five tournaments in the Lower Rhine, the German Cup will continue next year. “We are here for the fifth time. The innovation effect has evaporated. We want to go somewhere else,” Merten said bluntly. Schweningen is being discussed as a transitional venue before the DEB could return to Munich in 2024 or 2025 for its traditional Four Nations tournament, with the SAP Garden currently under permanent construction.
According to Friday Merten, the unsuccessful number of viewers on Thursday sounded even more dramatic. According to the DEB president, some of the tickets have still been given to state associations and sponsors. This may also explain the apparent discrepancy between the actual and official viewership numbers. Because according to Merten, most of the sponsor tickets should have gone only for the weekend games against Austria (Saturday/5.30pm) and Slovakia (Sunday/2.30pm).
In the DEB and the German Ice Hockey League, they are currently dealing with the reasons. According to CEO Gernot Tripke, currently, about ten percent fewer people come to DEL halls than at the same time in the pre-corona years. “But it’s even better than we feared,” Tripke said. DEL and DEB are sure that especially elderly people are still afraid of mass events because of the coronavirus.
Merten: “We have to return the fans.”
“We are also fighting to get back to 100 percent in our league,” said DEL2 CEO Rene Rudorish. “It’s not good at the moment. But the current season should not be the benchmark yet. We currently have too many crises and problems in Germany for that.” The leagues and the DEB fear that the current energy crisis will save mainly on stadium tickets.
“People are concerned about the question ‘is there enough money?'” said Merten, who has another, uncomfortable doubt. “We also spoiled the fans with online offers,” Merten said. All games in DEL and DEL2 can be seen live via streaming services. “Now we have to bring the fans back to the arena.”
The lack of encouragement in Krefeld may also be due to a lack of draft horses. Big-name players are hardly there this year, as national coach Toni Söderholm mainly tests lesser-known talents. They also thought about empty rows. “Every player wants to play in front of a big crowd,” Soderholm said. This year’s captain of Switzerland’s SCL Langnau, Mark Michaelis, took it in stride. “I played my only German Cup so far during Corona. There were no pigs here. It is growth,” said the 27-year-old football player.
© dpa-infocom, dpa:221111-99-475413/4