Monday, February 23, 2009

Checking out the Checkers

An attendance record was set at Time Warner Cable Arena on Saturday night -- but it wasn't for the struggling Bobcats. Rather, it was the Checkers, perhaps Charlotte's best-kept secret, who had an all-time audience high of 12,398 for their 5-2 victory over the Florida Everblades.

Maybe the secret's getting out.

I checked out the Checkers for (admittedly) the first time on Saturday and was surprised to see the game as well attended than a Bobcats game (average attendance 14,065; they had a season-high of 19,244 during Friday's game against Orlando).

But what struck me the most was the entire atmosphere of fun the Checkers organization created in the arena. Whereas people attend Bobcats games dressed to the nines and looking to see and be seen on their way to courtside seats or to the BackCourt Bar for free cookies, those in attendance at the Checkers game Saturday were there just for a good time, from little kids to young professionals in their 20s, 30s and 40s -- and I even saw a couple of senior citizens doing the chicken dance on the jumbo screen.

Sure, the hockey isn't as pretty as a Hurricanes game -- I saw more than one player whiff -- but tickets are cheap and the entertainment borders on the goofy: human hamster races, the above-mentioned chicken dance, giant eyeball races, an SNL clip of Christopher Walken ("I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell") and an ATV-driving polar bear who does donuts on the ice.

Add in the multiple bars in the arena and it's quite the social scene. There was even a dating service playing matchmaker up at the Rock the Rooftop bar on the upper level.

The Checkers are back at home March 1. Tickets range from $10-$35. Look out for the semi-regular Wet Your Whistle Weekday promotions -- next one is March 10 -- where 12-ounce Bud Lights at the arena are only $3 (regularly $6.25).


Anonymous said...


Go check out OUR team. Cheap and fun!!

Go Checkers!
Go Canes Go!!!

Anonymous said...

The Checkers know their audience and the Bobcats do not. The Bobcats have struggled with this since the begining, and the result is an area crowd that gets more excited about a t-shirt toss than any game being played. I've heard '99 Red Balloons' played during a time out at a Bobcats game...are you kidding me?

Anonymous said...

Checkers suck.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Took my kids to a bobcats game & we wont go back. "Daddy I'm bored".
Best thing about the Checkers is the crowd, they are into it and the guy from fox tv gets them going without being the bobcatsourionyl

Anonymous said...

I have long said that the Checkers are the best ticket in Charlotte. Price, entertainment value, proximity to the game/players,and much much more! If you have never been you should go.

That being said; the author here needs to note (poor reporting) that the crowds for Saturdays game was inflated due to the Hemby Cup that was played prior to the Checkers game. Those that attended the Hemby Cup got tickets for that nights game too.

Go see the team; they are Charlotte's TRUE entertainment value!!!

Anonymous said...

My daughter and I have been going to the Checkers' games for many years. This is, without a doubt, the best sport for families. The game is exciting, the players are very approachable and the organization does such a great job of involving the kids. The only down side is that because they are a "minor league" team (as are the Knights) the coverage by the Charlotte Observer is terrible. Especially with the hard economic times, would it kill the Observer to showcase a sport that doesn't cost a family $200 to attend?

Anonymous said...

Whether it's a small crowd or large , the Checkers games are the best. You don't have to know hockey to enjoy. We love OUR team!!!!

Orange Chuck said...

I love when I get a chance to go out and see the Checkers. Minor league sports are the best deals in town and watching these young athletes compete to try and make the major leagues is great entertainment. I only wish there was a way to get the youth more active in hockey and see how enjoyable it can be. Go Checkers!

44's #1 fan forever. said...

Everyone was so excited for the Bobcats to come to town but their games are dull and uneventful. I don't know why someone would waste their money to watch a team lose when they could pay a cheaper price to watch a fantastic game. The Charlotte Checkers office staff and interns put so much thought into what will entertain families best. They honestly care what the fans think.
And to whoever said "Checkers suck." you might want to check the standings and recent scores because they beat the number one team in the division 3 times in 5 days.

Anonymous said...

Check out a weekday game when the attendance is only 3k

donald said...

I have to admit, I hated the move from the Big I to the New but not the new arena ( Char Coll was the New, then in 10 years, Bobcats arene was the new new). Anyway, I gave up my season tix when they made the move. Thought that kind of atmosphere was best for the Big I. I now have to say I was wrong! It took awhile, but the checkers are really doing it right at the New house. Its such a great game and the fans are not the same as the "want to be seen" type. I wish we could send the Bobcats to Raleigh and we would take the Canes. Or, how about 4-5 games in Charlotte for the Canes, and 4-5 Bobcats games at the RBC??? Packers do it, Ray's do it, and so do many more. Why not here?