The Portland LumberJax
open their season tomorrow, Jan. 3 against the Minnesota Swarm
facing two questions above all others.
Their on-field question: Can they repeat last season's run to the championship game, where they lost to the Buffalo Bandits.
But the bigger question is off the field: can the LumberJax attract fans in this tough economy?
Other sports leagues have already suffered in this economy. The Arena Football League
has suspended play
for the 2009 season.
Yet as of Dec, 18, the Jax had just more than 2,000 season ticket holders, ahead of last year's mark by 200. Head coach/general manager Derek Keenan
thinks attendance signs believes the economic downturn can help the LumberJax, saying pro lacrosse remains an affordable alternative to other entertainment options. Season tickets
range from $75 to $450 — compared to Trail Blazers season tickets that can sell for thousands of dollars.
“In a tough economy people look for bargains,” says LumberJax executive vice president Brian Silcott. “So many entertainment options are priced out of most people's reach but we offer a ton of fun for very little cost.”
One new fan feature this year, Silcott says, is “The LumberYard,” a place for rowdy fans patterned after these folks
. Last year, the Jax averaged 8,100 people per game, and this year Silcott is projecting 9,000 per game with a goal in two years of reaching 10,000 per game.
Meanwhile, if you go to a game, know that you're not the only one there struggling in this economy. Many of the LumberJax players have second and third jobs. Here's a quick list of some of the LumberJax players and how they moonlight in order to keep themselves fed:
- Head Coach, GM and Special Events Manager for the city of Oshawa, Ontario.
- Goalie and Insurance Underwriter
- Defense and Lunds Auctioneers & Appraisers
- Defense, Assistant Team Captain and Associate Athletic Director at the Hill Academy
- Forward, Ticket Sales Executive and Community Relations Assistant
- Forward and Personal Trainer
- Forward and Firefighter for Vancouver, WA FD.