Huntsville Havoc thrive in a non-traditional hockey market

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Where the Huntsville Stars failed to attract people into their stands, the Havoc have excelled. “Once you get there, til the time you leave, you’ve been entertained," says Ashley Balch, the Havoc's President.

In a city like Huntsville, Balch knows they aren't just trying to attract hockey fans.  “We’re competing for the movie dollars, for the going out to eat dollars," he says.

Balch believes they obtained an edge over the former Huntsville Stars for many reasons, including the number of games they play compared to minor league baseball.  “I need to be there because there’s not as many games with baseball, I can miss tonight, I can miss this week because they’re going to be back next week and play ten to 12 more games," says Balch.

He says it's also hard to compete with the pace of a hockey game.  “Slower moving game, it takes a little longer where as hockey is, the Predators have proven that, they’ve come down to a non traditional hockey market and they’ve sold it," he says.

The Havoc have followed the Nashville Predators' model of providing constant entertainment, especially during stoppage in play. They've also hired their first full-time social media director.  “That’s the way you’re going to reach the younger generation," says Balch.

They've built a brand of coming up with themed nights and giveaways, like free milk for fans that weren't afraid of ice on the streets.  “There’s not a bad idea in sports, maybe one doesn’t work here, that worked somewhere else, but it’s not a bad idea just because it hadn’t worked here,' he says.

With six complete sellouts and setting a league attendance record with nearly 120,000 fans attending 28 games this season, they're obviously doing something right.

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