New York Rangers GM Glen Sather repeated an old myth of sports in his town, telling ESPN.com that he “doesn’t think the market in New York is a place where people are patient.”
The Rangers have been a middle-of-the-pack team in each season since the lockout, winning between 38-44 games. They haven’t seriously contended for a championship in 16 years.
Yet, year in and year out, fans pack the arena. Madison Square Garden has been filled to at least 99.3 per cent its capacity every season.
The last time the Rangers were truly awful, in 2003-2004, they won 27 games and still averaged 18,080 fans per game game (99.34 per cent capacity).
Meanwhile, the Rangers’ co-tenants at MSG, the Knicks, have averaged less than 29 wins over the last six seasons, yet have not fallen further than tenth in NBA attendance. They’ve averaged more than 19,000 fans per game over the franchise’s least successful stretch. Even last year, when the Knicks were openly clearing their roster to make room for LeBron, they finished fifth in attendance.
Those facts debunk the myth of New Yorkers being impatient. Sure, you can point to the region’s huge population to explain the robust attendance – but that’s exactly the point. The giant fan base affords these teams the time to rebuild.
And despite the litany of big name players these teams have acquired past their peak to delay a true rebuilding effort, fans are always drawn to the young overachievers. David Lee and Ryan Callahan were more beloved than Stephon Marbury and Pavel Bure. Fans actually become attached to those athletes who personify the term “rebuilding.”
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