While the national hockey media and , have focused on small crowd numbers at select Coyotes games, what they haven't focused much on is the atmosphere in general at Jobing.com. Like a number of arenas around the country the atmosphere is at times is too corporate and boring and that is only partially due to the size of the crowds. Last November the esteemed boss man around these parts offered up a must read piece about supporters clubs as part of SBN's Enhancing the Fan Experience series. Travis made the argument that the type of energy supporters clubs bring was exactly what was needed at Coyotes games. Since the piece was posted there have been a number of developments surrounding the subject across the league.
Last season the St. Louis Blues attempted to create a supporters thing called the Bluenatics. This was followed by news th the New Jersey Devils and the Los Angeles Kings have all created team sponsored supporters sections for the upcoming season. My concern is teams are likely to make their own supporters clubs too rule laden and possibly turn them into a marketing gimmick, not a true club. If you read the link above to the Blues group you'll get a taste of what I mean. From what I've seen the Devils one seems to be the one most likely to succeed because the folks in Jersey appear to get the concept.
Supporters clubs/sections which are created by fans are much more likely to succeed long term in my eyes. Two such un-official supporters clubs/sections were created this past season. Arch City Army in Columbus and the Burgundy Brigade in Denver. Given their brief histories it is too early to tell whether either will be around for the long haul. The Burgundy Brigade's was folded into Justin Goldman's Avalanche Guild over the summer. With Goldman's reach and relationship with the Avs this should be a seen as a positive development for the long term prospects of the club.
Since all of the team and fan inspired groups I mentioned above are relatively new and untested, the question might be asked, "How do you know these type of groups will gain traction and create a fun atmosphere at hockey games?" Besides pointing to the well established supporters groups at soccer clubs all across the world including in the United States, maybe the best example can be found in Music City U.S.A.
While the people from Nashville who form Cellblock 303 might not call themselves a supporters section, they certainly fit the most important criteria in my mind. They bring the noise. The most important part of supporters groups is the level of energy they bring to an arena. Another reason they are a good example is their longevity. The group has been together over a decade and has grown larger as well .