South Mississippi loses when we don't support sporting events

By Brad Kessie - bio | email

The Sea Wolves brass wants the 2010 all star game. I think that's great. I'm not a season ticket holder anymore, but I still support the team. And getting the game means hockey will be around for at least another season.

But here's my fear. The ECHL will award the game to Mississippi. All stars will come to Biloxi next season. And the coliseum will be empty.

Think I'm wrong? Have you been to a Sea Wolves game this season?

The loyal fans still show up. And that's great. But the casual fans seem to have given up on hockey. Which means the Wolves' Den is a lonely place.

And it's not just for hockey.

Were you at the Southern Miss/Ole Miss basketball game a couple of weeks ago? I was. Unfortunately, the arena had a lot more empty seats than fans that night.

Key supporters who help sell sponsorships for games like that admitted to me that finding an audience for USM and Ole Miss was not easy. What's worse is the week before that contest, Southern Miss played two games at Gulfport High School. One observer told me 500 people showed up.

I don't get it.

Somebody needs to explain to me why significant sporting events come to our front door, and people don't support them.

Okay, I'll admit the tickets are often overpriced. But that doesn't stop Saints fans from packing the dome, or Hornets fans from selling out the New Orleans Arena.

The Coliseum had its 15th Hoopsfest last weekend, and it was a big success. In fact, ticket sales hit an all-time high. To me, that proves that a market exists for sports in south Mississippi.

Next year, we may get a chance to show off our community pride. If the ECHL brings its all star game back to Biloxi, or if Southern Miss books another basketball game on the coast, lets all buy tickets and go to the games.