LAFAYETTE — With all the factors working in their favor, the Louisiana IceGators are hoping to recapture some old magic and set some Southern Professional Hockey League history in the process.
The team is aiming to break the Fayetteville Fire Antz SPHL attendance record of 9,446 on Friday against the Pensacola Ice Flyers. To facilitate breaking the record, the team is selling general admission tickets at $5. The Cajundome’s capacity is 12,068, which is greater than any other SPHL arena.
“If we were to sell the Cajundome out, there’s nobody that can take that record away from us unless they added another team in another building,” IceGators General Manager Louis Dumont said.
The plan was hatched two months ago, when Dumont saw a window of opportunity.
Both the Cajuns softball and baseball teams will be playing in Alabama this weekend. Football is still a week away from beginning spring camp and the Mardi Gras season is in the rearview mirror.
Dumont also feels that Lafayette has a predilection toward record-setting numbers. He pointed out record sales at three separate national food chains that opened up shops in Lafayette.
But Dumont is also intimately familiar with historically large crowds. He wants his players to know what it’s like to play in front of more than 11,000 fans, as he did when he played for the IceGators in the late ’90s.
“I thought for one thing it’d be cool, Lafayette’s all about breaking records,” Dumont said. “The other is that I played in front of 11,700 fans every game here. To feel that passion and the emotion of the Cajun fans, the people who live here, was amazing.
“I’d love for our players to experience something that was a little crazy.”
The IceGators are 20-16-7 this season and have scored a league-high 139 goals. Dumont said the organization has seen its attendance rise for the fourth consecutive season, but it’s still not where he wants it to be.
“We have the excitement, we have the action, everything — the Cajundome is a great facility — we’re just missing the people,” Dumont said. “That’s all it is. That’s one thing I really feel is missing.”
Dumont hopes that the $5 tickets, which are a 50 percent reduction from the usual cheap seat prices, will bring families out that have chosen not to come to games because of cost. Dumont said he saw Pensacola have success with a recent $5 ticket night and decided to give it a shot.
He was encouraged by IceGators season ticket holders, who were in favor of the one-game price drop in order to get more people into the Cajundome.
With an influx of people expected at Friday night’s game, Dumont advised spectators to arrive early for tickets to avoid long waits.
Dumont wouldn’t say with confidence that he thought the record would fall Friday, but he acknowledged that the team’s office was far busier on Mondays that it normally is.
“We want the record, and we’re doing everything we can,” Dumont said. “We set a lofty goal. We’ll see how it goes.”