It's not the fans man, it's not the fans. It's 25 plus years of fiasco after fiasco that has slowly eroded the fan base. Nary a winning season since 1979 (I think). Certainly not after 1980. Lots of fans coming out back then, but around that time, the guy who owned the team (Alan Waters??) sold it, and the ownership has been an issue ever since. Mismanagement going back to the 1980s. Internal squabbles becoming public going back to the 1980s. Players wondering if they're going to get their paycheque in the 1990s.
I had season tix in 1996, the year the Eastern Riders folded; I think they were $99 too, and it's a good thing because that's all I would have been able to afford back then.
I remember that year, the crowds were about the same as last year (2005), 17,000 or 19,000. I think the city rallied around the team in August of that year. We had one crowd of about 25,000, and with enough screaming and encouragement, our team won that game. Same thing with the next game, same sort of deal, and we won. A third game, something like 27,000 fans, all going nuts. Unfortunately, we lost that game, and the fan support died down.
Why? Because by 1996, the casual fans were starting to stay away.
Somebody locally on the radio said Ottawa has about 15,000 diehard fans. The remaining 13,000 seats are going to be filled by cultivating fans. And you need good, steady management with deep pockets to cultivate a winning product. We haven't had it.