On Friday, Milwaukee Admirals owner Harris Turer told Milwaukee Business Journal that he expects the American Hockey League franchise to move from the Bradley Center to the UWM Panther Arena in time for the 2017-18 season.
This should not be surprising to anyone that has been keeping a close eye on the Milwaukee arena discussions. While using the arena for things other than Milwaukee Bucks basketball has been mentioned, Admirals hockey has not been one of those things, much less fitting the building to host hockey on any level. Since there hasn't been any discussion in that regard, Turer is making the smart move for his franchise. It's probably a move that the Admirals should have made a while ago. While they ranked 11th in average attendance in 2014-15, it was with just 5,809 people coming through the turnstiles on average. That leads to an awfully cavernous Bradley Center to play in, but a fairly boisterous crowd at the Panther Arena. Heck, it'd be larger than the crowds that UWM draws in the building that carries their name!
But the real question is this: How would not having to compete with the Admirals for dates at the mostly approved new arena help Marquette?
During the 2014-15 Marquette regular season (meaning from November 7, because MU could have played on that Friday through March 7), the Admirals played 27 home games. 10 of these games came in the college basketball wasteland that is more commonly referred to as "Friday night." Generally speaking, because Saturday is such a big day for college hoops, there's very few games schedule on a Friday, so it's really to Marquette's benefit that the Ads were so busy on those nights anyway.
Eight of the games - five on Saturday and three on Sunday - came over a weekend. The Saturday games were all 7pm starts and didn't preclude Marquette from playing afternoon games. Would a 7pm Saturday start draw better than a 1:30pm start for the Golden Eagles? Depends on the opponent, as MU drew a paid crowd of 17,961 against #6 Villanova on National Marquette Day before the Admirals played the Iowa
Energy Wild later that night, and that was with a Golden Eagles team that was 11-14 at the time. The Sunday games were all 3pm starts, which essentially means that Marquette would be unable to play a game at all on those Sundays, given the length of a hockey game and the arena turnaround time.
The rest of the Admirals' home dates were scattered amongst Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. It's only a total of nine games across four months on those nights, though, with only Wednesday averaging one usage per month. Does it make things easier for Marquette, the Big East, and Fox Sports if they don't have to dance around those days? Sure, of course it does, it's just not that many days in the big picture.
Will the Admirals moving across State Street make things easier for Marquette when it comes to scheduling? Yes. Will it be noticeably important to the program's finances? Not as much as you might think. Having quality opponents is much more important to how big of a crowd you can draw for each game, and having a winning program is always going to be more important than how good your opponent is.
(h/t @PaintTouches for pointing out the news and the possible schedule improvement)