Carolina Hurricanes: Will fan support increase with playoff contention after March Madness?

RALEIGH, NC - MARCH 4: Young Carolina Hurricanes fans bang on the glass prior to an NHL game against the Winnipeg Jets on March 4, 2018 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images)
RALEIGH, NC - MARCH 4: Young Carolina Hurricanes fans bang on the glass prior to an NHL game against the Winnipeg Jets on March 4, 2018 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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The Carolina Hurricanes could lose some of the spotlight in Raleigh with the beginning of the NCAA Tournament, during March Madness.

This is a question that could be answered from years of research with the Carolina Hurricanes in an area dominated by college basketball fans. Are the Canes going to have more of a focus from the residents of Raleigh-Durham, NC, once the college basketball season concludes. We’re in the midst of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament starting here soon.

Considering the Duke Blue Devils and North Carolina Tar Heels are once again a part of the festivities, alongside the NC State Wolfpack, the attention of the Triangle will be huge. Duke and UNC have already met three times this season, including once in the ACC Tournament, to the tune of two victories for the Tar Heels. Even schools like N.C. Central and Davidson are taking part in the NCAA Tournament festivities this year.

One challenge that the Canes have to overcome this time of year is taking the attention away from March Madness, and keeping the fans engaged in PNC Arena. Since the new majority owner, Tom Dundon, is putting more of a focus on the fans this year, it will be interesting to see the difference in fan attendance when he is managing things.

Ultimately, the difference will be if the Canes stay in playoff contention for the final games of the regular season. If they can, the team will see the results in the atmosphere at home. The combination of the Canes staying in the thick of the playoff race, and having the new ownership push fan engagement could mean a real boost in attendance down the stretch.

The Canes have already seen a better atmosphere in PNC with some of the new promotions put into place from Dundon. If he can take advantage of all the camaraderie surrounding the local colleges, for men’s basketball, the Canes could see a direct benefit. College basketball is the primary sport in the Triangle, and the Canes play second fiddle this time of year.

Following through with a solid end to the March slate could put the Canes in prime position to pass competing squads like the Columbus Blue Jackets, Florida Panthers, and New Jersey Devils. The Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals seem too far out of reach in the Metropolitan Division.

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So, the answer to the question of the affect of March Madness surrounding PNC Arena, and the Canes, is that it could really help the organization if the front office plays it right. Also, the fans have something in common to rally around if the Canes do make the playoffs in 2018. Even if they’re divided between the fandom of UNC, Duke, NC State, etc.