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February 14, 2024

Railers see bigger crowds in 2024, but attendance lags behind prior seasons as team makes playoff push

Photo | Courtesy of Worcester Railers HC A Worcester Railers game at the DCU Center in Worcester

The Worcester Railers moved into a potential playoff spot on Saturday thanks to a 4-3 victory against the Maine Mariners at Worcester’s DCU Center, played in front of an unusually large sellout crowd of 6,337 fans.

But even with this weekend’s big turnout, Worcester’s professional hockey team has some catching up to do if it hopes to match attendance numbers seen in prior seasons. 

With two months left in their 2023-2024 campaign, the Worcester Railers are drawing an average of 3,541 fans to the DCU Center, on pace to be their lowest attendance figure in its six seasons since the team was founded in 2017.

The Railers have attracted 92,067 fans through 26 home games this season, according to official attendance figures compiled by, a global hockey stats and scoring service, placing the team in 23rd out of 28th in league-wide average attendance figures. 

The team’s average per-game attendance figure of 3,541 is lower than last year’s figure of 3,934 and a 19.4% decrease from the Railer’s debut season of 2017-2018, where the team drew a record high of 4,393 fans per game. The team suspended operations during the 2020-2021 season as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite the decrease, fan interest appears to be increasing as the team fights for a spot in the ECHL’s Kelly Cup Playoffs. The nine games the Railers have hosted so far in 2024 have seen an average turnout of 4,157 fans. 

The team has seen a few promising figures in regards to season tickets for next season, and this year has seen an increase in single-game ticket sales, Railers President Stephanie Ramey said.

Image | Brad Kane
Stephanie Ramey, the president of the Worcester Railers

“We’ve made a very strong and focused effort on the single-game market,” Ramey said.  

The Jacksonville Icemen lead the ECHL in attendance during the 2023-2024 season, drawing 8,402 fans per game, while the Iowa Heartlanders sit in last, drawing 2,014 fans per game. 

Unlike Jacksonville – where the closest professional hockey team is more than 120 miles away – the Railers have a number of close-by professional squads, including the NHL’s Boston Bruins, and the American Hockey League’s Providence Bruins and Springfield Thunderbirds. 

PWHL Boston, a women’s hockey franchise playing at Lowell’s Tsongas Center in the Professional Women’s Hockey League, added to the region’s hockey scene when it made its debut this year. 

The Worcester Sharks, an AHL team that called Worcester home from 2006 to 2015, drew an average of 3,847 fans in their final season before their departure to San Jose, according to HockeyDB. 

The AHL’s Worcester IceCats, the city’s longest tenured hockey team that played at the DCU Center from 1994 to 2005, drew an average of 4,391 fans their final season before the team was moved to Illinois and renamed the Peoria Rivermen.

As of Wednesday, the Railers sit in 4th place in the North Division with 48 points, which would see them clinch the final divisional playoff spot. The Maine Mariners and the Trois-Rivières Lions sit behind them tied for 5th place, with 43 points each. 

The team has not qualified for the playoffs since its debut season in 2017-2018, where it lost in the first round series to the New York’s Adirondack Thunder four games to two. 

The Railer’s next home game is at 7:05 p.m on March 2 against the Trois-Rivières Lions. 

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