The San Francisco Bulls have seen a significant drop in attendance at the Cow Palace since the Sharks returned to work after an NHL lockout that wiped out the first three months of the season.
The Bulls, a first-year East Coast Hockey League team affiliated with the Sharks, are averaging 3,072 fans in six home dates since San Jose began its abbreviated 48-game season Jan. 20. Before that, the Bulls were drawing 4,681 fans per game.
Overall, the Bulls' average attendance is 4,324 in 27 home dates, which ranks 14th in the 23-team league. One of those games was a Dec. 17 matchup against Stockton at HP Pavilion that drew 12,881. Subtract that game and the Bulls' average drops to 3,995.
Twice this season, the Bulls and Sharks played at home on the same date. San Francisco drew a combined 6,363 fans in those two contests.
Some of the Bulls' attendance problems likely are attributable to the team's poor play. They are tied with the Evansville IceMen for the second-fewest points in the ECHL at 49. Only Bakersfield has fewer points with 41.
The Bulls play nine of their final 12 games at the Cow Palace, including Friday night against the Alaska Aces, who lead the ECHL with 94 points. San Francisco will enter the game having lost nine of 12.