97-15585, 98-15404, 99-15547, 00-14991, 01-14224, 02-13165, 03-13229, 04-15467, 06-15582, 07-14985, 08-14820, 09-14875, 10-11989, 11-12188, 12-12421
Sorry, I don't see the downward trend right from the first season. I see downward trends because highschool dropout former NHL players think that knowing how to shoot a hockey puck gives them the business and marketing smarts to run a team.
Try looking at your own numbers, it starts at just under 16000 in 97, by 2003 it drops to barely over 13000, that isn't a downward trend? What kind of math are you using? It spikes a bit in 04, why? NEW ARENA, everyone checking out the NEW thing, after the NHL and NHLPA threw a season long hissyfit, the legions of fans that only you and Bettman seem to see couldn't fill the rink, not even as many as the first season, and the numbers begin to drop almost immediately. You keep trying to blame Moyes and Gretzky but the decliniong attendance was there long before them, you just don't want to see it, the bankruptcy didn't help, but it didn't cause the problem it just accelarated an existing trend. I've heard every excuse in the book, but excuses don't pay the bills. In good markets people will find a reason to go, in bad markets people will find an excuse not to go, I've heard nothing but excuses out of Phoenix, and their supporters.