***********Can Wonder Football Expect to See Bigger Gates in 2017****************
Changing times, economic upheaval, realignment, and a changing social demographic in K-Town has taken a toll on attendance at Wonder football games over the last decade and a half from 2000 to the present date. I can remember a time you would be hard pressed to find a premium 50 yard line seat at Kannapolis Memorial Stadium on both the home and visitor's side for just about any given contest. Not so much true over the last several seasons in K-Town. A lot has changed since those glory days of packing out KMS for home football contests, and it's hard to lay blame on any one given reason for it. Here are just a few insights from the editor to make you go hmmmm, and if this makes others think, and some of the diehards to get off the couch and back out to the games this season then mission accomplished!!
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that over the last four years in the MECKA 4A conference, attendance at Wonder football games have taken a drastic hit. If I were a betting man I would say that attendance has fallen well over half of what the norm would be for Kannapolis football, and that even goes for the Wonder faithful as well. Sad to say, but I must call it as I see it. What has happened that keeps all those rabid Wonder football fans who use to pack KMS away from the stadium on Friday nights? Has loyalty waned over the years for the home team? Are fans finding other things to do on Friday nights? or have we come to a place in time where what we once knew and loved in K-Town is but a distant memory, never to be re captured?
Now I don't lay this problem solely on the steps of the Wonder faithful, because our rivals down South (the Concord Spiders) have experienced the same thing in their own home stands as well. I have spoken with several loyal CHS supporters who echo the same sentiment, and I have attended several CHS playoff games over the past several years, and attendance there is nowhere what it once was in the glory days of old.
When Cannon Mills corporation finally closed it's doors for good back in 2003, a good cross section of Wonder supporters were uprooted and disenfranchised. Many good folks had to leave Kannapolis to find work in other areas, and some moved out of town completely. If I had to place blame on anything for this attendance deficit, I would place blame on this more than anything else. Slimmer school participation among students is yet another big factor to consider. Kids today seem to have more things to fill their down time away from school than what most of us had back in the day. Social Media, telephones and an overall disinterest in anything school oriented is of no consequence to kids today. Spirit campaigns are almost non existent today. Pre game pep rallies for every game in the mornings or afternoon in the stadium rarely happens unless it's a rivalry game. I don't know about you, but those pre game pep rallies in the mornings were great, and really got us jacked up for the games on Friday nights. This is something you and I have no control over, and must be a priority for those who can make it happen.
I can definitely say that the move to the Charlotte based IMECK 4A conference back in 2013 was yet another fatal blow to attendance. A total disinterest in playing those Charlotte schools kept many loyalist away, and I can safely say that because many have told me this personally through conversation and emails. Personally, I have never seen a Charlotte school come into Memorial Stadium with a good crowd other than Charlotte Catholic. I can honestly say that watching their attendance over the last four years at Memorial Stadium, and even their own venues only confirms my feelings about them.
Today Wonder fans are full of high expectations for the start of the 2017 season, and our first year back home. By home I mean the South Piedmont Conference 3A classification which has been home for the Wonders in 70 of their 86 seasons from 1930-1986. Two stints in the old CPC 4A from 1977-1980 and 1985-1988, and then a stint in the NPC 3A from 2001-2004, and finally the MECKA 4A from 2013-2016. With the much anticipated move, Wonder loyalist who come to every game rain or shine are clamouring for better times and bigger gates, but is a move back home really going to be what the doctor ordered, or are we just going to find that expectation grossly unrealistic. -The editor
***This editorial viewpoint is strictly that of the editor for Friday Nights in K-Town, and does not reflect the collective opinion of the Wonder Nation or that of A.L. Brown football ***