PHILADELPHIA, Pa. … A crowd of 45,653 fans – by far the largest gathering ever in the 76-year history of the American Hockey League – packed Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia on Friday evening to watch the Adirondack Phantoms take on the Hershey Bears in the third AHL outdoor game ever played.
Adirondack rallied for a thrilling 4-3 victory, tying the game with 20.8 seconds left in regulation and winning it 58 seconds into overtime.
The figure more than doubled the previous single-game attendance mark in the AHL. Last year’s outdoor event between Connecticut and Providence drew 21,673 fans at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Conn., and the inaugural outdoor game between Syracuse and Binghamton in 2010 saw a crowd of 21,508 fans pack the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse.
The city of Philadelphia is now home to both the regular-season and playoff records for single-game AHL attendance. In 2005, a capacity crowd of 20,103 fans packed the Wachovia Center (now the Wells Fargo Center) to watch the Phantoms clinch the 2005 Calder Cup championship.
The Bears and Phantoms were fierce in-state rivals during the 13 seasons that the Phantoms called Philadelphia home before moving to Glens Falls, N.Y., in 2009.
In addition to the record crowd in attendance, the game was televised live across Canada on Sportsnet and locally on The Comcast Network in Philadelphia. It will be rebroadcast on NHL Network in the U.S. on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET.
In operation since 1936, the AHL continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 85 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and more than 6.5 million fans per season have attended AHL games across North America since 2001.