Approximately 3,500 people took in the first game of the Windsor Express in November.

Since then, the local National Basketball League of Canada games have attracted one tenth that number of fans.

The average attendance of 350 fans is approximately one third of what the team previously said it needed to draw each night in order to break even.

Royal Church tried to start a professional basketball team in Windsor nine years ago and couldn't make a go of it.

He now volunteers with the Express, organizing a school outreach program with the team. He believes that's what the team needs to do to attract more fans.

"We're going to try to win over those young fans who are just looking for a team to cheer for and we'd like to be that team," Church said.

Chuck Smith is a season ticket holder. He likes the team but says winning is the key.

"I think they've got the players now they can compete with any team in the league and fans will come if they keep winning," Smith said.

The Express are 10-12 and still in playoff contention.

Ticket prices questioned

Coun. Alan Halberstadt believes if the team gets into the playoffs it might attract more fans. But he said the ticket prices are a bit too high. The best seats going for $65 dollars.

By comparison, the NBA's Detroit Pistons, who play in Auburn Hills, Mich., currently offer four lower-bowl tickets, four drinks and a pizza for $115US.

Halberstadt said maybe Express tickets should be priced lower.

"They get people in the house and then they'll see the product and then hopefully more will come back," he said.

The team pays a set rental fee to play at the WFCU Centre. However, the city did pay approximately $150,000 for a new hardwood floor which could be used for other events.

In a report to council, staff projected revenues of $19,000 from ticket surcharges and $27,700 from concession sales. the report also called the purchase of a floor "low risk." The city had projected an "potential incremental profit" of $46,720.

Halberstadt doubts the team could expect any more investment from the city to keep the team in Windsor should things not go well.

"Once we start doing that, it doesn't set a very good precedent," he said. "I would say that would be a tough sell on their part. [It's hard] for the taxpayers to pick up more than we already have."

Church is not ready to give up on the team, though.

"It may take well into the second year before it actually starts to reap some benefit," he said.

Windsor Express team management could not be reached for comment.