Tag: Ticket Sales

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

A brief note on the Ottawa Senators and ticket hoarding practices…

Toronto, ON Since outrage over ridiculous sales practices around the NHL is pretty much my thing this season, I now turn my attention away from the Winnipeg Jets and toward the Ottawa Senators. Recently, the Sens notified the fans in their email database that they were making changes to their ticket sales practices. Evidently, the Senators organization is upset that there is a visibly large presence of “visiting” fans in attendance at their games, and it appears as though they believe that unfairly puts their team at a disadvantage. Good thing NHL players aren’t being paid big bucks to perform well under adversity, eh? Oh wait…

It has been a few seasons since I have been to Scotiabank Place, but the last time I was at a Sens home game, the organization already had a graduated pricing system (as many teams do) that would see fans being charged higher prices for games versus major rivals. That would be the appropriate way to keep visiting fans “out,” as they would really need to put down the cash in order to come all the way to town to support their team – supply and demand, and all that.  The higher ticket prices significantly raises the costs of the trip since REAL visiting fans are also paying big money for hotels, gas/flights, and food. Unfortunately, the Sens believe that higher prices for rival games is not enough, and are now withholding tickets from the public by implementing a “restricted” pre-sale system. The email reads, “The only restriction with this offer is that we are asking you to ensure that the tickets are being used by Senators fans and not re-sold to the general public. Any seats being re-sold will be subject to cancellation and loss of privileges with respect to future pre-sales.”

Maybe this just irritates me as a traveling fan, who is often not making appearances at NHL arenas with the intention of actually supporting EITHER team. My life would definitely be a lot harder if all 30 NHL teams were preventing out-of-towners from taking in a game. However, is it really the traveling fans that are suffering from this kind of ticket hoarding practice, or is it the fine citizens of our Nation’s capital that are going to feel the most uneasy about these changes?

Let’s be realistic for a minute. In their current embodiment, the Ottawa Senators have been active in the NHL since 1992. Therefore, true “lifelong” Sens fans are currently in their late teens and early 20’s (at the oldest). Does that mean that hockey fans didn’t exist in Ottawa prior to 1992? Obviously not. What this does suggest, however, is that there are probably a lot of locals who are actually lifelong Leafs, Habs, Bruins, or etc fans, who support the Sens 38 games of the season, but can’t wait for the chance to switch their jersey 3 times a year.   Although, I’m sure not much will change for these people, but I for one would feel a lot less comfortable wearing an opposing jersey or bringing a friend, who is a fan of the visiting team, to a game with this new system. On the other hand, I can totally see shit disturbers being even more motivated to show up as the ultimate fan of the OTHER team. Anyway, the main question here is, are the fans they are attempting to keep away actually from out of town, or are they simply locals whose only sin is supporting the NHL in a non-Sens capacity prior to 1992 (or for whatever reason)? Team allegiances die hard, after all.

Of course, this new system is flawed. Most people are in the Sens database if they have ever bought a ticket to a Sens game, and if it is true that those people are “visiting” fans, then they are not at any less of a disadvantage than they were before. Now, if the Sens decide to systematically remove people not in that 613 area code from their database, then they will be entering a whole new level of crazy and douche baggery. At the end of the day, all NHL teams should be thankful that ANY fans fill their building night in and night out, and not be in the habit of discriminating against paying customers based on where they are from or what colour their sweater is. I know Sens season ticket holders who are located in Toronto. Do you think the Leafs are barring the gates when they try to see their favourite team take to the ice at the ACC? No. Maybe the Sens should show the same courtesy. And to think I was actually rooting for the Sens to do well this season, but I suppose my 416 ass won’t be scoring any playoff tickets if they did make the postseason anyway. Oh well…

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Thursday, November 26th, 2009

The Coyotes Sand Storm Sale: Another nail in the Glendale coffin.

Just a quick one today to talk about the Coyotes latest ticket sales stunt. I mentioned in the offseason that, as someone with previous experience in ticket sales and marketing strategies for a hockey team, I would be beside myself if I were in charge of fixing the Coyotes attendance situation. In previous seasons, the Coyotes organization has tried almost everything. In 2003, they built a beautiful new facility hoping that the Jobing.com Arena wow-factor would be the major draw that it should have been. Instead, local “fans” felt inconvenienced by the 15 minute commute along the 101 Loop. Does this relocation justify abandoning your team? The Senators don’t play in Ottawa, instead they face off in the pain-in-the-ass-to-get-to no frills Scotiabank Place in Kanata, Ontario. Perhaps, you’ve never been to Kanata, and therefore, have never seen the bitch mother traffic on the 417. Let’s just say leaving your downtown hotel at 5PM will often make you late for a 7PM puck drop. Yet, the Sens fans are packing the barn night after night.

Sorry, that turned into a little rant unintentionally. I just can’t believe that a facility as nice as Jobing.com Arena is being under appreciated. Mind you, I wouldn’t want to go there now, what with the whorey Swine Flu making a nightly appearance. Anyway, it should be said, before I keep going, that no one thinks Coyotes fans aren’t real fans. The people being targeted are the non-fans; people who can’t be bothered to check out the team in the first place. We all know you exist; unfortunately there aren’t enough of you. (But that’s another very long headache of an argument.) As you will learn, this sale isn’t going to help you in that department.

Anyway, back to previously failed sales attempts. In the 2007-2008 season, the Coyotes decided to go overboard with the giveaways approach – the old, “Let’s try to get people in the doors by giving them shiny collectibles.” That season, the Coyotes hit their peak deficit and found themselves $117M in the red for that year alone. Last season, the Coyotes appeared to try the opposite approach. I was at their fan appreciation night, and let me tell you, they chose to “appreciate” their fans by giving them nothing at all – not a puck, not a towel, nada. They even allegedly had a free booze night! What is left for them to do? How about give away all their tickets?

This week, the Coyotes announced their Sand Storm Sale. Essentially on Black Friday until “Cyber Monday” (whatever that is), hockey starved fans can purchase lower bowl tickets for all remaining home games for only $25! Sounds good, right? Fans will start flocking to Jobing.com Arena, and all will be right with the world, yes? Wrong. No, you’re not crazy; this is the same sales trick the ‘Yotes tried for their home opener this season, except they did that one the right way. They positioned their “Welcome Back White Out Sale” as a way to welcome the fans back, after a very long and trying offseason, by giving them a break on ticket price for the home opener. Of course, it’s not hard to see that they were trying to draw in new blood, and wine ‘n’ dine prospective new season ticket holders. However, FAIL, after the home opener, attendance dropped drastically to average major junior hockey club numbers.

You see, cheapening the product, which is what giving away tickets, or a drastic drop in ticket price will do to both the value of the product and the value of the team and the players, is what, those in the business would call, “a last resort.” Sure, there may be asses in the seats for the remaining home games this season, but at what cost? Here are a few:

• Most current season ticket holders will become enraged by the major discount “non-fans” are receiving. And season seat holders are the most valuable fans to any sports team, and they know that they deserve to appreciated as such.

• The sales team has valued the Coyotes on par with the San Antonio Rampage, and most other AHL teams (some teams charge a lot more than this), by reducing prices this drastically.

• Prospective new customers/fans will regard the value of NHL/Coyotes hockey as $25, and will not be so quick to start paying full pop once the sale is over. Basically, they are targeting the “cheap entertainment” crowd, and NHL hockey is a luxury for everyone. We already saw proof of this after the White Out.

Anyway, although I don’t agree with this sales approach, that’s not to say that I wouldn’t take advantage of it. My lower bowl ticket for the Coyotes game last season was $180, but it also included free food, free booze, and Vince Vaughn. So, I could get seven games in for the price of one with this promotion. Of course, I’m avoiding Arizona like the disgusting diseased pig that resides there, but that’s not to say that you shouldn’t jump all over this tomorrow. Unfortunately, the only people who will benefit from this are the players. I’m sure it will be a lot easier to play in front of a full house.

Should the Coyotes lower their ticket prices? Absolutely. Five hours along the I-10 in Anaheim, I could go and sit, and have sat, in the same seats for exactly half the price, and that’s the same price range for most hockey teams around the league. I’m not really sure what they are doing down there in the Coyotes sales department, but to be fair, they did try to give away free tickets on certain nights that the Coyotes won at home. Unfortunately, they forgot the major part of the equation – the Coyotes had to actually win. So, if you want to plan a golf trip to Pigland, I mean Scottsdale, then check out http://Coyotes.NHL.com for details.

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