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01-17-2013, 03:49 PM
  #63
stigs17
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Excellent analysis All Alfie. Right on point for point.

Like other astute folks on here, I am more disappointed in the lack of creativity in the minor perks being thrown to the dedicated season ticket holder (STH), who, along with corporate sponsors, ultimately play the largest role in determining the long-term viability of a small-market team. The 'benefits' feel like an afterthought. In response to the vultures attacking STH on here, I don't want or expect free goodies. But I do expect to be valued more than someone who buys a few games here and there.

Moving forward, the Sens' major focus should be aimed at retaining current season ticket holders (who pay for 44 games several months in advance, not including hiked playoff games) as opposed to part-time casual fans looking for handouts. In Canada - the only true comparable for those in the know - we rank 7th out of 7 teams by a mile in season ticket holders as a percentage of arena capacity. Almost every other Canadian team has lengthy waiting lists to buy part seasons at near gate prices (which are significantly higher than Ottawa). This is more an indictment on the transient nature of Ottawa, thus I feel sympathy for the Sens in this regard.

Further compounding matters, they have a sizeable number of Ottawa Habs and Leafs fans to deal with, including a disturbing number of phantoms whose apparent support for Ottawa evaporates the moment when the chips are down and their real team comes to town. I suspect there are easily 3,000-5,000 STH who pose as Sens fans when it is convenient. This is unique to Ottawa; even in the most storied rivalry in North America, BoSox fans do not invade Yankee stadium and mercilessly boo Jeter every time he takes the plate. Try to boo Ortiz at Fenway and you're liable to get doused in unknown liquids and stalked (of not beaten) after the game. Read the stories from mild-mannered Canuck fans at the 2011 Cup Finals.

Season tickets are the most valuable asset to a smaller-market team, for even modest season ticket gains stabilize their guaranteed revenue stream while minimizing the need for aggressive game-to-game marketing. Most NFL teams have 90 percent season ticket holders, a large reason (TV deals as well) they are the most successful league in North America.

Despite popular belief from whiners and the ill-informed in Ottawa (which make up the vast majority of the populace), affordable ticket pricing is NOT the issue. For years, upwards of 75 percent of all games have offered $15-25 Cola Zone, $20 Subway sub games, $99 four packs and a wealth of savvy game-day promotions any other Canadian city could only dream of. Even planning ahead and lucking out on season sales in waiting rooms, the cheapest ticket to Toronto and Montreal is over $50, and you might get 1 or 2 games before sellouts. The Sens' biggest issue is NOT finding new promotions aimed at fickle fans. Their primary issue is attracting a strong season ticket base of 44+ game a year folks, as we are the ones who guarantee stability over the long term.

From my visits to and observations of several key markets throughout North America, below are 18 simple yet meaningful ways the team can augment their value to both season ticket holders (STH) and/or casual fans.

1. Post the team practice schedule online. Open up SBP/Sensplex for all team practices, like they do in Montreal, San Jose and most other NHL rinks. If they are concerned about being distracted by swarms of fans, check the modest - and well-behaved - groups attending the preseason camp. The simple fan-friendly change would be cash flow positive for the team with concession sales and impulse visits to Sensations & the box office. Would also be nice to see the occasional visiting team skate as well. An annual red vs black scrimmage on the Rideau canal poses another opportunity. Sad that so many U.S. markets have beaten Ottawa to the punch on an outdoor Heritage game.

2. For STH, offer post-practice meet-and-greets with a designated player. One player per week meets and signs for 60-90 minutes. Outside of a rare dealership promo to the public with the same players, the frenzied STH pickup and a posh Casino event aimed at elitists with money to burn, hardcore fans have no opportunity to interact with players. For a league that boasts how well their players are available to the media, fans continue to be largely shut out. Have a player join the post-game show at the Molson Brew Pub, and not just rushed in and out by Sens entourage, but actually stick around and sign autographs. Organize a booth on the main concourse for scratched/injured players to interact with fans instead of playing with their phones in the press box. More player limo entrances at Gate 1, as seen at the season opener in 2011.

3. Offer monthly STH meetings with the coaching staff and management to discuss strategy, team and league matters. These have been eroding in recent years.

4. Offer a customized jersey of our choosing to each STH account and include a scanning chip in the sleeve offering 25-35% off concessions. They instituted this in Tampa Bay last season. Very clever since it both benefits the fan and the team by providing real savings while incentivizing STH to wear the home team jersey instead of the usual TOR/MTL/BOS/EDM/VAN/CGY which dominate SBP even when said team isn't playing. Also, it does not alienate casual fans, as they never see the reduced price for STH.

5. Speaking of concessions, maintain the opening day 2011-12 prices. The $1 mid-season hike (which arrived just in time for the All-Star Weekend and remained for the season) at Deli 111 & 212 was noticed and not appreciated. How about some "Opening Night 1992" nights with 1992 prices? To one suggestion thrown on here, a 25 cent beer night would be ill-advised ... remember the disco fiasco in Chicago and drunken idiocy?

6. Introduce unique, valuable promotional giveaways like figurines, bobbleheads, Alfie memorabilia, 8x10 photos, team patches past & present, 24"x36" ad-free player posters, 2 for 1 golf, massage etc. for each and EVERY game. And not just for kids, but all fans. Enough with the window decals. Maintain the Score mini-mags, but print more than 4 per year (there used to be 7 + playoffs). Along with the elimination of the pocket schedules, this is just another cheap cost-cutting measure.

7. Keep the 12 Gold games per year so STH have flexibility within the category for the games they want (they were scaled back to 8 this year, and 4 for the shortened season rendering the SSH package both less flexible and less valuable). Those of us who cannot attend every game know that these are the only games one can consistently sell at or above cost. Incidentally, these are also the ONLY games that a STH can get below that of walk-up fans. Hence the real value for STH is in Gold games.

8. Offer guaranteed free parking to all current STH for the lifetime of their account. No need to scalp us here for parking on farmland when we already commit to 44+ games.

9. For the freebie game STH don't need an extra undesirable Bronze game of the team's choosing to give away. Instead, as a real goodwill gesture to loyal STH - who ultimately determine the fiscal health of the team and continue to pay salaries - if they really want to give something away, a non-prime concert of the STH's choice would be more appropriate. Melnyk's Eagles concert went a long way with STH, and a smaller gesture would do similar at a time when many feel alienated by greedy owners and players (with 7 to 10-year salary doubling times) who are completely apathetic and ignorant to those of us who operate the worst economy since the 1930s.

10. For STH, playoff seats are held at regular season prices for the first TWO rounds (hardly a concession with zero rounds won since 2007), with capped increases for the Eastern/Cup finals. Bye-bye 400% markups.

11. Offer STH a user-friendly online ticket map for each game enabling STH to choose extra seats via an online system which shows the actual available seats (like most major events have been doing since 2010 - see ticketmaster). Trading in my row A for row H is hardly equitable or attractive.

12. What happened to the Bingo game that was included in STH accounts in prior years? Another lost carrot. How hard would it have been to throw in a few vouchers to the .200 winning percentage Ottawa 67s, who already play in front of an 80-90% empty SBP? Jeff Hunt already benefits from a world-class facility that dwarfs the dilapidated, ceiling-shedding Civic Center.

13. For each game, upgrade a STH to a pair of "IN THE GAME" seats in the between the benches right behind where Ian Mendes occasionally reports. I've been in there, it's deep enough for players/benches/coaches and wider than 3 club seats, surely two fans and a reporter will fit. They could easily insert two seats there like they do in some U.S. rinks.

14. Why doesn't SBP offer tours? It's one of the only pro stadiums I can think of that doesn't offer anything. A well-designed tour that navigates the press box, video production room, locker rooms, training facility, video study room and other behind the scenes areas would be a worthy addition.

15. Speaking of tours, why no Binghamton tours? They are the hottest team in the AHL. Again, the Sens could offer a competitive price for STH.

16. When you aggressively market a storewide Sens store sale, make sure it is accurate. Sticks and autographs are exempt. Ditto any Ottawa 67s memorabilia. Evidently Jeff Hunt thinks his league-worst .200 winning percentage 67s are above the Senators.

For the in-game experience:

17. Bring back the Sens theme for each and every 2 minute countdown, and open each game with a green laser light show like they do in LA. It's very impressive and electrifies the building.

18. Bring back the ice girls (no snowsuits, please, think figure skaters). There's a reason 80% of the teams have them.

***

This is just the tip of the iceberg, but there are more cost-effective ideas on this list than I've seen from the Sens since the last lockout. I should be on the payroll as a consultant. Like most other STH I have spoken to, we couldn't care less about $1 popcorn and 50% off nights. It penalizes the STH by making our tickets near-impossible to sell on the odd nights we can't go.

That said, big props to the Senators for their valuable charitable work (the Sens foundation is the #2 fundraiser in Ottawa - worthy of an A+ here). Also enjoyed the chaotic STH event last night and seeing some of the wonderful staff who make it function smoothly. Going through the filled dressing room and training areas was really neat. Done a number of NFL stadium tours and very few take your through the home lockers, especially if the team is at home with all equipment.

Be informed.
GO SENS GO


Last edited by stigs17: 01-17-2013 at 07:33 PM.
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