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04-22-2013, 02:11 PM
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Originally Posted by MNNumbers View Post
Question for Wings fans:

It was posted above that ST sales for the Wings spiked when the new alignment was revealed, especially from Canada.

My question: I didn't know the Wings had attendance and ST issues to start with? Is this true? Not that the franchise is in any trouble, mind you. It is just interesting.
The Wings had about 14K STHs, and a waiting list of 10K or thereabouts, going into the 2005 lockout. (My numbers may be off slightly as this info is several years old in my memory banks, so I'll try to confirm later.) From about 2002-2008, they held ticket prices steady-- no increase in price at all. The Michigan economy preceded the rest of the country in declining prior to the 2008 Bubble. Ilitch actually kept the GM sponsorship in place when they were reorganizing and thus no longer paying the Wings anything as a token of appreciation for all the years of support. His father had also worked there, iirc, thus he felt there was some loyalty he wanted to show towards the company.

After the return from that 2005 lockout, the STH base steadily eroded, in spite of the Cup win in 2008. People continued to move out of the state. [Heck, even I'm an example. I was a Wings STH and I recently moved to the West Coast from Ann Arbor, MI.]

They revamped pricing about 3 years ago, introducing multiple tiers so they could charge more for the premium seats, while trying to keep the average Joe seats more affordable. They still claim to sell out Joe Louis arena, but they really have to work a lot harder. One thing that helps them greatly is a fantastic cable deal with Fox Sports Detroit.

From my own experience, I know that the tickets that were easiest to sell (if you couldn't attend a game) were any games against Canadian and Eastern Conference teams, along with any Western team that was considered a top contender. (Chicago today, Colorado a few years back, etc.) You could charge the moon for games against the Leafs, Habs, or Bruins. Never had any trouble selling any tickets for any Canadian visitor either. When it comes to hockey, Michigan is like an extension of Ontario. Most Michiganders will preferentially tune in the CBC for coverage if they can get the signal.

This is why I believe Wings management wanted back into the East, in addition to the travel and time zone factors. They're on record saying that they will lose an entire generation of fans because so many of their road games were on very late, well beyond the time younger fans could stay up to watch games.

Finally, and obviously, with a regular parade of NE teams into the Joe, you're going to get more of the Ontario fan base coming to Detroit who may only be peripheral Wings fans, and/or live in those families or towns with divided loyalties.

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