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Old
03-02-2005, 02:24 AM
  #1
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Fan Support in Buffalo.........

Greetings and salutations from Hamilton Ontario Canada............

The topic here for discussion is Fan Support for the Sabres hockey club in Buffalo........How is it in your opinion?.......could it be better?.....it use to be better before........what would you do to help bring back the fans to the Sabres home games in droves like this hockey club once use to do before?........do you think Buffalo can continue to support NHL hockey in their City?......even in a City like Buffalo whose population numbers have been cut in half since 1950?......and even if the NHL fixes up the economics of the game?.........where have ALL the Sabres fans disappeared too?.........How can we bring them back?.........

Let's hear what you have to say regarding Fan Support for the Sabres in Buffalo.

Cheers!

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03-02-2005, 05:27 AM
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Western New York is truly struggling economically. When the Sabres played in the AUD ticket prices were far more affordable then they currently are. The economics of the area and the games makes it very difficult for the Sabres to attrack crowds of 18,000 a night.

In many seats accross the HSBC, it is more expensive to attend a Sabres game then it is to attend a Bills game. That seems odd because there are only 8 Bills games a season compared to 41 Sabres.

All small market teams, including the Sabres desperately need the new CBA to reflect the true economics of the game today. Ticket prices have to be lowered to consistently attrack fans. If the new CBA doesn't achieve this then I wouldn't be surprised if the Sabres future lies elsewhere.

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03-02-2005, 08:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by krt88
Western New York is truly struggling economically. When the Sabres played in the AUD ticket prices were far more affordable then they currently are. The economics of the area and the games makes it very difficult for the Sabres to attrack crowds of 18,000 a night.

In many seats accross the HSBC, it is more expensive to attend a Sabres game then it is to attend a Bills game. That seems odd because there are only 8 Bills games a season compared to 41 Sabres.

All small market teams, including the Sabres desperately need the new CBA to reflect the true economics of the game today. Ticket prices have to be lowered to consistently attrack fans. If the new CBA doesn't achieve this then I wouldn't be surprised if the Sabres future lies elsewhere.
Is the Sabres financial stability in question because of the city's struggles? Yes.

But, I don't think that a cap is going to help the Sabres lower ticket prices. The proposed cap is already more than what the Sabres spend on payroll. If anything they'll be spending to the limit to stay competitive which will increase costs. However, the cap benefits the organization because it can more easily afford top tier players rather then all of them going to Detroit or Colorado or New York, etc...

And the attendence is down because the product is poor. Are ticket prices high? Yes. But, people will pay to go see a winning team. There is no point for casual fans to spend their hard earned cash to see the hometown team lose time after time. As we were closer to the playoffs last year the attendence went up. Did the Sabres lower ticket prices midway through the season? No. The team was good. That's why the cap works in the NFL and will work well in the NHL. Parity.

It gives every team hope that they will win it "this year". Or if not this year then next year. Its all about hope.

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03-02-2005, 05:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monkey_00
Greetings and salutations from Hamilton Ontario Canada............

The topic here for discussion is Fan Support for the Sabres hockey club in Buffalo........How is it in your opinion?.......could it be better?.....it use to be better before........what would you do to help bring back the fans to the Sabres home games in droves like this hockey club once use to do before?........do you think Buffalo can continue to support NHL hockey in their City?......even in a City like Buffalo whose population numbers have been cut in half since 1950?......and even if the NHL fixes up the economics of the game?.........where have ALL the Sabres fans disappeared too?.........How can we bring them back?.........

Let's hear what you have to say regarding Fan Support for the Sabres in Buffalo.

Cheers!
One thing that is often overlooked in regards to the marketing of the Sabres (and thus gate) is the near-total lack of exposure in So. Ontario since Team Rigas took over. At one point, the team drew heavily from Niagara Falls, Welland, St. Catherines, and even Hamilton. With a near total disappearence of televised games, the Leafs became much more easily associated with hockey simply due to exposure in that area. No TV outlet has taken them out of the public eye and easily has caused a portion of the precieved decline in attendance. Granted, the league experienced downturn in many markets due in large part to the poor on-ice product.

As it stands, yes I do believe that the team will continue to have support in the community. Better marketing coupled with a better product and stable ownership saw a healthy rebound in attendance just last season. Continued improvement in the standings and a renewed television presence in So. Ontario will drive further gate improvement and with that economic viability.

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03-02-2005, 06:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Chainshot
One thing that is often overlooked in regards to the marketing of the Sabres (and thus gate) is the near-total lack of exposure in So. Ontario since Team Rigas took over. At one point, the team drew heavily from Niagara Falls, Welland, St. Catherines, and even Hamilton. With a near total disappearence of televised games, the Leafs became much more easily associated with hockey simply due to exposure in that area. No TV outlet has taken them out of the public eye and easily has caused a portion of the precieved decline in attendance. Granted, the league experienced downturn in many markets due in large part to the poor on-ice product.

As it stands, yes I do believe that the team will continue to have support in the community. Better marketing coupled with a better product and stable ownership saw a healthy rebound in attendance just last season. Continued improvement in the standings and a renewed television presence in So. Ontario will drive further gate improvement and with that economic viability.
I agree. If you look at the population of Buffalo as a metropolitan area, they are the smallest metro area of any team in the NHL. That being said, I'm fairly certain that they don't include any of the population on the Canadien side of the border. The Sabres do need to market the team much better in S. Ontario. Getting on TV there will be a big plus. Last season, they were reaching out more to hockey fans on the Canadien side. If tehy continue to do this, they should be viable in the NHL.

On a side note for monkey_00, I saw on the business board that your looking at the possibility of Severstal (?sp) buying Stelco and possibly wanting to bring an NHL team into Hamilton. You were thinking that several teams may be fairly easily obtained if the lockout goes on to long. I just talked to a former Stelco employee that is still in contact with many of the higher ups there that says that the ownership will not sell to Severstal. He says that they are back to making profit and have or soon will be out of bankruptcy. How is this going to effect your thinking on how to get a team in Hamilton? I personally think it would be great to have a team in Hamilton. Think of the rivalry between Buffalo, Toronto and Hamilton that would develop...

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03-02-2005, 07:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chainshot
One thing that is often overlooked in regards to the marketing of the Sabres (and thus gate) is the near-total lack of exposure in So. Ontario since Team Rigas took over. At one point, the team drew heavily from Niagara Falls, Welland, St. Catherines, and even Hamilton. With a near total disappearence of televised games, the Leafs became much more easily associated with hockey simply due to exposure in that area. No TV outlet has taken them out of the public eye and easily has caused a portion of the precieved decline in attendance. Granted, the league experienced downturn in many markets due in large part to the poor on-ice product.

As it stands, yes I do believe that the team will continue to have support in the community. Better marketing coupled with a better product and stable ownership saw a healthy rebound in attendance just last season. Continued improvement in the standings and a renewed television presence in So. Ontario will drive further gate improvement and with that economic viability.
Chainshot................

You hit the nail on the head in regards to lack of exposure of the Sabres in Southern Ontario.........right now I am 36-years old but when I was younger I remember always watching the Sabres games on either NBC-Buffalo affiliation OR another from Buffalo; Channel 29.........the CRTC who controls what we watch up here on Canadian television decided to block out all Sabres games from being televised in the Hamilton Ontario and area market........I'm not too sure if this is also the case with other communities in Ontario like St.Catherines and Niagara Falls for example........I use to always like catching the Sabres games because they had exciting hockey clubs to watch especially during the gawd-awful Ballard years of the Toronto Maple Leafs.............I also believe that the timing of the CRTC blocking Sabres broadcasts into the Southern Ontario market coincided with the Buffalo Sabres (KNOX Family) blocking Hamilton's expansion bid back in 1990.........BUT as far as marketing goes I can only speak for what I see here in Hamilton and below are some of the things that the Buffalo Sabres have been doing to attract NHL hockey fans from our City to their games:

(1) Advertise heavily on downtown Hamilton billboards and bus shelters.

(2) Advertise some of the time on CH TV 11 during our 6:00 News telecasts; especially during sports coverage.

(3) Advertise in our local newspaper; Hamilton Spectator; full page ads talking about a "6-PACK" of games to go to of your choice in Buffalo if you cannot afford the season's tickets.

(4) Canadians interested in buying tickets for Sabres home games will be able to do so using Canadian dollars..........for example if a game ticket costs you $80.00 American it will cost us from Canada $80.00 Canadian....even though the U.S. dollar is worth alot more than the Canadian dollar.....they will honour our dollar equal to yours in the States for Sabres game tickets.

(5) The odd Tim Hortons outlet in Hamilton has Sabres posters advertising game ticket sales with a toll free number to call for interested parties.

............not too sure if they're getting a good return on their investments here in Hamilton with all their advertisements but I think the lack of television coverage of Sabres games has alot to do with the reduced numbers of Canadians crossing the border to watch Sabres home games.

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03-02-2005, 07:36 PM
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Originally Posted by djhn579
I agree. If you look at the population of Buffalo as a metropolitan area, they are the smallest metro area of any team in the NHL. That being said, I'm fairly certain that they don't include any of the population on the Canadien side of the border. The Sabres do need to market the team much better in S. Ontario. Getting on TV there will be a big plus. Last season, they were reaching out more to hockey fans on the Canadien side. If tehy continue to do this, they should be viable in the NHL.

On a side note for monkey_00, I saw on the business board that your looking at the possibility of Severstal (?sp) buying Stelco and possibly wanting to bring an NHL team into Hamilton. You were thinking that several teams may be fairly easily obtained if the lockout goes on to long. I just talked to a former Stelco employee that is still in contact with many of the higher ups there that says that the ownership will not sell to Severstal. He says that they are back to making profit and have or soon will be out of bankruptcy. How is this going to effect your thinking on how to get a team in Hamilton? I personally think it would be great to have a team in Hamilton. Think of the rivalry between Buffalo, Toronto and Hamilton that would develop...
djhn579.................

I"m not too sure what the latest figures are for Metro Buffalo population numbers but from what I checked last time it was at around 600,000 for the City of Buffalo but if you also include the surrounding area there in Western New York you are also adding another 600,000 bringing up the totals to 1.2-million.......then if you also include the population numbers of the communities in Souther Ontario stretching from Fort Erie to Burlington (Fort Erie, Niagara Falls, St. Caherines, Grimsby, Hamilton, Brantford,Burlington) that's about another 1.2-million people there so potentially the Sabres have a market place of around 2.4-million to draw from which is plenty I think to support NHL.........BUT I think there are a number of other variables in effect here like Buffalo's economy, the ever-increasing ticket prices (NHL is a gate-driven League), and the reduced numbers of fans from Canada crossing the border and reasons for that could be no more tv coverage of Sabres home games in southern ontario like there was in the past and longer waits at the border to cross over for Canadians since 9-11.............

Today STELCO STEEL turned down all offers from interested parties that were looking to takeover the Hamilton steel-giant......2 of the groups were especially noteworthy and they being SEVERSTAL STEEL of Russia who also own a hockey club in the Russian Super-League by the same name, they made it public that if they were able to takeover STELCO in Hamilton they would do everything in their power to help land an NHL franchise to our City......the other noteworthy group was the TEACHRS PENSION FUND combining forces with TD BANK...the interesting thing about that one is these two groups are also the current owners of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey club...........the thinking by most people in this market is the Maple Leafs would block any attempts of an NHL club moving into Hamilton because they (the Leafs) would want the Southern Ontario hockey market all to themselves...HOWEVER if Teacher's Pension Fund and TD Bank took over Stelco then maybe they would have allowed for a team to move into Hamilton as long as the City payed the Maple Leafs their territorial fee........from what I've been reading in the local papers lately the Steel workers at Stelco and the Union bosses were pulling for SEVERSTAL to takeover Stelco because they felt they had the workers best interestd at heart especially their pension plans...the other reason that the workers and Union were pulling for SEVERSTAL is because out of the 4 interested parties that were looking to takeover Stelco, Severstal was the only Steel company in the group.....if memory serves me correct the other 2 interested parties were European based Banks.........but today STELCO decided to go out alone and want to get themselves out of Bankruptcy protection but they would still have to fight for that decision in court and get the permission to do so.....many people in the know felt that STELCO was making too much money to be listed under Bankruptcy protection..........so nothing is conclusive at this point here.............SEVERSTAL STEEL will have something official to say in the next 24-hours...........

I always felt that having Toronto, Hamilton, Buffalo in the same division would be great Rivalry for all 3 hockey clubs........I think in order for Hamilton to land NHL a number of things would have to take place:

(1) Mega-bucks owner like SEVERSTAL STEEL with deep pockets would have to be in place.

(2) Maple Leafs and Sabres would have to allow for a team to move into Hamilton.....KNOX Family blocked Hamilton's entry back in 1990 when the League finally awarded new expansion teams to both Tampa Bay and Ottawa.........

(3) Hamilton team would have to have enough money to shell out for territorial fees to be paid to both Toronto and Buffalo.....back in 1990 we would have to pay $50-million each to both Sabres and Leafs......not too sure what that figure would be today in 2005.

(4) Hamilton would have to upgrade their 18,500-seat Copps Coliseum to NHL standads which includes the addition of some more luxury boxes.....we have some already but not nearly enough....Mayor of Hamilton has already stated that it would take 6-months tops for all the necessary renovations and upgrades.

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03-03-2005, 11:11 AM
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Just as an aside, I recall the Leafs having a major hand in nixing Steeltown's bid for an NHL franchise (the current Sen's franchise), more so than anything the Sabres did. The Leafs had more to do with protecting their hockey monopoly in the Golden Horseshoe than anything the Knoxes did.

As for advertising... it may take a while, but getting the team back on a broadcast outlet that has transmission (via oldschool broadcasting or cable) into S. Ont. is vital. Part of the CRTC's decision was also based on the Sabres being carried on a cable network---once they consolidated the affiliation from Ch. 29 or 49 over to Adelphia/Empire exclusively, there was no longer an outlet on that side of the border. There is an entire generation of 20-something hockey fans who never had any exposure to the Sabres during their formative hockey-watching years (10-14), when allegiences are typically made. They saw the Gilmour-era Leafs (good teams, fun to watch) and little else. Those fans are pretty much die-hard Leaf backers and their disposable income for entertainment spending is NOT going into Sabre games.

It took them almost 15 years to get to their current point, it will take a concerted effort for more than just a season or two (combined with not just hockey, but entertaining hockey) to win back fans.

As for your list, there are a few things that the Sabres do already -- like Sabre bucks (Canadian at par, spend the chits in the building on food or drink), Canadian at par nights, and doing 4 game discount packages for Canadian-based teams. One thing that was thrown around but I have yet to see any more on was the idea of a train from Hamilton to the Exchange St. station (two blocks from the HSBC arena) that featured additional customs people to clear everyone and make for a quicker trip into the US. People could take the train, booze it up early if they want (which if the typical Leaf fans coming down for games on tour buses is any indication, they would), then sober up on the train ride home. No worries about weather for driving, lessened concerns about the border crossing.... Granted, it flies in the face of draconian immigration and border patrol measures, but hey, it's an idea...

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03-03-2005, 04:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Chainshot
Just as an aside, I recall the Leafs having a major hand in nixing Steeltown's bid for an NHL franchise (the current Sen's franchise), more so than anything the Sabres did. The Leafs had more to do with protecting their hockey monopoly in the Golden Horseshoe than anything the Knoxes did.

As for advertising... it may take a while, but getting the team back on a broadcast outlet that has transmission (via oldschool broadcasting or cable) into S. Ont. is vital. Part of the CRTC's decision was also based on the Sabres being carried on a cable network---once they consolidated the affiliation from Ch. 29 or 49 over to Adelphia/Empire exclusively, there was no longer an outlet on that side of the border. There is an entire generation of 20-something hockey fans who never had any exposure to the Sabres during their formative hockey-watching years (10-14), when allegiences are typically made. They saw the Gilmour-era Leafs (good teams, fun to watch) and little else. Those fans are pretty much die-hard Leaf backers and their disposable income for entertainment spending is NOT going into Sabre games.

It took them almost 15 years to get to their current point, it will take a concerted effort for more than just a season or two (combined with not just hockey, but entertaining hockey) to win back fans.

As for your list, there are a few things that the Sabres do already -- like Sabre bucks (Canadian at par, spend the chits in the building on food or drink), Canadian at par nights, and doing 4 game discount packages for Canadian-based teams. One thing that was thrown around but I have yet to see any more on was the idea of a train from Hamilton to the Exchange St. station (two blocks from the HSBC arena) that featured additional customs people to clear everyone and make for a quicker trip into the US. People could take the train, booze it up early if they want (which if the typical Leaf fans coming down for games on tour buses is any indication, they would), then sober up on the train ride home. No worries about weather for driving, lessened concerns about the border crossing.... Granted, it flies in the face of draconian immigration and border patrol measures, but hey, it's an idea...
Chainshot.............

Sounds like a good idea..........I always take the train to Toronto whenever I can for Leafs game or the Blue Jays down to the SkyDome (which is now called the Rogers Center........

KNOX Family played a big part in blocking Hamilton's entry into the NHL.....I know this for a fact because I worked very closley with the group that was helping to bring the expansion team to Hamilton......I drew the jersey designs and logo for the new team Hamilton.......from what the group told me the KNOX Family made several phone calls to Hamilton 1-week prior to the official announcing of the 2-new expansion teams that were eventually awarded to both Tampa Bay and Ottawa telling the Hamilton group to "forget about NHL in Hamilton because it's not going to happen, the Sabres will not allow for it to happen".....this made the headlines in the local Newspaper (Hamilton Spectator) and a local magazine called "This month Hamilton".......I still of a copy of that article with me here on my desk.....the Hamilton group also told me that NHL was ready to award expansion team to Hamilton and Tampa Bay but Sabres 30-minutes before official awarding of the new clubs blocked it from ever happening so the NHL was forced to resort to a Plan B and award the 2nd team to Ottawa instead of Hamilton.........Ottawa at the time didn't even have an NHL-calibre Arena in place...the NHL allowed the Ottawa Senators to play their first couple of seasons out of smaller junior hockey rink the home of the OHL Ottawa 67s...I think their seating capacity was 9,000.

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