directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Bob Hunter gets it

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Bob Hunter gets it

Columbus Dispatch columnist Bob Hunter has an interesting read in his blog regarding the Columbus Blue Jackets preseason:

In watching the Blue Jackets play an exhibition game with the Chicago Blackhawks last night in a mostly empty arena, it struck me that there is a tremendous opportunity to create new hockey fans here for a team willing to give up some of that ticket money.

The official attendance last night was 10,877. The actual crowd was maybe 5,000. Rather than foist these tickets on season tickets holders who don't want them -- and sure don't want to pay those exorbitant prices for games that don't count -- why not turn these games in general admission affairs and charge, say, $10 for a lower bowl ticket and $5 for one in the upper bowl? Or how about $5 for all of them, first come, first serve.

Yeah, I know why. The team would lose money. But that might be more than offset than the number of fans these games create. A guy who was servicing my car yesterday told me he had never been to a Blue Jackets game. It's not that he isn't interested, but he figured that the tickets were too expensive. He had been to a Destroyers game, where the ticket prices are lower, and said he loved it.

Hunter is bang on here.

A buddy of mine and I were discussing this very same thing at the last couple of preseason games as well. Considering where the Jackets are in terms of the on-ice product and where they are at in the attendance department for these preseason games I really don't understand why they don't take the hit and fill this place with cheap tickets. Oh wait, I do understand as Bob does - they don't want to lose the money in the short term.

...and that's my problem with that strategy, selling seats cheap for a preseason game is a long term strategy that can't immediately be measured but if you create a few hundred new fans per game who come back during the regular season then aren't you coming out ahead in this deal? That's not even considering concession/parking/merchandising sales that are gained by having twice as many people in the building.

So I definitely agree with Hunter and think it would be in the Jackets best interests to re-evaluate their strategy of the preseason because I certainly feel there are a lot of missed opportunities here.

Now if the Jackets finally turn the corner and put a winning product on the ice and ticket sales are on the upswing well I can't blame them from a business side as we get into that whole supply/demand concept.

They should always remember though, a little good-will towards the fans, and certainly season ticket holders, has a longer lasting appeal than a short term money grab which is exactly what preseason currently is from a ticketing standpoint.


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