Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Ticket Sales Aren't Everything Now...

It’s been a couple of days since I posted. It’s nice to take a break every now and then though. It also gives me time to sit back and clear my mind about issues going on in the NHL. One that has really stuck with my however is attendance. At the beginning of February, the NHL Spin Cycle sent out yet another brow raising article touting a January monthly record for attendance. Strangely enough, this followed a weekend of hard line questions from reporters asking Gary B about attendance issues. Not strangely enough, he sidestepped those questions and maintained that the league’s attendance figures were healthy.

That certainly does bring me to questions… which is more important… ticket sales or actual attendance (who is IN seats)? I know what Gary B would say. But when I was reading a Ross Bernstein interview today, I couldn’t help but think just how much money the NHL is losing because fans aren’t showing up to games. And while NHL touts close to full capacity levels, they most certainly must mean ticket sales. Any one sporting a 10/10 vision would be hard pressed to agree that the average NHL arena is close to full capacity when it comes to fans in seats.

And how about that quote from one of my favorite authors:

“I think almost 70% of revenue from hockey comes from the fans,” Bernstein said. “It comes from tickets and beer and parking and jerseys. So, you have to take care of the fans that come. It's not like football where can you don't have to worry about the 75,000 fans in the stadium as long as you satisfy the 20 million watching at home. There aren't 20 million watching at home in hockey, that's just the nature of the beast. Particularly and especially in places like Carolina and Phoenix . So you have to make it a sellable product.”

So while ticket sales are indeed just that, the NHL is losing out on the things that actual, rear end in seat, attendance brings… parking money, concession (food, regular drink, alcohol) sales, and souvenier sales. When you take that into consideration with this abismal t.v. contract, the league has to be in trouble. Why else do you think articles are coming out about touting a new Commissioner… one that has marketing expertise?

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