Re: Who Will Relocate First? Flames, Predators, or Oilers?
- I've been hearing the Predators are next in line. The local 1/2
partner is pulling out, season attendance continues to fall, and
advertising dollars are shrinking.
Nashville Predators Might Not Be the Ticket
As the Nashville Predators enter the thick of the season-ticket
selling season, they might do well to look North for inspiration.
That's because the Northern teams are clearly holding the upper hand
among the NHL's four newest franchises. That and this report from The
Tennessean's John Glennon
The Minnesota Wild recently capped season-ticket sales at 16,000 for
the coming year, while the Columbus Blue Jackets have seen their
season-ticket base surge from 12,000 to 14,000 after just one season.
Both teams are expecting to sell out all 41 of their respective home
The Predators and Atlanta Thrashers, meanwhile, are still seeking
that level of enthusiasm.
Though Predators officials remain adamant about not releasing a
season-ticket count, team president Jack Diller said the
organization's renewal rate has dropped slightly in each of the first
three offseasons from about 90% to the current rate of about 85%.
Nashville was required to have sold at least 12,000 season tickets
before its inaugural year.
In Atlanta, the Thrashers have seen their season-ticket base fall
from approximately 12,500 to around 8,500 in two years.
''This isn't a sprint ? it's a marathon,'' NHL spokesman Frank Brown
said. ''These clubs are here for the long haul, and they'll use every
outlet to maximize their growth. The numbers right now are just
points on a continuum.''
The NHL's return to Minnesota last season following a seven-year
absence was expected to be greeted with plenty of excitement, as the
state is arguably more passionate about hockey than any other in the
But even Wild officials were overwhelmed by last year's response, as
the 41 home sellout crowds included 26 ''overflow'' crowds of 18,600
or more. That and this report from The Tennessean's John Glennon
Minnesota chose to cut its season ticket sales off at 16,000 this
summer, just so the organization would have some game-night tickets
available. The Wild's season-ticket waiting list currently stands at
''The fans here were hungry for the NHL's return and they've shown it
in their support at the gate,'' said Bill Robertson, the Wild's vice
president of communications and broadcasting. ''I'd say there have
been a few factors. We've got local ownership, we had a brand new
arena and we'd spent the last three years ? before the first puck was
ever dropped ? rooting ourselves in the community.''
There was no guarantee Columbus was going to accept the Blue Jackets
in the same manner, since Ohio represented uncharted waters for the
NHL. In addition, prospective season ticket-holders were required to
pay for personal season licenses, essentially doubling the price of
But any doubts about fan interest were erased toward the end of
Columbus' initial season, as fans sold out the 18,136-seat Nationwide
Arena for the last 15 home games.
The club recorded a 99% renewal rate for season tickets this
offseason, and saw its season ticket base jump from 12,000 to 14,000.
That and this report from The Tennessean's John Glennon
Andy Silverman, the Blue Jackets' vice president of ticket sales,
said a new arena and a surprisingly competitive team that finished
over .500 at home were two big factors.
''It also helps that we don't really have competition like Nashville
does with the Titans there,'' Silverman said. ''We've got the [Ohio
State] Buckeyes, but that's really not the same.''
Diller, however, said he thinks the Predators should be more able to
compete with Columbus than Minnesota.
''Certainly a market of that size, which is the same or smaller than
Nashville, I'd like to see that same kind of thing going on here,''
he said. ''That's something to shoot for.''
Diller said the Predators' season ticket renewal rate of 85% is
slightly ahead of the league average, adding that the drop from last
season wasn't totally unexpected.
''It's a little surprising it wasn't greater, since it used to be
that you couldn't stop the stock market from going up, and now you
can't get it moving up,'' Diller said. ''In the past, those who
weren't renewing would talk about individual reasons ? like moving,
or divorce or something. This year, it's more about the economy.''
The Predators averaged 15,895 fans per game last year, good enough to
fill 93% of the Gaylord Entertainment Center's capacity, but also
representing a drop of about 700 fans per game from Year 2.
Nashville's southern counterpart, the Thrashers, have also found
themselves struggling to regain the ticket numbers of their opening
season. That and this report from The Tennessean's John Glennon
Atlanta's average attendance dropped by nearly 2,000 fans per game in
its second year, due in large part to a 1,500-drop in the season
''Between the fact we didn't have a playoff team and the weakened
economy, it was not really that unexpected,'' Thrashers President
Stan Kasten said. ''And we've got one of the smaller markets to have
four pro teams here.
''But because we did foresee a softer season-ticket market, we've
worked a lot on single-game tickets. The first month of this season,
we may have our highest attendance ever.''
What the Predators need for higher attendance is more support from
local businesses, according to Diller.
''Our individual market seems very strong,'' Diller said. ''All
along, we've said the business side has to be our focus. It shouldn't
be something that comes out of their fun budget, but out of their
marketing and advertising budget ? to get more out of their
Diller said the next few weeks are especially important for NHL
season ticket sales, since fans start to think more about hockey as
training camp gets underway in September.
The Predators have even hired half a dozen telemarketers for the
first time, in order to help make a bigger push.
''I'm not unhappy where we are right now,'' Diller said. ''But if
we're at this point after we go through the prime selling season [of
late August and September], then I would not be happy.''