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More fans a priority next season

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    More fans already a priority for 2002-03 USHL season By RICK DEAN The Capital-Journal It is a public cry for help to be sure, but ScareCrows coach Bliss
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 6, 2002
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      More fans already a priority for 2002-03 USHL season

      By RICK DEAN
      The Capital-Journal

      It is a public cry for help to be sure, but ScareCrows coach Bliss
      Littler continues to believe one thing separates Topeka from the top
      teams of the USHL.
      "The only thing that keeps us from being a premier program is another
      1,500 (spectators) a night," Littler said after his team's final game
      Wednesday. "That's the only thing Omaha, Lincoln and Sioux City can
      sell to a kid that we don't have here.

      "We need to add more energy to our building," Littler said. "Landon
      Arena used to be the place to be on a Saturday night in Topeka. The
      energy of the people in the building is what creates a mystique, and
      players feed off that when things aren't going their way."

      Things often didn't go the Crows way in their 25-30-6 season that
      included a home record of 17-4-3. In contrast, the four West Division
      teams ahead of them all won at least 20 home games, with Lincoln,
      Sioux City and Omaha all winning 27 or more.

      It will be Littler's job next year to field a team that will attract
      more fans. His sales and marketing people, meanwhile, also have ideas
      about helping that process.

      The elimination of the $3 nightly parking fee, reduced arena
      capacity, lower concession prices and more community outreach are
      changes the Crows staff are promoting in the early stages of the 2002-
      03 season-ticket drive.

      Beginning next season, ticket sales will be confined to the lower
      bowl and first five balcony rows at Landon Arena, reducing the
      seating capacity from around 7,700 to 5,100.

      "If the demand is there, we'll open up more rows in the balcony, but
      right now we need the atmosphere created by having people sitting
      closer together," said Greg Schuh, the Crows' director of business

      The top sections of the balcony will be curtained off to give the
      appearance of a smaller arena, Schuh said.

      The nightly parking fee charged by the Kansas Expocentre will be
      waived for all patrons. The Expo still will receive a parking
      concession, Schuh said, but the fee will be accounted for in the
      ticket pricing. Even then, only one level of seats will see a $1
      nightly price increase next season.

      The Expocentre concession operator, Heart of America Services, also
      is planning a reduction in prices, Schuh said. The hope is that a
      higher volume of sales will offset a decrease in prices.

      The Crows will make a special effort next year to regain some of the
      corporate support that slipped away when the team made the transition
      from minor-league professional hockey to junior-level status. A
      program offering free tickets to student achievers -- with discount
      tickets offered to their parents -- also will be implemented.

      The Crows also plan to take a more active role in their own
      scheduling, something they couldn't do as a first-year USHL team,
      Schuh said. The goal next year is to get more games with rival teams -
      - Lincoln, Omaha and Sioux Falls -- on weekends as opposed to
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