More fans a priority next season
- More fans already a priority for 2002-03 USHL season
By RICK DEAN
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