The Phoenix Coyotes beat the St. Louis Blues in OT magic Thursday night 3-2 but unfortunately there were only about 4000-5000 of us who saw it live. Announced attendance was reported at 6800 fans but I was there and as much as I would like to get behind that number, I can’t.
Phoenix Coyotes attendance has plagued the team for quite some time and can definitely be listed as one of the reasons the team remains in bankruptcy with an uncertain future. In 2008 the team was second to last in attendance just ahead of the NY Islanders. In 2009 their ranking jumped up a slot perhaps due to the fact that the team started the year in playoff contention. Proving what everyone says, fans will come out for winners.
Fans did come out to the home opener against the Columbus Blue Jackets last Saturday night. Jobing.com arena hosted a 17,000+ sell out crowd. That number took a dramatic marketing plan of a White Out night, a throwback to the old Winnipeg Jets days and a serious ticket price decrease. $25 for lower level and $15 for upper level. Flash forward to Thursday night.. from 17,000+ to 6,800. Ugly.
Responding to the attendance crisis, once again made apparent by the dismal showing, the Phoenix Coyotes released yet another new marketing plan. Desperate to fill the seats, the ‘We Win, You Win” ticket promotion was announced today. Simply put, if the Coyotes win each fan receives a ticket to another game. The plan invites fans to “Join the Pack” and is for select games over the next few months.
While I do applaud the organization for trying to get creative and recognizing the challenge before them, I have to question whether this new promotion will achieve the desired results. The fans who “win” essentially are the ones who are already coming out to the games. These people, like myself, are going to bet there anyway. We are ALREADY fans. What about the casual game goer? Or one that has never attended a game?
The beauty of the White Out was the attractive ticket price making it an affordable night out for the fan-on-the-fence. One game though does not a loyal fan make and the club needs to keep plugging away at capturing the newbies. And when I say “club” I am referring to the players too. Like I said earlier, fans will come out to see winners. Combine lowered ticket prices with some wins and then you might start to see some loyalty. Sad? Yes. But true.
Some other ideas to consider? Promotions for the East Valley residents. All off season long I’ve heard nothing but complaints regarding the West side location of the arena. And although I know of some fans who make the trip, a lot of people use that excuse as a reason not to support the Coyotes. Perhaps a lowered ticket price for residents within a certain zip code? Free gas card to residents of those areas? These are some of the ideas I and other supporters of the Coyotes have thrown around.
Of course, the Coyotes, with all their financial trouble cannot be just giving things away. Which explains the decrease in promotional giveaways over the course of this season. On the flip side, if the seats don’t get filled there won’t be any money coming in anyway. Talk about your Catch 22!
There is no easy answer and no quick fix on this. Fans can do their part by stepping up, attending the games and converting as many non-believers as possible. The guys can do theirs by winning some more games like we know they can. 4 and 2 is not a bad way to start.