Monday, October 16, 2006

Getting Some DC Butts In The Seats

I guess things are on shakier ground than I thought. Ted Leonsis is actually asking for help on getting more DC-ites into the Phone Booth. It’s a brave post for the Capitals Owner that is trying to solve the problem of getting the ticket revenue up for the city of DC.

Part of the problem is the Caps don’t draw important people to a game. When was the last time anyone saw Anthony Williams at a game in a Caps sweater? I mean, why should he? There are no DC-ites going to games. You don’t see Paris Hilton there either? That one puzzles me to no end.

Winning cures all ills. The Caps may have only survived first and second rounds of the playoffs, but at least they were there. That streak created a strong fan base. If they knew the team was in the post season, the stadium filled.

Another problem is huge gaps in seating at the stadium. I talked to some Caps fans during the Atlanta game about what they thought of the practically empty building. “It’s disheartening, we almost would feel better staying home and watching it on TV. At least the food is cheaper.”

I think the Caps need to rethink their regular season ticket layout strategy. Why not empty the upper levels and pour those people closer to the ice. If you are averaging 12,000 people a game, then cram them in smaller sections closer to the game. Otherwise the seats go to waste and the building looks empty.

But that might be too much for a major market hockey team to do. The only other way to get butts in the door from DC is hope to god there is a somewhat good African-American hockey talent that is making their way through youth hockey right now that may make the NHL. I am asking a bit much since hockey is not the sport of choice mostly because of the expensive cost of it. Most inner city kids can get a pick up basket-ball game going, a little harder to get them in skates and a stick and break out playing on the tennis courts.

Mostly the reason the Caps draw from the suburbs is simply because they can afford the experience. Their kids play at Mt. Vernon, and Piney Orchard. There is no real inner-city hockey initiative mostly because there is just no interest. Caps can do the boring thing and invite school kids to a game free of charge. That may create more of a base, and get kids interested in the game. But just don’t let them watch, get them down on the ice, meet some of the team and let them experience.

I don’t have the answer that is for sure. But I do want hockey to succeed because it’s a sport I love. I love playing it, I love teaching it and I love to be a fan of it. Maybe it just needs more people like us, who can create a spark for someone who isn’t a fan.


Gary said...

The problem with your "pour them closer to the ice" idea is that it could very well lead to lower ticket revenue. E.g., to get some people out of the 400-level seats and down into 100, the Caps would have to reduce the cost of those 100-level seats. As a 100-level season ticket holder, you're damn right I'm not going to pay full price for the same-quality seats where someone else got a deal. Multiply that sentiment by every lower-bowl STH, and the Caps are out some serious cash... although I wouldn't be surprised if they make the majority of net profit "ticket sales" on the corporate suites and boxes--like airlines and first class passengers.

Anonymous said...

What about offering partial season ticket plans for the lower bowl? I want to pay more to sit down there, I choose to do that, but I can't commit to being a full season attendee because of other time and financial commitments. But offer me a 20 game package or a 10 game package to sit in the 100 level, at 100 level prices, and I'm there.

Garrett said...

If you did offer partial plans for the lower bowl it would give you more Caps fans down lower in bigger games than let's say Detriot fans who buy the week before or off-the-street buyers. That makes sense to me.

Gary said...

I'm a big fan of the partial-season ticket plan for the lower bowl. That's what got me in 104 that first season.

I agree that'd definitely increase revenue to a certain extent (people like anon will trade up for it), but those seats automatically become unavailable for full-season ticket holders.

I don't see that happening, though. How many people walk in off the street to buy lower-bowl tickets? That's the only way the Caps would be able to put people in the seats that remain open "off-plan".