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Paul Nicholson
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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Bad news for the Predators' future

Unfortunately, things aren't looking great for the Preds attendance numbers.

I can honestly say i'm surprised at the turnout. I know the economy has been on a bit of a slow-down, but i really thought that we would average better attendance, especially after the rally this summer.

Through 28 games, the Preds have averaged 12,756 in paid attendance. The Detroit game last Tues isn't included in that, and it was close to a sell-out, but didn't quite hit from what i heard. The last sell-out we did have, was in fact the Phoenix game which had 15,160 in paid attendance (meaning 1,953 tickets were comped).

If my numbers are right (and this is something better suited to Forechecker), the Preds need to average 13,830 for the remaining games in order to hit the league minimum 13,125 needed to receive the desperately needed revenue sharing. That is slightly more than what we've averaged over the four games between Jan 31st-Feb 7th (13,467) that included the Phoenix sell-out, but it is possible.

In order to reach the 14,000 required to keep the force the Predators to stay in town under the current (old) lease with the city, the team would have to average 16,820 in paid attendance, which let's face it, at this point is not going to happen.

Maybe my math is wrong.
Maybe some miracle will happen.

This is particularly disappointing for me because the new ownership is really doing a great job starting to do the things that i think it will take to get the public really interested in games again. They are getting celebrities to the games and showing them on the megatron (including Jeff Fisher - the first time i have ever seen a Titans player or coach at a Preds game in years).

Earlier this year, the previous owner i keep hearing so much love for (Leipold) stripped the team of salary, but also completely cut all marketing and advertising budget. The team also lost all sponsorships with the Johnson family products (Fantastik, Scrubbing Bubbles, Windex, etc) that were mainstays in the arena, as well as the Taco Bell and several other headline sponsors. It has taken months for the new ownership to turn that around, finally getting Taco Bell back in the fold, and bringing on a number of other major sponsors for in-arena spots. All of that makes the team more profitable, which of course is needed for long-term stability.

So where does this leave us...

Early this year, i was hating on the new lease deal with the city. I suspected that it was a sneaky way for the new owners to make a good show, then move the team out after just 5 years. I was convinced that the old deal, which would keep the team here for 15 years if attendance numbers were hit was the better offer. I was convinced that the attendance numbers would be hit this year. I hate to say it looks like i was wrong. The attendance numbers haven't been there, for whatever reason. I just hope that i was also wrong about the new owners intentions. I hope that they really do want to make things work here, not just let the team gracefully fade, then move them. Because in about 2-3 months, it looks like they will be able move the team if they want to.

Of course, one thing could save all of this... a long playoff run with sold-out games. :-)
Go Preds!

8 comments:

Rob Robinson said...

Which lease will be in effect at season's end is the big question to me.

Following (and despite) the rally, I think we all underestimated the huge blow to community morale that last May and June were. I don't think we've really begun to recover from that until recently as the new ownership group has begun working to repair the damage.

PhragMunkee said...

I think it's a trend that we start getting bigger and more sellout crowds towards the end of the season. It all starts right after football season is over. We also have 5 more Wings games to go (granted, not all locally). But if we can beat 'em like we did the other night (4-2!!!), I think we'll be in good shape. The Tennessean is putting out a little bit more positive articles than they used to. That definitely couldn't hurt. Up until about last month, it was all doom and gloom and made me hate myself for loving the Preds so much (not really, but it was getting bitter). I think we'll be able to make the revenue-sharing goal, but not sure about the lease-keeping goal. :-(

I'd do more if I could, but living in Chattanooga keeps me tied to weekend games only. We do have flex pack tickets for every Saturday game this season and the final home game on a Tuesday!

Paul Nicholson said...

That's awesome Phragmunkee!

jc said...

first let me say, I love hockey. I dislike the preds (thats common knowledge if you know me) but love hockey enough that I have a partial season tixs pack.

With that being said, I have to say I am not impressed with the new ownership, at all. I have seen hardly any marketing for the team. I still dont see anything on TV for them, and I listen to the radio to and from work, dont recall hearing anything about the team. I also dont think they will hit the attendence mark they need, either of them. The support for this team by the city and people that live in it, is disapointing at best. That is my honest opinion.

Its really tough for me, I love hockey. I have the NHL Center Ice pack at home and watch at least 1 game EVERY night. Lately I can not get excited to go to my Preds games, the way they do the game (announcing, music, hype up music & vids) is poor. And the fans, dont get me started on the fans. I thought the other night the guy behind me was going to yell "I'd give my left 2 lug nuts to see sumpin like dat". The lack of game knowledge and misunderstanding of the rules of the game by "most" fans gets a bit too much.

sigh I love hockey, but not the Preds, so torn.

Jeff Pope said...

i don't know the solution, but i know what i can do personally. invite people...get friends into it...talk about games and how much fun they REALLY are live...etc... and hope management does its thing too like you've mentioned Paul. I think more will be revealed on the new ownership front, especially as we head down the stretch.

but...if they leave they leave. i would hate it, but i probably would find something else and move on.

with that said...it pains me to read someone's close-minded, jugemental, and hockey-holier-than-thou comments on the state of nashville hockey and its fans. so what if some guy is at his 1st or 2nd game. he paid for his ticket and for that he gets to sit next to me. that is what this is all about...increasing attendence, increase excitement, and increase interest and the knowledge and "etiquette" thing will come.

I would much rather have the new guy sitting next to me spilling his beer and screaming for the Preds, or even the opposing team for that matter, than some hockey snob there for "the experience", because he LOVES hockey. some people are just meant to watch from home and don't get the live thing, i guess. or maybe some people have just gotten to use too CENTER ICE and "enjoying" a "hockey expert" sharing with them thru a box, than a real person to their left or right.

*burp*,*fart* i love hockey, i love the preds, but wish some people would not take themselves and hockey so seriously.

Paul Nicholson said...

I would much rather have the new guy sitting next to me spilling his beer and screaming for the Preds, or even the opposing team for that matter, than some hockey snob there for "the experience"

I'd just rather have someone sitting next to me enjoying the hockey game, rather than an empty seat.

I'm with you though Jeff. I'll admit that a lot of Nashville has a lot to learn about hockey. I can bet that a lot of people watching LA Galaxy games now that Becks is out there don't know much about soccer, but that's ok.

The Preds were here for 6 years before i "discovered" them and got into hockey.

Not to mention, some people just don't bother to learn as much 'cause they just aren't that into it. They just want an excuse to yell, drink a beer, and hang with friends. That's why it's entertainment.

I appreciate people who take hockey very seriously. I do myself much of the time. But i can also have respect for those with a more casual interest.

I like hockey enough to want to share it. I don't want to keep it some exclusive club that is only played in places where the temp stays below freezing long enough to form a rink.

Anonymous said...

jc, it helps to actually go INSIDE the arena to enjoy the games. The TV's out in the consession areas don't have much excitment (you can't even hear them).

I have to admit that there are days that I am tired and wish the game was away (I get up at 3:45am). BUT, every time I get to the game and the new jumbo screens start pumping video (not commercials of course) of highlights, I get pumped up and have a blast. The Preds even have their own song for them "I like it I love it" (even a remake from the ORIGINAL artist) after each goal. Last year during the other recent massacre (7 - 2 against Buffalo) I sat in a section that was about 70%Buffalo fans. It really sucked for the spanking and fans around me until I overheard a fan sitting next to me say something. He was complimenting Nashville fans on their creativity for their chants and the experiences for the games here. It really made me appreciate what we have here in GNashville.

As for getting fans to the games; the biggest reason I hear people say they would like to go to a game, but don't come to the games because they don't understand it. Pretty lame excuse. If someone takes the time to learn the basics of a game/sport and still doesn't care for it I can accept that. But to not like a game for the lack of understanding it is plain stupid.

PhragMunkee said...

The Preds got me into hockey and I love it enough to watch anything from the amateur leagues playing at the Sportsplex to any team in the NHL. I've been to a couple other NHL games outside the Preds just because I needed to get a hockey fix when I was out of town. I even went and cheered for the Caps in their piss-poor 2006 season. Sitting alone, in a strange arena, cheering for the losing team, wearing the only hockey jersey I owned--a Preds jersey. There were some guys sitting behind me yelling something like "C'mon Ovechkin, why can't you play more like Kariya!" Every hockey market, however, is going to have its fair share of fans you will not like (granted, I liked them all in DC). It's a game and not meant to be taken that seriously (unless you're getting paid big bucks to take it seriously). It's for entertainment purposes only. If you don't like it, you don't have to go.

As for bringing friends to the game, I invite people every time we go. Sometimes people can make it, other times they can't. But most of them don't understand hockey except to cheer when the puck goes in the right net. They come for the energy and excitement and atmosphere. I have never felt so much energy in the atmosphere at any other sporting event than in the GEC/Sommet Center. I love the sport, I love the Preds, I love the energy. That's what keeps me coming back!

As for the lug-nuts guy, instead of sneering at him, rub the back of your neck to make it a little red and kick back and enjoy with him. One of the things I love about Preds fans is that you can turn around and talk to anyone in the arena. 90% of the time, after just a few minutes, you'll be talking like you've known each other for years! Even if the redneck behind you isn't educated in hockey, talk and befriend him and teach him hockey!