Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Predators New Ticket Policy Rewards Local Fans

The Nashville Predators announced a new ticket policy that at first blush looks designed to keep the fans of some of their rivals, specifically the Chicago Blackhawks out of the Bridgestone Arena. And while that may be an effect of the new policy, it is not the primary goal.

According to Chris Parker, Executive Vice President and Chief Sales Officer of the Predators, the policy is designed to reflect a maturing Nashville market that is seeing more demand for tickets, especially for rivalry games, and to give Predator fans the first shot at buying individual game tickets for those games.

According to Parker, individual game tickets will for sale for the upcoming season beginning September 7th. However, those individual tickets will be available at the box office at Bridgestone Arena only. The idea is to give local fans the opportunity to purchase tickets before they are placed on-line and available to out of market fans.  Individual game tickets will be available on-line approximately one week later.

Now, Predator fans know that we have had a great rivalry with the Blackhawks. With the Hawks enjoying their Stanley Cup success, their fans have traveled in droves to other arenas to cheer on their team. Nashville is a sweet destination for those fans in the Windy City because of the ease of travel (Southwest has numerous flights between the two cities), the attraction of Nashville as a city, and especially the ability of Hawks fans to jump on-line and scarf up tickets at very reasonable prices.

It's obvious that the first part of the policy- tickets available at the local box office- is designed to give the purchase priority to local fans.  The second part of the new policy is designed to make it more expensive for the visiting Blackhawk fans to see a game in Nashville.

For out of market (read: Chicago) fans that want to buy a ticket to see the Hawks play in Nashville, they will be required to purchase a second, full price ticket to another Predators game (non-Chicago).

Will this keep Chicago fans from flocking to Nashville to see the Hawks? While it may stop a few of their fans, I suspect they will still travel here to see their team play.

And they will pay a higher price (the second full price game ticket) to do so.

Frankly, I am not surprised that the Predators have gone to an incremental pricing option for this game, and I would expect to perhaps see other rivalry games, say with Dallas, get incrementally priced in the future.

Most professional and college teams have gone to incremental pricing for rivalry games or games that are a popular draw, say when a notable team makes a rare appearance. As the hockey market in Nashville has matured and as rivalries have deepened, the Predators now find themselves in a position to begin this pricing model.

The two takeaways from this are: it creates a better pricing environment for local fans; and it makes the fans of a visiting big time rival pay more to see them in our place.

The ability of the local fans to purchase tickets before anyone else, especially to popular games like those with Chicago, is smart business. Having more of our fans in the barn in these rivalry games helps the team, but it also is a clear signal to the fans that the team acknowledges and appreciates their support by giving them the first opportunity to buy the best seats first at face value.

And frankly, visiting rivals need to contribute more financially than just the face value of their ticket. Oh, I know they pay sales taxes, hotel/motel taxes, and spend a lot of money in Nashville when they come to visit, but the Predators themselves need a direct payment from those fans, and the purchase of that second ticket does just that.

So Chicago fans, we still expect to see you here in Nashville.

Just open your wallet and spend a bit more money when you come.

Here are the important dates for Predator fans:

8/16          Tickets for pre-season games go on sale

8/26          Individual game tickets go on sale for season ticket holders

9/7            Individual game tickets available to the general public (box office only)

9/14          Individual game tickets available on-line

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