Senators reach out to fans
New initiatives bring huge benefits to season-ticket holders
|Senators president Cyril Leeder unveils a series of new initiatives designed to benefit the team's current and future season-ticket holders (Ottawa Senators Hockey Club).
It's the driving force behind a series of new fan initiatives unveiled today by the Ottawa Senators to help accelerate the rebuilding of their season-ticket base.
Significant price reductions, free parking and an unlimited ticket exchange program are among the incentives the team has put together to bring back former season-ticket holders and attract new ones, as well as rewarding the loyalty of the Sens' long-term patrons.
"We want to retain the existing season-seat holders that we have," Senators president Cyril Leeder said earlier today in announcing the new ticket initiatives. "We really wanted them to know that they’re important to us. Secondly, we want to bring back former season-seat holders and we want to attract new ones."
Through 19 home dates so far this season, the Senators are attracting an average of 17,781 fans through the turnstiles at Scotiabank Place. That's a 6.6 per cent decrease over the same period and ranks Ottawa in the middle of the National Hockey League (15th overall) in paid attendance and fifth among the six Canadian teams.
There have been three sellouts so far, with a season-ticket base of 10,000.
In 2007-08, in the wake of an appearance in the Stanley Cup final the season before, the Senators rated third in the NHL in attendance (19,821) behind only the Montreal Canadiens and Buffalo Sabres with a franchise-record 38 home sellouts. Season tickets sat at 13,000, also an all-time high.
"People have to recognize the importance of a building full of people screaming," Melnyk said during a Fan Forum conference call with Senators season-ticket holders. "We saw that during the playoffs. We’ve seen that whenever you have passionate fans screaming and yelling and (the arena) is full, the players do get pumped and it reflects directly (on performance).
"It’s a win-win situation when we get the building full and I think it will be reflected on the ice."
Ticket price reductions and playoff ticket incentives for season-seat holders will be implemented starting in 2010-11, along with free parking being offered for all full-season seat holders of more than five seasons and those who have held half-season ticket plans for at least 10 seasons.
The parking savings will affect 1,250 current season-ticket plans holders totalling about 3,000 to 4,000 seats, said Leeder.
"If you've been here more than five years, it's a loyalty factor," he said. "We're rewarding loyalty and providing a fairly significant benefit to attract new ticket-holders."
An unlimited ticket exchange program for season-seat holders – the Senators are calling it "No Ticket Left Behind" – will be implemented immediately. This allows fans to trade in tickets they don't plan to use for another game.
"At the end of the day, we hope we’ll have more people in the building and we’ll be playing to fuller houses," said Leeder. "We think it’s a win-win. The fans get a better price and we’ll end up with more people at the games."
Melnyk agreed it's vital to recognize the support of season-ticket holders.
"The perspective I have is that I can see through the eyes of a fan," he said. "I’ve been a season-ticket holder and what is important (about it) is that you want to feel special and that was the mandate I gave the executive team. I said look, these are the most important part of our loyal and passionate fan base and I want to make sure they’re first in everything.
With the new ticket initiatives, the Senators' intent is to regain their standing among the NHL's top 10 in terms of paid attendance.
"Where we should settle is in the 7-10 range," said Leeder. "That’s where we think we should be. That’s been the average over the last eight or 10 years. We want to get back up to certainly in the top 10 again. We’re pretty confident we’ll do that. It’s just going to take a bit of time."
Still, Leeder suggested there are many NHL teams that would gladly trade attendance figures with the Senators, even if the numbers are down in Ottawa.
"When you put it in the right context, the season-seat holder base is still fairly high for us," he said. "Over the last 10 years, (the current season) would be the fourth or fifth-best year for us in terms of season-seat base. We’re not overly concerned. We’re off 6.6 per cent but were still drawing almost 18,000 a game. That’s sold out in at lot of NHL buildings, so it’s not a concern from that perspective."
Check out all the details of the new ticket initiatives for season-seat holders at www.ottawasenators.com/fanforum.