SBD/Issue 221/Franchises

Blue Jackets' First Playoff Run Helps Ticket, Sponsorship Sales

Blue Jackets Seeing Boost In Ticket, Sponsorship
Sales After First-Ever Playoff Appearance
The "buzz created by the Columbus Blue Jackets' first run into the playoffs and some twists on seating packages seem to be trumping the recession's effect on ticket and corporate sponsorship sales," according to Jeff Bell of BUSINESS FIRST OF COLUMBUS. Blue Jackets Senior VP/Business Operations Larry Hoepfner said that the team's season-ticket sales are running about 5% "ahead of the pace from a year ago," while the renewal rate for season tickets is nearly 87%, which is a 
"few percentage points above where it stood at this time a year ago." Bell notes the club this offseason "restructured some seating in the upper bowl at Nationwide Arena to make 1,400 more season tickets available at the two lowest prices." The Blue Jackets also "introduced several mini-season ticket plans and made the lowest-priced seats available in all six, 10- and 20-game ticket packages." Hoepfner said that sales of partial-season plans are "up more than 80[%] from a year earlier." Meanwhile, the team has "signed nearly a dozen corporate sponsors to renewals this summer, including six-figure deals with Verizon Wireless, American Electric Power Company Inc. and AAA Ohio." Hoepfner said that "more agreements are expected before the regular season begins in October." Bell notes the team has "lost a combined $80[M] over the past seven years," and Hoepfner said, "We still have work to do to get back to where we were" (BUSINESS FIRST OF COLUMBUS, 7/31 issue).

HOLDING STEADY: In Detroit, George Sipple reported the Red Wings "sent renewal brochures to season-ticket holders Monday, adding two new payment plans and keeping season-ticket prices the same." The team "increased the number of payment installments from four to six," and Red Wings Senior VP/Business Affairs Steve Violetta said that they will "become the first NHL team and third in pro sports to offer a layaway option for season-ticket holders." Season-ticket holders who choose the layaway option "will be charged a 1.9% flat transaction fee and zero interest." Sipple noted Red Wings officials knew they "had to make payment plans easier because of the economy." Violetta: "We know we're competing against bread and milk to a certain extent." Violetta added that individual ticket prices "will be determined and announced later," and confirmed that the team's $9 ticket "will return and will be offered again in two-month segments" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 8/4).

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