SBD/Issue 46/Franchises

Nets, Devils Experiment With Sales Strategies In Crowded Market

Devils Have Marketed Themselves
As New Jersey's Team

Teams "across the country are grappling with how to sell tickets in a difficult economy and increasingly crowded market," and the nine pro teams in the N.Y. area "face a unique challenge," according to Sophia Hollander of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. In addition to "playing in one of the country's most competitive markets," nearly every team in the N.Y. area "has -- or will have -- a new stadium by 2012, putting increased pressure on ticket revenues." Of all the area teams, the Nets and Devils "have perhaps the trickiest task of all," as they "each vie for fans against higher-profile teams in their leagues that play in Manhattan." As a result, the Nets and Devils "have become incubators of innovation, willing to experiment with new strategies to see what sticks." The Nets and Devils, who are sharing Prudential Center this season, "have shared some approaches, while sharply diverging on others." The two teams "each offer fans a chance to offer direct input in a more formalized way than focus groups." The Nets created a Fan Advisory Board that fans must apply to join, and there they can "offer opinions about everything from the look of the tickets to the food at the arena." The Devils initiated this summer's Jersey Tour "to do the same thing -- and will be continuing the series this fall." But their "starkest difference relates to their home state," as the Devils "have embraced New Jersey, while the Nets are increasingly shifting their focus to a future in Brooklyn." The Nets "may be pitching wealthy potential suite-holders from Manhattan in Manhattan, but the marketing pitch is all Brooklyn."

JERSEY'S TEAM: The Devils "have taken the opposite approach," as this month the team "unveiled a specialty license plate" proclaiming themselves "Jersey's team." Devils Owner Jeff Vanderbeek: "I think that New Jersey has a lot to offer and needs to be very proud of that fact, and the New Jersey Devils are one of those things." The Devils have "one of the more sophisticated ticket outreach strategies in professional sports, engineered by long-time GOP strategist Mike DuHaime." After "studying people who had bought Devils tickets over the past 10 years," DuHaime and his team "created 11 profiles of typical team fans, ranging from 'active families' to 'upper income dads' to young professionals still living at home." About 10,000 names "were contacted to attend" the team's Jersey Tour meetings, and a spokesperson said that "despite the occasional response from an outraged Rangers fan, the events sold out within the hour" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/15).

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