ARE PANTHERS PUTTING ON THE HEAT IN SEASON-TICKET BATTLE?
A comparison of the Heat and NHL Panthers in the Miami
market was featured in Sunday's MIAMI HERALD. The Panthers,
who won 35 games last season and were eliminated in the
first round of the playoffs, have sold 13,000 season tickets
for this season, while the Heat, coming off an appearance in
the Eastern Conference Finals, have sold "just under
10,000." But TV ratings are higher for the Heat, whose
telecasts on broadcast TV averaged a 5.3 last year, while
the Panthers averaged a 3.4. Heat President of Business
Operations Jay Cross, on the ticket disparity: "The answer
is primarily one of timing. (In 1996) they went to the
Stanley Cup, they didn't sell out every game. The year
after, they sold out because they were a hot commodity."
COMPARISONS: The average ticket price for the Panthers
is $38.02 -- $1.05 higher than the Heat's $36.97 average --
and the Panthers are "expecting a ticket-price increase"
when their new arena opens next season. While neither team
would disclose ad budgets, Cross confirmed the Heat's budget
has been increased, and they will "will advertise more this
season on TV, radio and bus stops." The Panthers say
they've increased their budget, "even though every game sold
out last year." Regarding giveaways, the Heat has scheduled
25 this year, the same as in '96-97, while the Panthers will
have 10, also the same as last season (MIAMI HERALD, 11/9).