Wild Season-Ticket Base Remains Strong After Lockout; Teams Extend Olive Branch
Wild COO Matt Majka said that interest "appears on the rise and season-ticket holders have stayed faithful" despite the NHL lockout, according to Bruce Brothers of the ST. PAUL PIONEER-PRESS. But Majka is "taking a conservative approach." He said, "We've got work to do to earn fans' trust back, and to assume we're going to be back to sellouts, I just won't do that." Majka said that the Wild "sold about 4,000 new season tickets over the summer" after the free-agent signings of LW Zach Parise and D Ryan Suter. He said that another 100 season tickets "were purchased in the past week, after a tentative agreement to end the lockout was reached." Majka said, "We lost virtually nobody during the stoppage." He added that some fans "requested refunds for canceled games but most kept their money 'on account' and have credit for future tickets." Majka said that season-ticket holders can "expect various new benefits from the organization, but single-game tickets will not be discounted." The Wild will hold a "free full-game scrimmage" on Wednesday, which will be "televised by Fox Sports North." Tickets must be "acquired through wild.com and each fan will receive a $10 concession voucher, which cannot be used for alcoholic beverages" (ST. PAUL PIONEER-PRESS, 1/14). In Minneapolis, Michael Russo notes there was "so much demand Sunday" for the scrimmage that the team "actually had to suspend ticket distribution to ensure season-ticket holders can get tickets" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 1/14).
PLAYING NICE: The AP's Teresa Walker noted the Predators on Saturday "tried to start wooing fans" back with an hour-long practice. The team "sold hot dogs, popcorn and sodas for 50 cents apiece in what they billed a 'celebration.'" Predators D Shea Weber said, "Anything we can do to try and win them back, we're going to try and hopefully they'll stick with us and come with us the whole way" (AP, 1/12). In Boston, Mark Murphy reported the Bruins will distribute "free vouchers for concessions" during the team's five January home games. These will "enable fans to receive three free items from a set menu at Garden concession stands, not including alcoholic drinks" (BOSTONHERALD.com, 1/13). Also in Boston, Steve Conroy noted the Bruins "will also host a Black and Gold intrasquad scrimmage on Tuesday night." The scrimmage is "free to the public, but fans do need tickets to attend." Tickets will be "available to season ticket-holders and Premium Club clients before they are released to the public" (BOSTON HERALD, 1/13). In Raleigh, Chip Alexander noted the Hurricanes will "have revised mini-season ticket plans for the shortened season." Mini-season ticket plan-holders can "opt for an 18-game plan, or choose between three different 10-game plans" (NEWSOBSERVER.com, 1/12).
BREAKING EVEN: Lightning Owner Jeff Vinik said that the team will be "better off financially" because of the new CBA. Vinik "would not say if the new agreement makes the Lightning a break-even franchise or even a money-maker." But he said, "I think if we continue to do what we've done the last three years -- we've built a great organization on and off the ice -- we should be in good shape." One reason he cited is "expanded revenue sharing" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 1/13).