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Volume 24 No. 199
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Execs Say Season-Ticket Sales Still Important To Teams' Revenue Base Despite Questions

There are plenty of questions about the future of season tickets, but they are still a “really important part of our revenue base -- the most important part,” said MSG Exec VP/Ticketing, Suites & Corporate Hospitality John Abbamondi during a panel discussion at the ’17 AXS Ticketing Symposium. “I don’t think season tickets are going away anytime soon,” he said, “particularly for us in our market with a big corporate base. Forty-four games may be a lot for an individual, but not a company. What we’re trying to do is be more responsive to the idea that there are customers out there who want to pay top dollar to have the right experience -- the right number of times. So we’re creating more and more products for them.” 49ers VP/Sales & Service Jamie Brandt said of season-ticket sales, “In the NFL, they’re certainly not dead. It’s pretty important for us to fill our building with season tickets. Most of us do that. With a few exceptions, it’s 80-85% of capacity for season tickets. By no means are season tickets dead in the NFL. In fact, it’s the lifeblood for most teams.”

OPEN SESAME: Blues Group VP/Ticketing & Guest Experience Josh Bender said of the blurring between the primary and secondary ticketing markets, “That’s what keeps me up at night -- figuring out how to work with those markets together. We have one of the largest buildings in the NHL, so we have a lot of tickets to sell. Many fans go right to the secondary market now, and don’t even look at the primary. ... So you look at all the distribution channels you can.” Abbamondi said there is “no question the industry is moving toward an open distribution model.” Brandt said “utopia” is when his team has “decision-making over who, what, where, when” with regard to their tickets, and that he is “intrigued by Amazon as a distribution platform.” Brandt: “Their customer base is so large because their analytical capability as to who may be interested in our events is so compelling.”

WHEN THINGS ARE GOING WELL: Abbamondi noted MSG Owner James Dolan has an “internal policy that we don’t raise prices if we don’t make the playoffs.” Abbamondi: “Unfortunately for the Knicks, that means we haven’t raised prices in a while. Obviously that’s a very fan friendly move, but in some ways, it’s helped us not get too far in front of ourselves.” Brandt added, “It’s really hard to fill a building when the team’s not doing well. ... Santa Clara doesn’t scream ‘destination.’”