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1.21.2009

Attendance "debate"

I see that we are having quite the "debate" over how full the new arena has been in the first 6 games down in Kent.

A few points...

First off... I too wish the building would be more full. We all wish that every game would be a sell out and that the building would be stuffed to the rafters with people and excitement. So to some extent I share the "disappointment" that people are having about the crowds not being as large as they might have expected. At the same time, I haven't really noticed it being much of a problem. 3000 at the Sho looks and sounds a lot better than 3000 at the Key no matter how you slice and dice it.

With respect to advertisements. Newspapers are a dying brand of media... take a quick glance at the Seattle PI going out of business and the numerous struggling newspapers in the country right now. Why would the Tbirds advertise in the Seattle Times when they are treated as sub-citizens to High School Sports and the media is dying. Radio... I don't even listen to local radio unless I'm listening to 104.9 when the game is on. I've been told that the Tbirds actually do have some radio ads out there... has anybody ever heard one?? Radio ads are also expensive and if they aren't really getting heard a lot they aren't really working. Billboards... are people actually going to come to a hockey game seeing a billboard in Kent? I would also assume they are expensive and the benefit might not be worth the cost.

So I ask... where exactly should the Tbirds be advertising that would actually generate larger ticket sales that is also worth the money it would take to do it?

Also... let's get a little historical perspective. Let's take a look at our friendly neighbors to the North and how they fared in their first 6 games at the Everett Events Center back in their first season of 2003-04.

A quick spreadsheet yields this...

Seattle averaged 4094 people in 6 dates with 3 games on the Fri-Sat split and 3 either midweek or Sunday. Everett averaged 4490 people in 6 dates with 3 on Fri-Sat split and 3 that were mid-week. Everett averaged about 400 fans per game more than Seattle has but that is largely helped by their opening night at 8250 with the ShoWare being only 6125. In non-opening night games they are nearly identical at 3688 and 3738 a different of roughly 50 people.

Let's look at capacity also... Seattle is at 66.84% while Everett was at 54.42%... considering that the EEC, now Comcast Arena, is over 2000 seats bigger... we can effectively call this a draw.

In addition... Everett opened against Prince George and Seattle opened with Everett. If the Tbirds open against Prince George the building is still full and if they play Everett on Sunday they probably draw 5000 instead of 3265 against Kamloops and that pulls them effectively even.

Looking at the whole picture... it's actually quite amazing how close the two teams started out in their first 6 games at their new arena. This is also assuming of course that the attendance numbers the two teams report are actually "accurate".

I know someone out there will argue that Everett was an expansion team and Seattle wasn't... but for the purpose of selling tickets, Seattle is essentially an expansion team in a new region so I

Bottom line....

Be patient people... I'm sure the front office is doing their best, the season ticket holder count has nearly (or has) doubled in the past year with the new arena, momentum is building.... but it's going to take some time for people to get hooked on hockey and purchase more than a couple of tickets for a Saturday night game against Everett. It is going to take some time for people to go out and buy season tickets, etc. and really boost the attendance. Give it some time... If you want to help boost attendance here is the link to group sales http://www.seattlethunderbirds.com/tickets/group/ go organize a group of your hockey friends or co-workers and bring them to the game and get them interested in supporting a local team.

Last but not least.... if you're waiting for coverage to come from one of the papers or the radio stations, etc. you might be waiting a long time. Tell people to read all about the team at http://www.thunderbirdshockey.blogspot.com/ and if you think I'm joking, I'm not... You want coverage of the team? Your probably going to get it here first and you're probably going to get the most coverage right here and hopefully going forward I can continue to do a better and more comprehensive job covering the team.

26 comments :

Anonymous said...

I think you might be looking a little too deep into this issue. This is what a struggling economy does and when the T-birds also charge 6-10 dollars more a ticket than any other WHL team. It becomes a lot harder to afford. I don't expect an attendence spike until next season. Not sure if the T-birds do this but it seems like the focus is all about Kent. When they should be reaching out to Renton, Auburn, Burien, Federal Way, and Puyallup areas as well, lot of people live in those cities, even pick up some of the old Tacoma Rockets fan base. Either way money is tight, and people will come, just not when they are worried about putting food on the table.

Anonymous said...

tyler let me preface what i am about to say by starting with this; i absolutely love your work. i very much appreciate your time and effort. i read daily and contribute (comment) occasionally. you are an asset to the team and community. thank you for all you do and keep up the great work.

you and i are on different sides of the fence on this attendance debate. i was one of those (and posted as such) who thought the SHO would "sell itself" for the remainder of the season. obviously that has not been the case. as i type this (2 hours before face off) there are over 3,000 tickets left for the kamloops game tonight. this game has some (if only minor) playoff implications. so it appears that the team is looking at another low 3,000 turnout. that is so very poor. i truly do feel sorry for the team and management.

i don't think the comparison (to everett and the attendance) is fair in a couple of aspects. they were an expansion team. basically dressing other teams "cast-offs" (no disrespect meant to any of the players involved). the city had no history or ties with hockey in anyway shape or form. also, they did not have two first round draft choices to come out and support. along with many other talented players the t-birds dress night in and night out. there can be no comparison on the talent level (inho). everett was a group of over achievers who came together and played quite well. kudos to them for that. this years bird team should draw in this rink and shown no indication of doing so at this point.

another factor is you can't compare the area each team has to draw from. seattle has a huge advantage in the population in a 20-25 miles circumference from the rink. i have come down to the SHO for 3 games from mukilteo for gawd sakes, and will be at portland game on saturday. as one goes greater distances from the rink(s) the numbers just pile over to seattle's side. there is no way that a major junior hockey team with seatlle on the front of the sweater should be averaging less than 4,000 in a brand new facility.

i want this team to succeed in the worst way. everyone involved in the on and off ice product deserves it. but they are off to a very inuaspicious start attendance wise. they could not be better (hardly) record/point wise. from the win/loss stand point the lack of attendance is very scary. i have always been a believer of win and thy will come. that has not been the case yet. but we both know that will change, the question is when?

thank you again, for all of your tremendous work and keep it up please.

Thunnex said...

I have no problem whatsoever with that opinion... and like I said... I want it to happen very badly as well..

I'm just saying... I think you can make a strong case that they are similar situations and I would be patient and say that in a few years we might have what we are looking for.

What would you suggest they do differently?

Anonymous said...

i am kind of at a loss to answer " what would you suggest they do differently"? i am so hopeful that this new rink is the answer. i think it will be, it is just that i am perplexed with regards to the attendance (or lack thereof) in the first soon to be 7 games.

Anonymous said...

Tyler I also appreciate all your hard work on this blog. It makes interesting reading for all of us local hockey fans.

The fan #'s issue.... I've been to two of the games in the new arena and am very happy for the players to finally have a place to play in that suits their league and provides them with a little atmosphere to help them.

I'm a south ender who waited until they moved to see any games this year. I have ran into a few friends who are new to the Thunderbirds fan base just because they are in Kent. That said..... I have a family of four and at $22 a ticket can't bring the family to more than a couple games a year. the $16 tickets are too few to come by to sit four together most weekend games. Where is the family plan? some kind of gimmick? a little originality? a ticket with a free hot dog? Tie a meal with a local pub or something? show some kind of good will to the local community your trying to court.

The lack of marketing is unbelievable! How about a two for one in the Kent Reporter? All they've done is rush into a new arena with no plan other than to RAISE TICKET PRICES! and bleed the already loyals of more of their hard earned $.

This organization needs a complete overhaul from front office to coaching. The idea of raising prices mid season in an entirely new market in a blue collar town is beyond rediculous and takes away from the good job they did putting this deal together in the first place.

Anonymous said...

I am a Kent resident and new T-birds fan and have been to a couple games at the Sho and think it's a great product. However, the ticket prices are too high in this economy for a family and you would think they would offer some 2 for 1 deals on the weekday games to at least get some new fans interested. Less than 2,500 at a game for a new arena is embarassing.

Kodi said...

I was talking to a friend today and he brought up something that I didn't even think of. Why on earth isn't their a reader board out front letting people know when the next game is.

I mean a new building went up and it looks nice and shiny but what is going on there when (not everyone are web surfers even though people who aren't I would consider mental lol).

I will say that I do understand the economic downturn and though I don't have to worry about bringing multiple people to a game I can easily see why this is a huge problem.

(btw Tyler I think you are doing a great job as always)

4thebirds said...

If the Birds had waiting until ALL things were finished we wouldn't have been in our new building this season. As you can tell from game to game there are improvements each and every game. All the little details are being added. My understanding is the reader board out front is in the hands of the city council waiting for a decision on what type to go with. That will be the biggest draw, just letting people know when there is a game. This is a work in progress, you can't compare it to Everett since they had time on their side to get all their ducks in order before the drop of the puck. Seattle had a season already under way with a deadline they didn't even know until a few weeks before. They had to move into a new arena while still trying to be operational. So cut them some slack. Just because things haven't happened as quickly as some might think, it doesn't mean they don't have plans under way.

Anonymous said...

There are some major differences that I think you are missing. I am an ex-T-Birds season ticket holder who has become an Everett season ticket holder. There are many reasons why I did that. The first is that Everett acknowledges their fans, especially their season ticket holders. Not once was I acknowledged as a season ticket holder in Seattle.... they even took away the season ticket holder gifts. Another reason is that Everett puts a good product on the ice year after year. You can't really say the same for the T-Birds. A third reason is ticket prices. I can get two season tickets for the price of one if I stayed in the seats I had in Seattle. That says a lot. Seattle has priced themselves out of the market and a time like this, that is a huge mistake. I never see Seattle advertise. Everett on the other... I recently saw a commerical for them while watching MTV. I hate to say this, but Seattle is horribly managed. I have even heard that out of past players that played for more than just Seattle.

4thebirds said...

Clearly we go to hockey for different reasons. I go to watch the game and see the boys continue to improve year after year. Some of them to the point where they play in the show. That's the product that I watch.
I guess you go for the bells and whistles, party favors and head count. As far as the pricing, well we are fortunate to still have a team. If it takes them some time to recoup their losses of the key then so be it. They will figure it out. Not having the seating capacity that EveRATT does they have to price accordingly. Thus fewer cheap seats. Once again, I'm sure they will figure out that behinds in the seats are better than nothing. But that will come with time. You see you are the perfect example of why the Bird fans and Tips fans can't stand each other. As soon as you left you couldn't wait to bash on this organization. Go play with your cow bells & bobble heads and be happy. And let us enjoy the game.

Anonymous said...

If you look at the records over the past five seasons, Seattle and Everett are comparable in the W-L column. So, to say that Everett always puts a winner on the ice and Seattle doesn't, is false. The Silvertips have a huge advantage in that the community has its own newspaper and radio station where they are mentioned or talked about almost daily. That puts them constantly in the public's mind. And it may still say Seattle on the front of the jersey but they are now in all reality,the Kent Thunderbirds. To say this team has a huge advantage in the population dept. is false. They are not going to get the people living in Seattle to come to Kent for a major junior hockey game. They have to get the people of Kent and the surrounding areas. This means marketing to a whole new fan base, the majority of whom don't know the T-birds exist or know nothing of the game of hockey. I believe the team is going to market this club to the entire south sound but moving in mid-season puts them behind the 8-ball in that regard. I'm not sure, when you consider parking is free, that the ticket prices are that unreasonable when compared to other teams. Most teams get a percentage of the parking fee, so when the parking is free, you have to make up for it somewhere else.

MarcS74 said...

I think it is pretty unrealistic to expect a sell out every night. I would say that we should expect near sell outs and friday and saturday nights.

So far I like the atmosphere at the Sho, even when there are only 3k people it is still capable of being loud and doesn't feel empty.

I also don't think $22 for a ticket is outrageous and it is only up $2 from when they were in Key Arena. And it is only $15.50 a ticket if you get season tickets for most of the seats.

The only thing I wish for the T-birds fans is that the new ones get educated on how to act at a hockey game.

Marc

Anonymous said...

To anonymous above....Don't think the T-Birds derived any money from parking at the Key. Also I could park right across the street for $5not a big deal! what is a big deal is paying more money in the middle of the season for a ticket. Then add in the concessions that my family would spend I'm behind. More importantly it's the idea that your changing fan bases and trying to attract "NEW" fans. With no deals out there how do they attract new fans? I do understand that this has been a rush deal and they don't have a Everett size newspaper but all the south end cities do have local papers which have added aliitle coverage of the team. And i know for a fact that advertising in those local papers is cheaper than the Everett Herald.
BTW from what the police have said to me outside the arena don't expect parking to be free forever.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely brutal marketing and planning on behalf of the T-birds management. I agree we need to give this some time, but if you are going to move to a working class suburb and market yourself as family entertainment, you have to give families a reason to come. They are not going to get families to come with the current pricing structure and what amazes me is hearing before they moved in that they expected 5,500-6K for the rest of the year. Somebody better tear up the current strategy and start on Plan B.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Thunnex said...

Brian... look bud... I'm all for free speech but that comment was in relatively poor taste and I will not tolerate that here on the blog. Keep it clean and I don't have a problem letting people voice their opinions.

Quite frankly... I'm sick of this attendance debate, don't most of you just want to focus on the two big games this weekend?

Anonymous said...

What south sound papers in the Kent area have their own daily newspaper? If you are talking about the Tacoma News Tribune, they put themselves in the same boat as the Seattle Times when it comes to the pecking order for covering teams.
So you could park across the street for 5 bucks and that is no big deal but you are complaining because the T-birds are charging an extra 2 bucks at ShoWare? They are saving you 3 dollars.

Anonymous said...

I realize that you maybe a bit limited in your math skills as well as other skills we won't mention here. But the way I choose to add it up 1 car with 4 or 5 people in it costs $5 at the Key to park. Those same 4 to 5 people at the Sho costs $8 to $10 more to get in. Yet I park for free. Thats minus $3 to $5. I'm glad it's nothing for you to pay more in midseason to watch the same mediocre product. Why don't you just give the ownership a blank check?
I feel bad for you that you always come to the game alone and can't understand those of us who have a family to bring. Why don't I get your name and number and you can buy me a beer next game?

Anonymous said...

BTW the south end papers are not "Daily's" they are some weekly and some bi-weekly some are called the "reporters". It costs very little to put an add and a coupon in them. But I'm sure the marketing staff and ownership group you so want to defend knows all about them since those papers started covering the team a little since they came to Kent.

The media in Seattle will never put these guy's ahead of High school sports unless they actually win something. That's the great thing about managing and coaching this team.... no media.....no pressure to win and the merry go round continues

MarcS74 said...

The T-birds are 12-5-0-1 at home this year, I wouldn't think that is mediocre. They are 5-1-0-1 at the Sho.

If you are buying beer in any arena/stadium then you really shouldn't be complaining about ticket price.

T-Bo said...

Opening the building mid season might not have helped.
When everett started the economy was much better of.
Another thing i keep thinking about, is how the Comcast arena stands out, you see it from I5 and 2 for miles, whereas Showare is almost hard to find, the constant reminder of seeing the building might help with sales.
I live in Kent and have seen almost no marketing whatsoever, they could at least put flags/banners at Kent station to start with.

Anonymous said...

I'm not buying beer. I'll leave that up to you since you have an abundance of cash.

Anonymous said...

Geez, you complain about the price of your ticket, you complain about the price of the beer, you complain about the "medicocre" team on the ice and you complain about the horrible organization. What they h*ll are you doing coming to the games? Oh yeah, complaining. I'll call the T-birds and tell them to put the gun away they are holding to your head, that forces you to attend.

Thunnex said...

Hey guys... if you want to have a personal debate. Go over to the forum, don't do it here.

I don't care and I don't want to see it.

If you have a problem or an issue with the front office or the fine people that work for them... call them yourself. I can't do anything for you.

If we can't keep the comments relevant... I will just turn the comments off or I will moderate them and I really don't want to have to do that.

Jim said...

Relax Tyler!

Let them go at it. If this blog is nothing more than a T-bird love fest nothing changes. Isn't that what blogs are all about?

Thunnex said...

Tbirds talk yes, hockey talk yes...

Personal attacks back and forth no... I'm just not going to put up with it, it's crappy discourse and I'm not going to encourage that here.

Everyone knows there is a good way and a poor way to have civil and honest debate and I'm going to expect and uphold that standard here...

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