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3.09.2010

The "letter" post...

I wanted to post a few thoughts on the Russ Farwell letter to season ticket holders. I get my Tbirds mail here at my office, so I didn't actually receive the letter until yesterday and quite frankly I was too busy with my real job to post anything. I have a few moments here this morning so I suppose I will opine.

I honestly wouldn't have even bothered to write about this, but it seems to be a hot button issue... so here we go.

From a business point of view I think they may have made some mistakes. I know that some fans are really unhappy and upset about this May deadline and the $10 processing fee if you are planning to make payments towards your invoice. I think people have a right to be upset about that. In the past, I have always paid in full early and received an "early bird" discount for doing that. If that is happening this year, it certainly isn't mentioned. The Tbirds should be doing everything in their power to keep people from cancelling their season tickets and I don't think this is a very proper way of doing that.

In a down year with a bad economy the team should be doing everything it can to keep people and not every has the ability to pay in full early like I do. I'm honestly not sure what the answer is... but it misses the mark in two ways.

First off... the goal is obviously to get people to pay in full early right? A $10 processing fee isn't really much of a "threat" to get people to pay. Most people I have talked to have said that the fee isn't really the problem. The problem is the perception that we are being nickle and dimed by the organization. So the whole purpose of the $10 fee isn't really working, all you're doing is making angry fans more angry.

Second off... If there was ever a year where you might have waived the early deadline, or provided some additional incentives to pay early, I certainly would have thought this would have been the year. Instead, they install a hard deadline with what appears to be no incentive. Quite honestly, it's something I don't really understand. Why now? Didn't anyone think that this might be the wrong year to make a move like this? I already hear about dozens of people threatening to cancel their tickets for a laundry list of reasons and you just gave them one more.

Simple math here: My two season tickets cost $1,116. If you lose even one client who has two season tickets. You'll need at least 112 "processed payments" just to break even on the whole deal! So just for the sake of argument, let's just say that the team winds up having 500 processed payments... and let's say you only lose those same two people. Is the extra $3884 really worth it?? Is it really worth making your fans feel like they are being nickle and dimed to get a few extra thousand bucks?

I often say that the people who are angry (such as the Anonymous who wants to just pick a fight with me for some reason) are just going to be angry no matter what the front office does. However, in this case they have actually given people another reason to be angry and that's just a bad business move right now.

Let's skip back to the beginning of the letter. I actually think most of the letter isn't that bad and quite honestly my reaction was a collective "yawn". I don't share in the opinion of some that buying season tickets entitles me to anything other than a ticket to a game.

I don't really understand this point of view that the franchise or the team owes anybody anything. When I buy my tickets, I buy them because I have been following this team for over 20 years and I like watching hockey (also the reason I started this blog 3 years ago). I am under no illusion that the team owes me anything. When you purchase a ticket it gives you the right to enter the arena (and even that isn't a complete right because they have the right to throw you out for bad behavior). I don't feel as though the team "owes" me championships or division titles or even competitive teams. Would it be nice... well of course it would! I've dreamed of the Tbirds winning a WHL title for those same 20 years, but does the team "owe" it to me to win one just because I buy tickets?? Hell no...

Everyone has their own reasons for buying tickets, whether it be season tickets or individual game tickets.

Just for "Anonymous"... here... I will say something that not one person in the organization would want me to say (oh right... but they are in my back pocket right?).

If you don't like what you see, just don't buy tickets. I'm serious... and I'm not mad about it either. If you don't like the $10 processing fee, don't renew. If you are upset that Russ will still be around, don't renew. If you're mad that Sumner will likely be the coach next year, don't renew.

Seriously people. The only real power you have is to vote with your wallet and you should feel free to exercise that right as you see fit. I'm not going to begrudge or blame any fan who says "I was upset by (fill in the blank) so I didn't renew my tickets."

As for myself... maybe I'm just a glutton for punishment. I'll be sitting in the same seat, watching the same team next season and the season after.

8 comments :

Kodi said...

You aren't the only one.

I still laugh on a daily basis at how some fans act about sports teams. I watch hockey because it was something me and my father used to do growing up.

Seattle is my team and I support them. Do I also want them to succeed.... well yeah but after a loss do I go home and cry myself to sleep.... nope I usually don't give it another thought (the friend I usually go with complains the whole ride home lol).

People who have been long time fans that don't understand what the team was trying to do this year but constantly complain about how we are always mediocre and don't win titles need to take a step off the ledge, look at both of those points and realize that the organization is trying to bring a winning team.

Oh and to complete the "agreeing with you" trifecta.... RAMSAY FOR CAPTAIN!!!!!

Anonymous said...

And heck, didn't we all just save a bunch of money by not having to buy playoff tickets? ;-)

4thebirds

Kodi said...

lol that's what I always used to tell myself when the playoff letters would come out.

"Atleast I can use it for next year"

Ericaberry2001 said...

Dude...don't even get me started on the ding-dongs who post on Facebook to "fire Rob" on Every. Single. Thread.

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of the "Don must go!" chants a few years back... and that worked out so well...

Jared said...

I thought you might like a perspective from a fist year season ticket holder. First off, I love hockey, but I hated going to Key Arena to watch games. When Showare opened, I fell in love all over again. I bought 2 tickets without thinking twice. Although this has been a tough year, I have enjoyed going to every single game.

Like you, the letter wasn't going to be the deciding factor as to whether or not I buy 2 tickets for next season. However, the letter did upset me a little, I felt a little disrespected. My friend and I went to every game, we bought merchandise, we bought food and drinks, in short we spent a lot of money. During most of these games, we sat in an arena that was barely half full.


The organization doesn't seem to offer any significant reason as to why I should buy tickets for next season earlier than I did last year(I paid the $75 deposit and then paid the rest sometime in August).

When we put down the deposit, we were told that we couldn't get seats at the end of the row. We were fine with that, we were newbies. However, my friend (another newbie), waited until the end of August and purchased 2 tickets at the end of my same row!

So I guess the question I have is, what benefit do I get if I pay in full now or wait until August? I am sure the Tbirds would love to have my money early rather than later, but I don't see a reason why I should give it to them.

So, I guess what I am saying is, that letter is another reason to be disappointed in the Tbird organization. (but I will probably still buy tickets because I love hockey).

SportManagementMajor said...

From a sport management point of view, this is not the way to be having the most success for a franchise. They really need to evaluate their mission statement because as some may be correct and accurate, it is not getting the job done when it comes to marketing goals. Throughout the year it has always bothered me about ticket prices. As a college student now, when I was in high school my dad and I would travel to various WHL games throughout the league and almost every team had a student rate which drew a big crowd. They need to start doing the little things to attract the fan base. Their not running the organization in the most successful way possible. There is so many more steps to make this a more successful franchise like the silvertips have been since they opened in everett. The tbirds need to get out into the community even more to build a larger fan base so people will want to be part of the great game of hockey. I really think they need to sit down and reevaluate what their goals are in order to have a successful franchise because having half empty arenas is not going to get you anywhere. Lets face it, its not always whats on the ice thats the problem its the front office and staff that need to make changes.

Here is the mission statement. It has some good facts but of all the US division teams in the WHL it is the LEAST affordable to attend
Our mission is to uphold the Western Hockey League mission of providing affordable family entertainment in the form of high-caliber, competitive hockey, and to develop our players and staff in a positive professional direction. By establishing the Seattle Thunderbirds in this way makes a dynamic contribution to the Greater Seattle community. The Thunderbirds are dedicated to developing the players athletic, educational, and professional talents.

Anonymous said...

I think the early deadline is all about cash flow. Usually they would have playoff money to keep things going though the early summer but not this year. I agree they should have just added an incentive to pay early rather than adding a penalty, especially after the way this season went.

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