What could brutally good owners do for Thrashers fans?

In the almost four full seasons that I have had the pleasure of hosting this little blog-thingy, we’ve discussed numerous varying topics here. We’ve debated the skills and value of countless players as well as certain coaching strategies, and we’ve shared thoughts on draft picks and trades possibilities. While we’ve many times found ourselves having to simply agree to disagree on whatever the issue of the day was, there is one subject that most of us have always found common ground on.

That common ground being… our general distain for the current Thrashers ownership group.

However, as Chris Vivlamore has reported recently reported, there are as many as five entities that have express interest in purchasing the team and ridding Thrasherville of the Atlanta Spirit, LLC, (Lies, Lawsuits and Contempt) once and for all. That day cannot come soon enough…but I do believe it is indeed coming.

Young Jack deserves brutally good owners for a change (Photo by Keith Woldrop and used with the permission of Heather and Ryan Anderson)

Young Jack deserves brutally good owners for a change. If so, his mom and dad would probably have him at more games (Photo by Keith Woldrop and used with the permission of Heather and Ryan Anderson)

But once that day does arrive…and then eventually passes…there will be quite a lot of work required to undo what the AS. LLC have done to this organization and it’s fan base. The damage is extensive, but not beyond repair.

With that in mind, the question I would pose to you this morning is this: If you had the ear of [insert name of possible new owner(s) here], what changes would you suggest they take under consideration? Such an opportunity could come during a town hall meeting…something Don Waddell and the Spiriteers have denied us the pleasure of this year for some odd reason.

What’s that you say out there? “Ice a winning team and the fans will come”.

Yes, yes, yes…winning more games will do wonders to eliminate empty seats in Philips Arena. But until a history of success is established here, there is going to have to be certain changes made in order to address the very serious issue of attendance.

Increasing the payroll would probably be the first thing many of you would offer up to any new owner. We’ve been at or near the bottom of the league minimum for the last several seasons, and we’ve seen what’s come from operating a franchise on a bargain-basement budget.

It gets you a one-way ticket to the bottom of the standings, an early spring tee-time and many times another trip to Lotterypickville.

So payroll is a good place to start for owners, I’m sure we call all agree. But for the sake of this exercise, what I’m looking from you are no-cost, common sense ideas that will increase attendance and better the overall experience at Thrashers games in the here-and-now.

For example, here are three things I would toss out there that don’t come with a price tag and could very possibly have positive results:

First off, I would remove that hideous black curtain that blocks off the 400 sections atop Philips Arena…the Curtain of Shame, as I refer to it. It was placed there at the beginning of the season in order to move the paying customers closer to the ice as to make the place looking less empty.

Let’s just say…mission not accomplished.

Instead I think it would be a good idea to open it up, even if it’s just for $5 general admission seating. Something is always better than nothing when it comes to selling tickets and bringing in possible new fans. It would make for a great place for the many college students in our area to meet to enjoy the game, or even just for those who are otherwise on a tight budget these days.

Ian, (also known as Badger Bob on this blog), joins his wife, son and friend celebrating an Eric Boulton goal earlier this season. I'm sure they would also celebrate some new thinking that would come from possible new ownership (AJC photo)

Ian, (also known as Badger Bob on this blog), joins his wife, son and friend celebrating an Eric Boulton goal earlier this season. I'm sure they will celebrate new ownership as well (AJC photo)

If you get even 1,000 fans to part ways with an Abe Lincoln to see NHL hockey, then you’ve made five grand that night. Plus, once in the building, those people will add to concession sales.

On top of that, you’ve allowed your product to be viewed by those who might otherwise not pony up the money for more expensive seats…and maybe they’ll like what they see enough to return. If they do, maybe…just maybe… they’ll pay a few more bucks to sit a little closer.

Either way…I would say, “Mr. New Owner, tear down this curtain”!

One other no-cost suggestion I’d make is to start all weeknight home games at 7:30. I’ve been on the fence on this subject in years past, but now I’m convinced the puck drop needs to be backed up 30 minutes.

The logic of starting games at 7:00, so I’ve been told, is to allow families enough time to get the kiddies back home after games in time to tuck them in bed at a decent time. Nice thought, but the thousands of empty seats that greet us every Monday through Thursday night scream that the strategy is not working.

Traffic in Atlanta is a nightmare. And for many, public transit is not a viable option. Cars are our freedom and most of us use them to get to work every day. Trying to get back home afterwards, gather the spouse and tax-exemptions, then get down to the arena for at start time just after 7 pm creates a serious logistical challenge. Especially if your looking to grab dinner before the game.

If fans aren’t bringing the family, 7:30 start times would allow enough time to enjoy a nice sit down meal with friends after work…maybe an adult beverage or two…before they head to the arena in time for the start of the game.

7:00 Saturday starts are fine…and I like Sunday matinees.

There has always been a special connection with the Thrashers players and their fans. With the right ownership leading the organization, that connection can be made even ctronger for generations to come (Photo Mochelle Rivers)

There has always been a special connection with the Thrashers players and their fans. With the right ownership leading the organization, that connection can be made even stronger for generations to come (Photo Michelle Rivers)

Lastly, I would like to see any new owner insist that whomever owns the television rights to Thrashers games air all 41 away games. Even if it means they cut back on a few home games on TV, there is no reason that Thrashers fans cannot watch their team play every out-of-town games without having to drop major coin on the NHL Center Ice package.

At the beginning of this season, just after the home opening win against the Washington Capitals and trip to Tampa the following night, the Thrashers embarked on a three game swing out on the left coast. Those three battles in L.A., Anaheim and San Jose were not televised locally, and because of it most Thrashers fans were unable to see two very exciting wins and Anthony Stewart’s hat trick.

That’s really not the way you want too follow up on the excitement that comes with opening the season with a thrilling win over the defending division champs and the anticipation that comes with a brand new NHL campaign.

Again, the best thing any possible new owner can do is to do whatever is necessary to help bring in a winning team. Ws in the standings have a way of curing just about everything that ails a franchise. But there are still things that they could do to mend a lot of wounds that the current ownership cluster have inflicted upon the good people of Thrasherville.

I’ve listed just a few…I’m sure you have some of your own to offer up.

221 comments Add your comment

Tom

March 22nd, 2011
6:56 am

Tom

March 22nd, 2011
7:08 am

A new ownership group will lift the Eeyore like cloud that hangs over Phillips Arena the day it takes over.

From the first day of the incestuous purchase from Turner/AOL this ownership group has destroyed value.

The Atlanta Spirit cost Turner an extra 200+ million dollars by circumventing David McDavid so that the kids could get a new toy.

The Spirit’s incessant bickering put millions of dollars into lawyers pocket and stole the attention needed to run the teams and arena by putting it on their infighting.

Their lack of sports management knowledge alienated fans and companies that would have supported the teams and provided the economic cushion needed for success.

Essentially their dishonesty and double dealing doomed the franchises to attracting the mercenaries and not the passionate players.
———————-
A new ownership group will remove the stain, the cloud, the ambivalence that surrounds Phillips Arena and provide a positive experience for fans and businesses to support the local teams.

World Be Free

March 22nd, 2011
7:18 am

What has to happen? Close the escape door to the locker room at Philips arena, get the players signed long term and build “brand name” for the Thrashers to be identified with. Buff is the first impact player in recent memory to be signed to such a deal. Hossa, Heatley, Savard, Kovy and more have excited with little or no return. We get to see Chris Kunitz make plays and hoist the Stanley Cup wearing a Pens uniform. Commit to building a core, a “brand” in which people can identify with. How many ex-players’ jerseys do you see displayed by fans at Philips Arena?

You want people to come to the arena? Close the revolving door; people pay to see players.

TheScarfisMine

March 22nd, 2011
7:26 am

Well said! In addition to airing away games, I would ask them to make a deal with a local station (Peachtree TV?) to air games. The only way to see games now is to have a cable sports package, and if you have AT&T Uverse, forget Center Ice! Those that want to watch the games will find a way (hello, internet streaming!), but it would be good to get the team in front of more eyeballs by making it easily accessible to those that may be flipping through a basic cable or OTA package.
Keep up the good work, Rawhide!

Sage of Bluesland

March 22nd, 2011
7:36 am

1. Finally fire the very face of this inept franchise: Don Waddell.

Everything else will take care of itself.

Red Light

March 22nd, 2011
7:47 am

There is one thing that costs very little in terms of investment and that is honesty. You can parade a sow’s ear and tell us it’s a silk purse, but most of us aren’t knuckle-dragging idiots and can tell the difference. The PR spin doesn’t cut it these days, from employees who describe the game to us on TV and radio to those who want us to think Angelo Esposito still has a promising NHL career in front of him. Sometimes you have to conclude certain things aren’t working before improvement can follow. Change throughout the organization and a new mission statement is required. All you have to do is see what is happening with a division rival, Tampa Bay, to know that passionate change and good leadership is essential to success. The Lightning finished behind the Thrashers in each of the last four seasons since their Cup win. They blew up their staff, they added key players and they know have leadership and direction. AND, they did it in the span of seven months!

Red Light

March 22nd, 2011
7:49 am

and they now have leadership and direction.

hoosier_hoser

March 22nd, 2011
7:49 am

The Thrashers need a management face on the franchise. This face must relate to the fan base and represent the fan base within the Thrasher management team. Here think Arthur Blank of the Falcons, Ted Turner of the Braves in the 90’s, Mark Cuban of the Mavericks. These owners build the brand, promote the brand and convince the fan base that they have a collective seat at the table. After the damage done by ASG (lies, lawsuits and contempt), the fan base desperately needs a quantum boost in confidence.

Red Light

March 22nd, 2011
7:52 am

Bouwmeester’s first shot at the playoffs is evaporating again. All teams in front of Calgary have 2 or 3 games in hand on the Flames, and with only seven games left they’re going to need at least five wins to stay in the race.

Bluestreak

March 22nd, 2011
8:00 am

Something the Thrash did a few years ago that I thought was so simple it was genius was the sweater swap. I’m sure most of you remember this endeavor, the new baby blue sweater came out and they wanted to give those of us with enemy sweaters the opportunity to trade in our old duds for a brand new baby blue. There was always the complaint that even when the seats were full, there was always tons of sweaters for the enemy, since many hockey fans in Atlanta were carpetbag..er, transplants to the city. My excuse was Carolina got a team before we did and I love hockey, so I had a ‘Canes sweater and hat.

This ingenious offer was so popular that they were out of the baby blue sweaters before they knew what hit them. SO, I got a sweet hat out of the deal, just having to wait for the new batches of baby blues to come in.

All of this to say is, if you want to get buy in from old or new fans, the new owner needs to give stuff to the fan base. Get sweaters and hats out there to the buying public. You’ll have walking advertisement and a fan base that feels wanted.

And I hope that they’ll do the same for the court birds too. I wan’t the AS, LLosers out of all Atlanta sports. They are a plague. (Ok, I’m sure most of these guys are great personally, but they are clueless as sports business owners)

tbone

March 22nd, 2011
8:03 am

Let the old Flames players that live in the area be part of the effort to promote the team. Be proud of our old Flames.

Bluestreak

March 22nd, 2011
8:04 am

Sage, I agree with you. The current batch of owners have given Daffy Don enough rope. The new owners need to start fresh at that level, even if just for symbolic reasons.

I think the GM is set. And I would give Rammer another chance with a real payroll investment.

Swede

March 22nd, 2011
8:07 am

Firing Don Waddell would be a great start. Take the scouts while doing it.

Mr. Heat Miser

March 22nd, 2011
8:15 am

Get rid of that huge wall of non-working TV’s in Philips Experience and Headlines Grill. Sane concession prices and concession workers without attitude. Maybe a new jersey design. Waddell selling hot dogs.

Cliff Fletcher

March 22nd, 2011
8:16 am

it always seems to come back to waddell, can’t disagree with that at all. but swede brings up an equally important point, get rid of the chefs that have been serving up bad food, the scouts have to go with d-wad.

tbone//get in touch with our past, the ex-flames are all over the arena. get them involved!

Buzzeng

March 22nd, 2011
8:21 am

EPIC DISCONNECT – building a brand around “A Brutally Good Time” and hiring a coach that thinks physical play is overrated.

The new ownership group needs to have hockey sense and be part of the organization’s planning – not just textbook toothpaste marketing types. No more Epic Disconnects like that.

I agree with the 7:30 weeknight starts. When I was a kid, I was only allowed to go to Fr/Sa/Su games because of the school night issue and I’m still a fan (depsite how tough it’s been for 30+ years).

As an out-of-state fan, I would really like to see more TV coverage on the national outlets (Versus, NBC, etc.), but that’s a “win and it will come” issue. Failing that, can they at least run re-plays of every game later at night?

Can the new owners do something about the farm system? Relying on a disconnected franchise in Chicago to prep/train/build players for a system we’re not using at the NHL level seems ludicrous to me. Fix it. I think the “Elevating Gwinnette” option is worth serious consideration.

Until the Thrashers can build a solid, competitive team that shows up for 60 minutes every game, we won’t get press (other than bad press) and we won’t get breaks from the referees or Toronto. Fix that.

Go Thrashers!!

Dwayne

March 22nd, 2011
8:21 am

We all agree that Don needs to go, I do not think anyone actually thinks he should be here for any reason. I think Duds can get his scouts to look at the types of players we need. New Owners is the key.

DWTOO

March 22nd, 2011
8:30 am

Just having owners that gave a damn would be an improvement. Everything else would fall in line.

Hockey Biltong

March 22nd, 2011
8:33 am

What would Bernie Mullin say???

Hockey Biltong

March 22nd, 2011
8:38 am

1-7:30 Weeknight starts.
2-Re-design jersey
3-Repair Arena-[toilets, tv's, bring back customer service]
4-Entice fans with cheap seats. FILL the ARENA you dumbasses.
5- Free WIFI[duh!]
6- Let people bang on the glass fer gawds sakes.It is what hockey is .

HonkyTonkHero

March 22nd, 2011
8:39 am

Culture…thats what needs to be built. Look around at teams in the South like Carolina and Nashville (I know the Preds are Western Conf but talking geographically here). Those teams have a clear identity now and have embraced the regional culture. Heck…Nashville fans are now throwing catfish out on the ice! Canes fans are notirous for their BBQ tailgating and just look at what a good job they did hosting the All-Star Games this year.

>Bring in the old Flames guys and make them visible.
>Build a shrine of old Flames stuff and heck…even Knights…just pay homage to hockey in ATL.
>Bring in more folks from the local music scene and let them play during intermissions and anthems.
>More youth/adult hockey scrimages and skills comps during intermission…less GOLF and slingshots!
>No keyboard or pop music, more southern rock and metal.
>Big evil looking Thrasher bird with its wings down…forming a tunnel…that the players skate out of before the game. I know….a bit cheesy but its fun and it is impressive.
>No more blueland silliness. Just Thrasherville will work. Its the original name of that part of town and the name fits. What the heck is Believe in Blueland? (I know…I wear the t-shirts…but I often wonder why)

I think a new owner has to implement alot of changes like this and do it quick. We need to shake it hard…just like a wet dog. After that shake it needs to be like…Atlanta Spi….who?

HonkyTonkHero

March 22nd, 2011
8:39 am

Oh….and hot water in ALL the restrooms.

sisu

March 22nd, 2011
8:51 am

One can look to Tampa to see many great things the new owner has done, all the season ticket holders got a new jersey this season with a microchip in it to guarantee an automatic discount on concessions ( I believe it was 25% or 35%). As many of you know they had a lot worse situation than we have had here so there is hope.

The 7:30 start is a must, too often people show up just in time for that time.

Get separate owners for the two teams so I will not have to have the Hawks crammed down my throat at every turn!

Funny how this team tried to get a dman that signed for less in Chicago and also in Tampa…that shows how terrible the situation is.

Smoothie

March 22nd, 2011
8:51 am

Most of the arguments supporting the 7 pm start are weak at best. If your child normally goes to bed at 9 pm, then even a 7 pm start is too late. With all due respect to our wonderful families, the new owner must focus on tapping into the post-college graduate demo as well as the later twentysomethings with disposable income and an appetite for beer etc. Give people time to get downtown and thus enhance their overall experience since they won’t have to rush and scramble to their seats. New ownership needs to focus on growing the game and use more creative marketing to get the 18-30 crowd in the building, even if it means buy a fri/sat nite tkt and get a tues/wed nite for free. Families who want to be there will figure out a way to get to games on weekends and when their skeds allow. My dad used to take me to Hartford from Albany, NY during the week cuz tkts were easier to get. Do you think he cared about me losing sleep and getting home at 130 am? No, he wanted to enjoy NHL hockey with his son. I still got good grades and managed to grow up without becoming a slack-ass derelict who doesn’t contribute to society! ;)

ThrashDawg

March 22nd, 2011
8:52 am

I have already told my ticket sales representative I am on board for season tickets the minute we get new ownership. Nothing more is required from me. I would like to see our AHL team out of Chicago and money spent on better player development. If you draft well, develop young talent and are willing to spend a little money on bringing in the right free agents or making the right trades the Thrashers will be set and I will be a season ticket holder. We just want ownership that gives a damn about hockey and we will spend our hard earned dollar to support it!

Rawhide

March 22nd, 2011
8:55 am

Sage – I gift wrapped that one and left it all for you. :cool:

40yrs

March 22nd, 2011
9:00 am

Hang sweater number 37 from the rafters!!!!

hockeygoon79

March 22nd, 2011
9:18 am

I vote for Jack as this year’s 7th Fan Award winner!

JT from Columbus

March 22nd, 2011
9:25 am

Agree with the ex-Flames idea. Have a reunion and let them come out on the ice at the first home game after the ownership change so we can acknowledge them. Atlanta has a pretty good hockey tradition.
Also, use the weekend games to cater to the youth. Discount tix etc. Got to start getting kids excited about the game. My 9yr old would rather watch a Thrashers game than anything else.

Alan R.

March 22nd, 2011
9:26 am

I’ve always felt the former Flames got shafted in regards to the Thrashers. Those Flames players ought to be brought into the fold.

mar1jdh

March 22nd, 2011
9:28 am

To echo a lot of the sentiments here, and I’ve shared this with my ST Rep. (I’m still holding on as an innagural STH, but i’m wavering this year.)

-A better 300 level experience. Bring some energy to the Philips experience between periods with music, fix the Triangualr TV tower, brign the wall of ancient TV’s down and add lighting (There are only two lights on most of the level)
-7:30 weeknights. i have a 6 yo son and i won’t bring him for any school night game at that age, save for a special occassion, since he goes to be between 8-9. 7:30 helps for traffic and parking and allowing me to keep me job! (Although the Sunday matinee’s are great. Thats the game for families.)
-Ditto on the hot water in the bathrooms, that is the best illustration of how cheap ASG is, plus make sure you never run out of paper towels. Its basic cleanliness at stake here
-Honor the Flames, Knights, etc. As much as i want the “Knights” chant in theanthem to go away, i’ve resigned myslef to the fact that it won’t, so lets embrace all of the local hockey heritage.
-Ditto 37. I’d much rather have a permanent banner for DS than one for the innagural season or a long ago All Star Game. DS represented everything that Atlanta hockey fans want from our team.
-Reward the fans with a welcome back game, cheap concession’s, lots of giveaways, anything it takes to fill the place
-Don Waddell, Bruce Levinson, and friends in a dunk tank at the next town hall

Sherry

March 22nd, 2011
9:30 am

Get rid of the red third jersey. It looks like a football jersey not a hockey sweater. When announcing the spirit squad at the beginning of the year put them in over-sized jerseys instead of bikinis. The bikini don’t make sense. Hockey is a winter sport. The over-sized jerseys will still give sex appeal you want cuz hockey chicks I’ve been told are hot. Do small give away promoting the players. More people come for the give away and they’ll remember how cool the sport is. Even Detroit has give away. Get out in the community more and advertise you’re out there. If people know the players care about their fans they will make new fans and more fans will care about the players

Hoof Arted

March 22nd, 2011
9:31 am

Well done as per ususal, BlogMaster.

I like all your suggestions, but one other I would like to see is the team organize some sort of pre-game activities before weekend home games. There is a great area for BBQ tailgate parties between Philips and the Dome, it’d be a great way to hang out with fellow Thrashers fans.

Oh and I agree with hockeygoon79. That kid deserves 7th Fan props!

KLS1

March 22nd, 2011
9:38 am

Need a new jumbo-tron and show replays so people can get into the game…stop all the little silly promos that fill the down time.

KLS1

March 22nd, 2011
9:43 am

By the way…looks like Phoenix is staying put, we will have a giant target on our back if this sale doesn’t move along quickly.

Joe McGrath

March 22nd, 2011
9:53 am

At the end of the game, win or lose, the Thrashers should stand center ice and raise their sticks to the fans.
Take a note from the Braves and work on becoming a regional team. Play more preseason games in the “local” area. Huntsville, Knoxville, Birmingham, Columbus (Ga.) Augusta, Gwinnette, Biloxi, Pennsacola all have facilities available for hockey in late Sept, early Oct. Put together clinics in these towns. Columbus youth program is in its infancy and the Thrashers should be a part of that too. Same with Birmingham, as the small but steady youth program there could use
some Thrasher love.

ranallo10 (in AT)

March 22nd, 2011
9:56 am

Please forgive me in advance for the Brendanesque novella.

I think the first step to fixing the problem would be to improve the notoriously low attendance. Any owner that expects to make money from the Atlanta Thrashers needs to fill the seats, plain and simple. As we all know, more people in the building obviously equals more concessions, more merchandise sales, and more interested viewers. In my opinion a 16000 average attendance should be the target for ownership, and must be achieved within the next 3 years.

There are countless ways to do this, but until the Thrashers become synonymous with winning seasons and playoff hockey the on-ice product will NOT be the sole contributor towards filling the seats. So, the owners need to find a way to quickly fill the stands, and draw in more potential repeat customers without incurring much more losses than they are at the current pace.

Here are my two suggestions (not ground breaking new ideas, mind you):

1. Discount EVERY SINGLE SEAT in the arena.

No sales, just across the board price cuts. Without bleeding any more money than they already are, the ownership group can discount every seat and turn the gate revenue money from the 11-13 thousand fans into 16-18 thousand fans. Global seating price cuts should remedy the general attendance problem, and from that core of attending fans the fan base can continue to grow (and ultimately the ownership bring the prices back to 2011 standards, and begin to attempt to recoup their losses). Nearly every person sits at their seat thinking “I bet it’s better if I was closer to the ice”. Give them the opportunity to get hooked by those nice seats by making the pricing available to them at the same rate they’re paying currently. Either the fan takes advantage and continues paying for 300 level seats, or you’ve found a new 200 level customer … effectively freeing the 300 level seats for the frugal new customers you’re hopefully enticing from above. The trickle upgrade effect should bear fruit once prices are brought back up.

2. Offer to lock up season ticket holders for multiple years at a discounted price.

Offer multiple year deals at a discounted but escalating price, not matching the 100% ticket value until year 3 of the contract between fan and owner. Generate lasting interest in Season Ticket Holders, while appealing to their “bulk discount” sensibility. Everybody is frugal, so give the STHs an opportunity to GUARANTEE they’ll spend money on the Thrashers, but the owners in turn guaranteeing the STH’s investment is cheaper to make long term than it is short term.

3. Make STHs feel the Thrashers are worth the continued investment.

Continue to entice all full season ticket holders with various offers. For instance, give them 10 “guest passes” for their friends to attend any home game of your choice (clearly the lock-in period for these games would need to be stipulated). The guest pass would be for the high 300 section, but for a very nominal and incremental fee can be upgraded to designated lower sections, if available. While there is no guarantee that your guests will be able to sit alongside you, you can treat a family with kids to up to two games of 300 section hockey viewing at no extra cost to the potentially new fans.

I could truly go on and on with ticketing campaigns that can squeeze even more interest out of many of the interested and partially interested fans, but every campaign would have to come at an immediate cost for the mere hope of long term success. The benefits of a higher (and consistent) attendance would not be fully recognized immediately, but would rather take patience before an increased fan base pays for itself.

Simply put, if the Thrashers sit at 13000 average attendance for another two or three seasons they will not remain in Atlanta. If the ownership group desires to make money in Atlanta, they need to remedy attendance immediately and let the competitive aspect of the franchise be run by the people who know much more than them (i.e. a quality VP of operations, which most likely isn’t already on the ASG payroll).

Cliff Fletcher

March 22nd, 2011
9:57 am

go to detroit and mimic everything mike illitch and ken holland do, both on and off the ice. that franchise was a joke before illitch took over.

remember when gretzky called new jersey a mickey mouse organization? that was 3 stanley cups ago, a distant memory.

Russian

March 22nd, 2011
10:02 am

One more thing I can add to make people LIKE HOCKEY.
Atlanta has few ICE hockey young teams.
1. One is in Duluth, Kennesaw, Marrietta Ice Center and Cooler.
2. Also we have High school ice hockey teams.
3. We have Junior III team (Knights)
4. We have College Hockey team (KSU)
5. Also High School Roler hockey teams
If new owners can make discounts price for those leauges, plus those team can play a regular game in Philips arena after Thrashers game. It will bring Fans to sits. Parents love to see his kids play a game in NHL arena. I know it, because my son played few games.

A2B

March 22nd, 2011
10:05 am

tell me if this is a good marketing idea:

Start on the glass-first 10 rows at $100 dollars per seat and take off $2 on every row after (so row 11 is $98, row 12 is $96, etc) and stop the sliding scale at $10 on the non club side (let the club side be for those who want to pay the premium to have that “title” attached to their seats). All 400 seats should be $5 and held for sale on gameday to try and get people to buy closer to the arena. Then go to all the colleges around Georgia and put a massive media blitz (TV adds during FOOTBALL since we know everyone watches that, ticket deals in student centers, etc.) so they know how competatively priced the thrashers are. Basically, it makes it so its affordable for anyone to go the games… breaks away from the stupid corporate lock up we have now. Bring down concession prices some, I work at a school and its really not that expensive to order food in the quantity that Phillips would be.

Also, with this new ticket deal, call past season ticket owners after seats have been made available to current ones and offer them seats close to their old seats with their past perks/incentives. This way they get their old seats back (or close to them) with their past perks that had at a lower price… how does anyone not win from that. By doing this and having a growing season ticket fan base it allows the new owners to mark up the few remaining seats in individual games so a season ticket holder is never undercut by a one time buyer.

Being a business person, steal the walmart concept here. 41 sellouts at a lower revenue will always create more long term stability than 15 sellouts a years at higher price. It makes the players realize there are fans here and we as fans can give them energy. How intimidating would it be to have to come to Atlanta and know that you’re facing a hard hitting team and hopefully a very vocal crowd ontop of that… not too much fun if you ask me.

I am all for the 7:30 start because I work in Roswell and there is no way I can get done working at 6 and make it to Phillips by 7 and catch the puck drop. Family events should be on the weekends when the kids have the time to do what they want and dont have to worry about being up early for school the next day.

The owners need to be more public and viewable to the paying customers. Teams that have true loyalty have owners who are transparent and act like a paying customer themselves sometimes. Arthur Blank, Marc Cuban both do this on a regular basis and interact with their customers to find out what they want.

Lastly, have the players more available to fans. I think hockey is about the only sport where you can’t get an autograph at a game. Iit would be cool to be like baseball where if you got there early enough you can get a signed puck or something from a player. It just helps make a kids night that much more memorable so they ask mom and dad to go back and see if they can get another player to sign a different object (I say this because I have a rare jersey/hat combo framed that has Heatley, Snyder, Kovy, Savard, and Hossa all framed in one setting).

Ok, sorry about the mini tirade there but just had to get that off my chest.

A2B

March 22nd, 2011
10:09 am

forgot to say the first paragraph is for season ticket holders

MASHAPlayer7

March 22nd, 2011
10:15 am

In addition to the Ilitich Detroit blueprint, mirror what Tampa Bay and Tom Pegula in Buffalo has done. There was a great interview on Bettman’s NHL XM show with the TB owner…everything he said related back to relationships with the fans. They’re even changing out the seats because people complained they were too uncomfortable. Pegula and his wife hosted a dinner for players and team staff as an opportunity to get to know everyone personally. Mr. Pegula realizes Buffalo is not a 1st choice destination for many players, so he’s doing what he can to build a hockey family in Buffalo.

We need hands-on owners in Atlanta who personally care about players, team staff, fans and the community. Mix in a little business sense and organizational development, and everything else will fall into place.

stephen

March 22nd, 2011
10:16 am

Build a culture of what Atlanta hockey is! Is it fast paced scoring, neutral zone trap, rugged forechecking in the corners, or whatever it is? Then teach the customers what they should be looking for on the ice. Draft and sign players who fit that culture. Show that the plan is being followed. Create accountability that the plan is being followed in the organization that shows fans that commitment to winning.

Also fire Don Waddell and even take him into the woods and leave him for dead

Smoothie

March 22nd, 2011
10:54 am

Get new goalies. j/k But seriously, a combined save percentage of .818 over the last 4 games??? Ick! How bad can your defense get? They’ve only allowed 99 SOG in the four games, yet 18 of them have beaten our goalies. Okay, so which defender(s) do you get rid of??

One small change I’d like to see with respect to the fan in-game experience is a switch to cans for the beer served inside the arena as well as on the concourse. If someone wants draft beer, fine. Have some of that too, but let’s face it, those dark, brown bottles don’t get cold enough fast enough nor do they stay cold long enough. Beer stays colder in a can and I want my beer COLD!! I’ve seen fans in every Canadian hockey city on the glass holding or drinking from CANS. Is this that much to ask?? And get more Molson, Labatt and Genny Light (just kidding) in the arena for God’s sake!! :)

Sherry Taylor

March 22nd, 2011
11:00 am

I disagree about the 7:30 puck drop, but it’s a selfish reason. We travel in from Gainesville for the games and a 7:30 puck time would mean we’re back home about 11:30 pm depending on the traffic coming out of the parking garage. If it’s bad, then it would be more like midnight. We drive in 50 miles every home game, leave home at 5:15 pm and arrive in the CNN center in time, most nights to have an adult beverage in the food court or one in the stands. If we decide to eat then we always have time to do that in the food court or in the arena but rarely do you have to eat in our seats because of time constraints. I guess my point is if we can make it in with a bit of time to spare you guys in town can certainly make it with time on your hands.

I think what I most want to see from new owners is an enthusiasm for the game itself, but most of all, for the team. The team and the fans have known from day one that the ASG had no loyalty or enthusiasm for hockey. They strong-armed their way into ownership of the Thrashers because they were part of the package not because they wanted them. I want an owner who loves hockey and will love the Thrashers and will love the fans. The first season we got a great fleece pull over as a season ticket holder, this season we got a lanyard–a cheap one at that. Not that I want an owner to buy my loyalty but it shows the loyalty of the owners–nonexistent. If you love something you’re going to be involved and VISIBLE! These current owners have hidden away, if they are there at the games, in a box somewhere and heaven forbid they show themselves at a season ticket holders meeting or gathering. I want to see that they are proud to be involved. That says something to the players, the coach and the fans. And, let’s face it, we fans are their bread and butter.
I’d also like to see some workshops for new fans or women or teens. The kids are learning about hockey through their teams, but new fans don’t get that. In the first few seasons I looked for some kind of ‘help’ so I would know what the heck my Canadian born husband was fussing about when watching a game, there are books, but, I’m visual and hands-on.
I guess I would hope the new owners will reach out to the community, the fan base that is already involved and the fan base that is yet to be tapped. Hockey can make it in Atlanta it just needs someone to nurture and bring it up.

Smoothie

March 22nd, 2011
11:09 am

Until mass transit in this city is improved, and worth a damn, it is silly to start games before 7:30. If you live in Gainesville and don’t like getting home at 11:30, then perhaps you should move closer to town. I’m sorry, but any argument supporting a 7 pm start in a city of 6 million people with some of the WORST traffic in the country just rings hollow. If people want more time at home to grab a bite to eat, throw on their game jersey, wait for the baby-sitter to get to the house etc, then they should have more time ahead of the game. Who cares what time you have to go to bed on a weeknight. If you can get to sleep by midnight on a work night, then you as an adult should be able to function okay the next day. It’s unfortunate that the arena wasn’t built closer to where the majority of where our fanbase lives, but we’re stuck with it. Hopefully the area around the arena and Gulch will become more attractive to draw more folks regularly for games, but I’m sick of seeing only 5-7,000 butts in the seats for puck drop and then 10-15,000 by the 2nd period. It’s just plain silly.

AtlFlamesFan

March 22nd, 2011
11:14 am

Start with the obvious: Fire Waddell.

Flames: Yes! They should be acknowledged. I would love to see a Burning A with 1972-1980 hanging from the rafters. I’d even go as far as a throwback game, having the Thrashers wear Flames jerseys. Maybe an old-timers game: Lysiak, Bouchard, Plett, Vail, and Ecclestone all live in the area.

7:30 Start times: I love 7:00, but can understand why for some 7:30 would be better, so a change would be okay with me.

Youth hockey: The Dallas Stars did a great job of promoting youth hockey. While we have 8 sheets of ice in the Atlanta area (including the MIC’s small rink, but not counting Philips or Gwinnett Arena), I believe that in Dallas they have over 20 sheets. The Stars have been very active in building youth hockey, and therefore, their future client base. Have some practices at some of the other local rinks so the kids in Marietta, Roswell, Kennesaw and now Cumming can watch.

High School and College Hockey double headers. I think the marketing department required teams to sell a certain amount of tickets in order to let them play after games. Drop that requirement. Promote the game! Bring back the Tech-UGA games and PUBLICIZE YELLOW JACKETS VS. BULLDOGS on ICE! Kennesaw State, Georgia State, Emory! Invite other Southeastern club teams to play: Auburn, Alabama, Clemson, Florida, etc.

Invite U of Alabama-Huntsville to play after a Thrashers game, cross-promotion with the only NCAA D1 ice hockey team in the south.

Move Gwinnett to AHL. Replace their ECHL spot with either Savannah, Columbus, Augusta, or Macon.

Atlanta Thrasher Prestige Tags. Reimburse STH for the $25 manufacturing fee.

SomaAtl95

March 22nd, 2011
11:14 am

1. Fire D-Wad, if for any other reason so we can all talk about hockey (aside from the 11 years of pain we have witnessed from DW we hear at least once a week how DW needs to be gone. Time is well past for that and I think Sage would wet himself from the excitement)
2. Bring former Atlanta Hockey players into the mix. My first Thrashers game ever was their first home game against Calgary (and first ever home victory). Before puck drop they gave former Flames greats a Thrashers jersey and gave away a TV. I think that was the last time that ever happened. Show Atlanta that the Knights were successful in their short span here. Show Atlanta that the Knights had the first Black head coach, John Paris, and one of the first pro goalies who was of the fairer gender, Manon Rheaume. Honor the past while building a future. Ask people as they file in for games what the Thrashers means to them. Make a point during TV broadcasts to show the Thrashers in Atlanta as they interact with the community and also SHOW THAT THERE ARE YOUTH LEAGUES SET UP IN THE AREA. Anyone who has seen a Ducks game on Center Ice knows that they have youth programs and even offer Training camps with Ducks players. Showing that there is homegrown support for the sport would help show our neighbors who covet our team that there is community support.
3. Bring back retired players and let them be involved with the sportscasts, a la Mike Milbury and his intermission reports of Bruins games. I see Bobby Holik on NHL Network, why couldn’t he replace Kincade between periods? Replace Matt McConnell with a former Thrasher (just pick one) who will not use the following words/phrases: Bouncing Puck, Jam (or any form Jammed, Jamming, etc) Sniglet, The Hockey Way, etc etc etc. We all made fun of JR after the Hawks won last June because he cried, but thats what the Thrashers need as a broadcast face – someone with an emotional connection as the broadcast voice of the team.
4. Take a page from the Braves – bring former greats in as coaches, assistants, or as motivation. Its amazing that with their playing days long behind them you will find names like Glen Hubbard and Terry Pendleton still in the Braves family.
5. I know I will get flamed for this but keep certainty in the coaching position. If new ownership is going to show gumption and actually spend money for top talent then our coaching should succeed. Nobody said a bad thing about Rammer from late October to late December. Make it known that we are no longer a revolving door for talent and a death knell for coaches.
6. Make it easier to find things like the St Pattys Jerseys, Majectic “Baseball” style jerseys and other things that fans can spend money on. Finding a Black “Ice Flirt” Jersey for my wife was next to impossible without going to Team Gear 2. Because they weren’t on the website it was impossible to get it personalized.
7. Move the start time to 7:30 on weeknights. Encourage mass transit by offering a free soda to those who took Marta to the game (by showing tokens or marta receipt)
8. HIRE CONCESSIONS WITH A PERSONALITY. Nothing puts a damper on a game quite like someone who makes it obvious they want to be anywhere but giving you an overpriced drink. In that same vein make it so typical arena fare (pretzles, Hot dogs, etc) arent out of stock by the end of the 1st period.
9. Recognize the power of a blog. Aside from the standard blog have someone like Ben Wright post here on the AJC. More public interaction is a plus.
10. Last one, I promise – once new ownership is in place make it publicly known before the first game of the season that the Thrashers are ATLANTA’s team and are not going anywhere. Give the people who covet our team a reason to circle around some other unlucky franchise and pelt them with the nastiness and attitude that we see on a daily basis. When will the Winnipeggers start slamming St Louis, team, fans and all?

SomaAtl95

March 22nd, 2011
11:15 am

Trixie – could you release my novel? It got caught and I am not sure as to why….
Thank you!

Trixie (Rawhide's Secretary)

March 22nd, 2011
11:19 am

Mr. SomaAtl95 - Your 11:14 am post has been freed from Blog Purgatory.