(Update at 1:15 p.m.: The Hawks declined to comment on the survey.)
(Update at 9 a.m. Friday. The poll already has been shut down. Guess they got their answer.)
It seems the Atlanta Spirit’s past of running the Thrashers into the ground, selling them to a group that moved them to Winnipeg and possibly various decisions during their tenure with the Hawks have led them to wonder if that’s one reason fans aren’t going to basketball games.
Thanks to reader and former Thrashers season ticket holder Everett Duke for tipping me off to this: An Atlanta-based marketing research group, Alexander Babbage, sent out a survey via the Philips Arena account on Twitter Thursday morning, reading, “We need your help! Please take a moment to answer a few questions about the Atlanta Hawks.”
The Tweet includes this link to a survey, which is intended to gauge fans’ interest and feelings about the Hawks, the NBA and the ownership group. The survey is about 20 questions. (It goes to “No. 29,” but it’s actually mis-numbered and the last few questions seek personal information.) The survey is titled, “Hawks 2011-2012 Fan Pulse Study.”
The Hawks’ ownership group, led by my close friends (sarcasm) Michael Gearon Jr. and Bruce Levenson, has been trying to distance itself from the Atlanta Spirit brand and the Thrashers. Email addresses were changed from @AtlantaSpirit.com to @Hawks.com and news releases no longer reference Atlanta Spirit.
But there’s apparently enough concern about perceptions of the owners that the survey including the following:
– Question 4: Using a scale of 1 to 5 where 1 means “Not at all interested, I never follow” and 5 means “Very interested, I always follow,” please rate your level of interest in the following. The categories that follows are: sports in general; basketball; NBA lockout news; Hawks front office news; Hawks’ performances; news about Hawks ownership; news about the sale of the Thrashers; non-sporting events at Philips.
– Question 6: Using a scale from 1 to 5, where 1 means “Very negative” and 5 means “Very positive, what impact did the NBA lockout have on your opinion of the following. The categories are: NBA, Hawks overall; Hawks players; Hawks ownership.
There also are two questions gauging interest in the decision by owners to drop ticketing fees on game tickets.
Interesting that the survey avoids the direction question: “On a scale of 1 to 10, what is your opinion of Hawks’ owners?”
The Hawks declined to comment on the survey.
Here’s my view on this: There’s not a huge overlap in fan bases between the Hawks and Thrashers. But I certainly heard from several fans via email, Twitter, Facebook and in person who said the Spirit’s treatment of the Thrashers would affect their decision on whether to spend money on the Hawks or any event in Philips Arena.
Eight months later, I still hear from them.
It’s also safe to assume that even aside from the sale and move of the Thrashers, the reputations of the ownership group has been negative since shortly after their arrival, when fighting and litigation began with then-partner Steve Belkin after the Joe Johnson trade.
To what extent this survey shows that is uncertain. But I’m guessing there’s at least some ripple effect when it comes to Hawks’ attendance.
If you want to check out the survey and vote, here’s the link again: AlexanderBabbage.com/Hawks/Hawks2011pulsestudy.htm.
And as always, you’re more than welcome to vent right here.
By Jeff Schultz