Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Tickets! Tickets! Who's sellin' extras?!

Making front page news in today's Buffalo News confirms what has long been expected - Sabres playoff tickets are sold out and there will be NO single ticket sale to the general public for rounds one and two.

Some of the more salient points of the article:

*90% of this year's season ticket holders have renewed their seats for next season.

*98.5% of season ticket holders have exercised their option to purchase playoff tickets.

*The team might drop the mini pack product next year in favor of full season tickets. The cap will be set at 14,800 tickets. Current mini pack holders would have the option to upgrade to full season tickets, then current season ticket holders could buy additional season tickets. After that, the team will turn to their waiting list, reportedly containing 2000 names.

*Only 10% of season ticket holders requesting additional playoff tickets were successful in getting tickets.

I have mixed thoughts about all of this.

First of all, I am thrilled that the Sabres have developed this demand for their product. Nothing is better than sellouts and packed houses to showcase the health of a franchise. We have been season ticket holders since the early 90s - first in sec 14 in the Upper Blues at the Aud, and now in sec 113 at HSBC Arena. We have numerous shareholders in our group, and have fully taken advantage of the perks and discounts and superior customer attention that the Sabres have given to their season ticket holders.

Something is fishy though, regarding filling requests for playoff additionals on a "first come first served basis". Curiously, my brother Taras got his "sorry" letter from the Sabres today, saying he would not be able to purchase additionals. The day the 2007-08 renewal and playoff order form hit the mailbox, we filled out all the paperwork and HAND DELIVERED all the forms to HSBC Arena later that afternoon. I personally handed our renewals over to Andrea Keane at account services.

I find it hard to believe that orders for 1500 additional playoff tickets were accepted and time stamped before my order hit their desk.

That being said, I am in no way mad at the Sabres about being shut out for additionals. I answer to our shareholders, and we will just have to make do with fewer tickets. Furthermore, while as a season ticket holder it was nice having the perk of first dibs on additionals for so long, I believe it is a policy that should now be eliminated.

Totally shutting out the single ticket buyer for a chance to buy playoff tickets is patently unfair. Since only 10% of additionals orders could be filled, then there should now be NO ADDITIONALS. The season ticket holder already gets a HUGE bargain pricewise (our tickets in 113 run $29 and $40 for the first two rounds - face is $150)

My idea - Put those 1500 tickets onsale to the public - but not via phone or the internet or satellite locations. Have a public sale only at HSBC Arena, limit to 2-4 per customer, pass out wristbands, let the REAL Sabres fans cue up to buy seats, shutting out the opportunists and scalpers. There is something cool and special about getting everyone together at one location to have a chance to buy tickets... almost a community party. At Duke University, they set up a neighborhood called "Krzyzewskiville" outside Cameron Indoor Stadium, and students actually pitch tents there waiting for basketball tickets to go onsale.

I am also sympathetic, because in our USRT travels we have come up against the same dilemma - wanting a chance to get into a building and finding there were NO single ticket sales -- Green Bay Packers, Ohio State Buckeyes, New York Giants to name a few. We had to get in via back door channels each time.

For this Sabres front office, these are heady times and they are sailing in uncharted territories... hopefully their policies will be tweaked and adjusted to reflect public opinion and demand as they move forward. And as a long time season ticket holder of the Sabres, I tip my hat to them. They have always treated me as a cherished and valued customer, and it is a relationship which I value highly.

More on this story from Mark at Bfloblog.

1 comment:

Joe M said...

The reason so few season ticket holders got extras was because minipak holders got first crack at the extras. After that I'm sure there weren't many left.