Every time we see those empty seats in the lower bowl of American Airlines Center, the majority of Stars fans all say the same thing: "I am so tired of seeing those corporate seats left empty by businesses who really don't care."
Apparently, the Dallas Stars are tired of it as well. More after the jump.
According to the Dallas Business Journal, the Stars are cutting lower deck ticket prices to the point where the average ticket price will be at it's lowest since the 1998-1999 season. The article states that the reason for the cuts is simple, that businesses are feeling the financial pinch of the recession and are not spending as much on season tickets as they once had. To be able to sell these tickets to the regular family, they needed to cut the prices to make them affordable.
The change affects nearly 70% of seats in the lower deck, as all full season ticket plans will be priced under $99 next season. This lowers the average price of season tickets to $47.21, down from $54.30 this season.
The Stars have gradually been reducing ticket prices the past few seasons, in an effort to boost sales and get back to the high levels of attendance the Stars were known for back in the 1990's.
"These prices are the lowest they’ve seen since 1998-1999 before we started going to the Stanley Cup,"[team President Jeff] Cogen said. "I told our staff we’re going back to our roots, creating family-friendly pricing and selling the second generation of Dallas Stars fans on hockey."
And there’s a reason ticket pricing on the upper bowl and now the lower bowl is reflecting a return to a policy of wooing more families.
"Research is telling us we are much less corporate and much more family," Cogen said when describing the Stars’ current fan base at home games.
A couple of things on this.
First, it's good to see the Stars acknowledging that the need to get away from the corporate ticket buyers that flooded the AAC when it first opened. Every die-hard Stars fan hates to see a large amount of empty seats in the lower sections, especially when they stand out so much on television. The AAC may be mostly full and rocking, but to the television viewers it's a near ghost town.
The other issue with these 'corporate fans' is that the simple fact that for the most part, they aren't really fans at all. They're there for the social aspect of attending a game at the AAC, they show up late, and they rarely get as much into the game as the rest of the arena. And it looks like crap for Stars fans in general and for everyone watching the game on television. This isn't to say that every fan on the lower level is like this, but it's been obvious over the years that this section of the 'fans' has really played into some of the negative connotation surrounding home Stars games over the past few years.
According to Jeff Cogen, the team is looking to become much more family oriented and that can only improve the overall atmosphere of the game. There's doubt that the higher season prices were phasing out the diehard fans, families and even just the normal hockey and Stars fans. With more of those types of fans at the game, you have to think that the level of noise and atmosphere inside the AAC will ultimately improve.
The other thought I had was that the lowering of the prices is not only attributed to the financial difficulties of the local corporations and businesses. This is a natural progression of lowering attendance due to lowered actual production on the ice. The team was at an all-time high in 2008 after a trip to the conference finals, but since then the team has been in a bit of flux.
To be fair to the Stars, they were lowering prices before the team started it's 'rebuilding', and have steadily worked to make games more affordable for fans.
Yet just as we've talked about all season, a successful and exciting team will instantly put the fans in the seats. The team knows this, and they'll bank on the fans not only making home games more enjoyable but they'll also make the team play better. There's no doubt that a raucous home crowd feeds the team on the ice.
"If we fill the building, they’ll play better," Cogen said. "Then they win more, and that creates even more demand."
The Stars have started that process by lowering prices for season tickets, as well as employing their 'dynamic pricing' this season. They'll need to continue to build a successful team on the ice as well, but hopefully we're closer to building a better atmosphere at the AAC than we have been in the past.