Saturday, February 10, 2018

Norfolk Admirals: Good Game, Poor Fan Service

Yesterday was spent traveling across the width of Virginia so that I could watch the Norfolk Admirals. It was a fun game and the rink is well set up for the crowd to watch. The people working were friendly and helpful, but the crowd was small. It was a shame.

Click photos to make larger:

Adironack Thunder stops a puck.
Get that puck.
The reason it's great to have a seat on the glass.

The game was a lot of fun. The Thunder took the early lead and the Admirals came back to tie a couple times. Then the Admirals caught fire and the third period was almost entirely theirs. Darik Angeli got a hat trick and, yes a few people threw their hats out onto the ice. No, I did not throw the hat I'd just bought.  All in all, it was a great game to watch and exactly the kind of thing that should be bringing in the fans.

They weren't there.

By the time everybody was seated it looked like about maybe 1,000 people and a whole bunch of empty seats. There was a screw-up with my seat. My ticket was for A1 in my section and the first seat that actually existed was A2.  As the couple who were there moved to the left both they and the usher joked about how it wasn't like the row was going to fill up anyway - the front row - on the glass. After the usher left, the couple explained how the Admirals used to be an AHL team - a really good AHL team - and locals aren't happy to have an ECHL substitute foisted upon them (not really the entire story they went from being a big deal ECHL team to the AHL and now they're back again).  They also weren't happy that the team had been abandoned by the Nashville Predators leaving them unaffiliated (the owners fired the president who negotiated the deal and it went away). The couple was right. Nobody else showed up and sat in our row. In fact, there were a lot of on the glass seats that were empty.

It was the worst attended game I've been to in a while and about a month back I drove to a Wheeling Nailers game in almost white out conditions, with inches of snow already on the ground, and temperatures near 0 fahrenheit.  And it's a shame. There is so much potential here.

Suggestions:

First, get people in. Heck, give away a few thousand tickets per game. Give all the kids at the local high schools two tickets each. Give out tickets to ships in harbor or units at JEB Little Creek - Fort Story. Better yet, give tickets out to locals who work the shipyards and will be around to buy some in the future. Make your money up on the backside thru concessions and/or souvenirs.

Second, lower prices. YOUR PRICES ARE HIGHER THAN NHL PRICES and you are an unaffiliated ECHL (hockey AA) team. A beer and sausage was $15+. There might have been a reason that nobody was buying concessions other than my stupid self. Worse, your prices for souvenirs were high to ridiculous. I can buy a puck from the Wheeling Nailers for $5 (and they sell yours for that price too), the Cincinnati Cyclones for $6, and the Toledo Walleye for $6.53. Yours? $7.  As best I can tell a puck costs less than $2 and let's assume the sticker is an additional $1. There's no reason for your price point as an ECHL team. Even worse than that, I really, really like your jerseys, but that price point is beyond ridiculous. Let's compare your prices to NHL prices:







Notice which jersey costs the most? Sure, your jersey is cool, but it's not better-than-the-NHL cool.  And just so you can't blame it on economy of scale, here are your ECHL competitors' jerseys:



Your price point is not only unrealistic, it is actively harmful to your brand. There were lots of people wearing jerseys in attendance, but I only saw three wearing your jersey. When you bring the price down to a reasonable level ($120) email me and I will snap one up. Until then, good luck with your excess inventory.

Third, raise the level of enthusiasm. Just playing music loudly and doing the normal kiss-cam, dance-cam stuff really doesn't cut it anymore. Have people go into the crowd more and work it with prizes. Your announcer needs to hype things up more and you need to make energy between periods. That may have been the most lackadaisical chuck-a-puck I've ever seen. I know this is harder to do when the crowd is smaller and really, you did most of the things a little. You just need to up the pace and frequency. And it would help if you had bigger crowds to feed the enthusiasm (see First above).

You have so much potential here. Please turn it around.

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