Are you a Sabres Insider? If not, you may be missing out on the Great “We F#$ked Up” Jersey Giveaway!
That’s right, the Sabres are trying so hard to sell these tickets they are willing to give away a free autographed jersey. The easy answer for this is that they are just trying to be nice, and giving away free jerseys is mighty nice. However, I think we all know the Sabres have struggled with ticket sales this season for the first time since the lockout. People just don’t have the expendable income these days, and with the introduction of a new pricing level the Sabres may have out priced some games for the average fan.
The logic behind the platinum level does make sense, but back in August the economic climate was a bit different. Leafs games always sell out, and Montreal isn’t far behind Toronto in out of town support. Making these meetings premium match ups will maximize profit from out of town fans and keep the other games affordable for other fans. Not only that, but the two games in question come after a very slow home schedule in January. Fans will be dying for a home game to attend, right?
Well… not quite. The Sabres have seven home games in February, including a bronze game on the weekend (Carolina, 15th) and another bronze game against Ottawa (11th). A game against the best team in hockey (San Jose) is only a silver, and by comparison that Saturday night Rangers game on the 21st looks like a bargain. A Wednesday night Leafs game just isn’t all that appealing if you are looking at the other half dozen games on the schedule, and it’s not hard to talk myself out of a $98 ticket to see the Habs if I can see the Sharks for half as much.
Hindsight makes it easy to look down on the pricing, but we’ve talked about these games before. You’ve gone to the arena and seen the corners bare, and it’s no wonder there were over 2,000 seats left for each of these games. Giving away a free jersey is an interesting move that may attract a few more ticket sales, but it’s an obvious cry for help in selling tickets that many fans simply don’t want at that price.
This type of promotion is good for fans, but they also hurt the bottom line at year’s end. Think about how good your profit margin is when you have no need for advertising and promotions like this. We’ve already seen holiday packs, season ticket incentives, and now free jerseys this season. The Sabres are still selling lots of seats, but it’s obvious the demand for tickets has slowed this year. Pricing, performance, and the economy all play a role; and only so many of those factors can be controlled (and anticipated) by management.
It will be interesting to see how tickets for this game sell, as well as what the Sabres do with the rest of the platinum games this year. After those two the last game left is against the Leafs on March 27th, which may have playoff implications if things go right. Still, how things go this year will impact next season’s pricing, and if mid-week games continue to struggle the high end games may all go to the weekend. It’s an interesting thing to watch, especially when both games already have so many non-Sabres fans in the crowd. Will they stay home, too?
Either way, I know I’ll be watching at home. For those that are taking them up on the offer, go with Miller or Vanek. Free or not, you want something that’s going to last.