Hope and Season Tickets

by Ryan

Last Saturday CBC aired quite possibly the greatest triple-header of all time. First they showed Game Five of the Penguins/Capitals series. Next up was Game Five of Vancouver/Chicago. To finish it off, they aired an unedited version of The Shawshank Redemption. Not only is this a prefect recipe for insomnia, it’s a pretty solid metaphor for sports as a whole.

Countless writers will cite Shawshank, but here are the two quotes that do the job for me:

Red: Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.

Andy: Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.

Buffalo sports fans know both sides of the coin when it comes to hope, and they certainly don’t need me bringing it up once again. If there’s one thing I talk about here more than any other, it’s that sports can mean a lot more than we’d like them to at times. Around here, hope is the operative word.

So if that’s the case, what does a 94% renewal rate mean for Sabres season tickets?

The Buffalo Sabres today announced season ticket renewals for the 2009-10 year have reached 94%. In addition, once the renewal process is finalized later this month, the organization will make available between 500 and 700 additional season tickets this year for members of their Blue & Gold Club.

“Our season ticket holders are the lifeblood of this organization,” said Chief Operating Officer, Dan DiPofi. “Since the first day Tom Golisano purchased the team in 2003, we wanted to be sure our season ticket holders received the best price on their tickets. In return, our fans have been fiercely loyal to us and we take great pride in the partnership we have nurtured with them over the last several years.”

If you ask me, given the last two years of hockey and the rise in prices, 94% is an absurd amount of devotion to a team that hasn’t produced results. I think that kind of number says a lot of things, starting with just how much faith we have that this team can turn around.

Let’s face it, all the venom the fan base had towards Lindy Ruff and Darcy Regier is all but dead at this point. The “evaluation process” done by the front office took all of twelve seconds, and since both were given the thumbs up for next season the renewal rate has risen another 14%. The powers that be have been given a second thirteenth chance, and the hope is that progress will be made after two seasons of… nothing.

Now I’m not trying to tell people what to do with their season tickets. I’m in no position to criticize anyone because I’m probably going to buy my 10-15 tickets next year as well. There are many more reasons to buy season tickets than the product on the ice, and for some season tickets are a profitable investment.

Still, it’s tough to question what’s happening with our teams with figures like that. It opens up a can of worms to mention this, but what motivation is there to make significant changes when you only lose 6% of your season ticket base after going absolutely nowhere? What is the risk/reward of changing a coach or a general manager when you literally have nothing to lose by standing pat?

Just what does a figure like that say other than extreme, undying hope? We all know that if tickets aren’t bought, the team moves. That’s the catch-22 we’re stuck with in this day and age. However, isn’t it logical that a team performing poorly sees a significant decrease in demand for tickets?

Are we being driven crazy by hope, or is this just another sign of devotion from fans dying to see a winner?


  1. Sabresfan88

    This has nothing to do with the post whatsoever, but did anyone notice that they changed the dialogue in the Quiznos commercial?

  2. Keller

    ‘Hope is not a strategy’ (every sales class you ever take)

    Godd for Buffalo for spinning their 300%+ plus increase in season tickets bailers in a positive way. I wonder how it compared to Minnesota or Ottawa.

  3. Last year they released 500 more season tickets to the Blue & Gold club and I only moved up 150 slots on the waiting list (which is several thousand people long). From that point of view, people bailing out is good.

    As a consolation the team allowed me to join the ranks of mini pack holders and use my deposit towards the tickets, so I’m happy with that.