OHL Game Outdraws Toronto Marlies

I know, I am fixated on this right now. The Bellville vs. Brampton game last night outdrew the Marlie game…..The Marlies announced a crowd of over 2200, the OHL game???? 3221!


I have read the excellent comments on both of my earlier rants on this. here and here

Here are my comments in general:

1. RE: It’s not an event. Then shame on the Marlies for not making it an event. 3 different people told me that the crowd last night was between 750 and 800. THAT IS UNACCEPTABLE. If they can’t get more then 800 people out to a game they are doing something very, very wrong. Will it be like the skydome of old?? NO, of course not. Find your niche audience and cater the hell to it. 800 people is a joke. They should be totally embarrassed.

2. Icing a team of prospects- It’s irrelevant. This isn’t about the steak, it’s about the steak! It’s about filling the void to those who can’t or won’t pay to see the Leafs. The Rock and other type of alternatives do better then this i think. Don’t focus on the players or the product. Hell they are in the playoffs. Get a used car company to donate a car and raffle it off during an intermission, get someone to dress up as barney….whatever….bring in the Dallas cowboy cheerleaders…something…anything

3. Free Seat and Price- Yes $30 is too high for a playoff game. Tickets in advance of last night were advertised at $9. the whole building should be $9. My point on the free seat was to do something to encourage people to come and to bring others. If you give one seat away you will accomplish both.

4. Marketing and atmosphere on Sunday- I totally agree. Why anyone would text in anything at an event to win a “marlie prize pack” is beyong me. They didn’t even say what the prize pack was!!! The game was good, and the atmosphere was lousy. They aren’t focused on the right things. You shouldn’t want to leave your seats. Hell, they have no vendors coming to the aisles so you have to get up to get pre-bagged popcorn!

5. Roscoe the Season ticket holder: You don’t sound like an apologist- you are the paying customer! I can only tell you that I saw people leaving as they approached the doors when they saw the lines. When the building is 2/3 empty that is brutal. The guy we were with spoke to a Marlie guy on the phone, he was told that we were getting a deal at $30. He didn’t mention we could have sat anywhere for half of that…. With respect to concessions, do the marlies not control the concessions? If they don’t they should threaten to vacate if this isn’t addressed. Richard Peddie claims he goes to other areans specifically for this reason, to see what others are doing. I can tell you that the arena in Barrie is better operated. Kids play hockey all week long and at all hours. Give them the chance to play on an arena like the Ricoh and you will be surprised at the turnout. Get the beer leagues in too. The promos, while dumb, are crowd pleasers and they work. I mentioned the pizza pizza deal at the raptors game. The team was getting clobbered but when they hit 100 points the place went NUTS….The fact they include round one of the playoffs shows they are only mostly out to lunch. The fact that they still don’t draw flies shows you they are still out to lunch.

So come on folks, don’t you agree that we would support the team if it were more fun to do so??? I would take my kids a hell of a lot more often if it were. I know others would too. Not a knock on the OHL, but the Marlies have to outdraw them, have to!

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April 22, 2009 2:39 pm

Concessions are run by Centerplate and not MLSE. I think much of the in-arena confusion comes from the fact that the Ricoh Coliseum is intertwined with multiple unions and stakeholders thanks to the fact that the place was originally built by the City of Toronto and operated by the Direct Energy Centre in 2004. Centerplate is a hold-over from those “four different unions operating the building and adding layers of costs to everything” days. The cost of the place is the reason so few non-Marlies events are held at the ricoh.

The trouble is that they can’t vacate the Ricoh and still stay close to downtown. The ACC is booked during the Leafs and Raptors seasons and likely cannot squeeze in 40 Marlies dates. Also, the ACC has lots of built in costs with labour and operations, so trying to break even on a Marlies game is impossible. But where else can the Marlies go to play without going out to the Hershey Centre? It is too bad they let Maple Leaf Gardens go – but that is a whole separate issue.

I think your friend was told he was getting a deal at $30 is because he was getting a deal. $30 is below face value of the platinum tickets. Moreover, the sales rep can’t say you can sit anywhere because he is selling assigned tickets and encouraging people to move around undermines the value of other tickets. Also, i think sales rep’s commissions are tied to the dollar amount of sales and not the number of tickets; accordingly, it would be in his or her interest to try and upsell you to expensive tickets rather than giving you the cheapies in the mcdonald’s zone. (Much of that is speculation based on my experience with them.)

Of course, I wonder if the audience who attends marlies games is the same group of folks who will come out regardless of the price of tickets. What i mean is that any drop in price isn’t going to result in more fans coming out, but rather will be a drop in revenue. The result is that they would rather keep the prices level with the regular season so as not to upset season ticket holders who paid RS prices. Mind you, i think there are under 400 season ticket holders, so what’s the harm?

I feel like the team is starting to get a focus and has the support of MLSE behind it. Between the Leafs, Raptors, and TFC, there should be enough good practices to improve the Marlies experience. The mid-season rebranding was a good start. The recognition that there are multiple customer segments to serve is the next step.

The text message promotion was explained as an autographed jersey, four tickets to the next game and a prize pack – which is whatever swag is around. I thought it was pretty good idea because it captures the phone number of those people who came out to the game. Everyone around me whipped out their cell phones to text when the message went up. Now the Marlies have the phone numbers of the people at the game so they can send them coupons and reminders of upcoming Marlies games or whatever. Even if they never announced a winner and I only knew the contest was over when a woman in my section came back to her seat with the collection of prizes, i thought it was a good idea.

Still though, the idea of improving the marlies product has been discussed before here by actual season ticket holders:

Again, the playoffs are a different beast than the regular season. The regular season has the benefit of lead time – time for group sales, promotion ordering, etc. The playoffs rely largely on walk-up crowds.

Lots of good ideas here, TSM. Keep ’em coming.

The Captain
April 22, 2009 3:42 pm

$30 is still a lot of money, hell after travel ++ it ends up costing $60. Geez for $60 I can take a chick out and maybe get lucky!

April 22, 2009 8:10 pm

Marlies games are waaaaaaaay overpriced in this city. The tickets should be no more than 10 bucks. It should be an affordable way to see hockey in this city. In these economic times or even better ones paying that kind of money for minor league sports is crazy. The AHL should price its tickets like minor league baseball and sell the experience, not the game- at least not in this city because it does not work.

The Meatriarchy
April 23, 2009 7:16 am

I would totally go to a Marlies game but it takes about 45 minutes for me to get downtown in good traffic. If I am gonna go out for a night it had better be to a leafs game.

If the Marlies were in the West End say Milton/Oakville/Miss they might do better but I think a large part of the problem is there is no buzz.

The sports media doesn’t cover the team whatsoever (except for the obligatory Justin Pogge stories), the TV broadcasts are very poor quality and the games are at odd times.

At the same time it is hard to believe that in the GTA where there are 5 million people that the team can’t draw 5,000.

April 23, 2009 12:00 pm

It all comes down to the ticket price. A $10 Marlies seat is $17.50 with service charges or $20.50 on game day.

If I want hockey, we can go to the Generals or the Storm for about $55 with freebies (programs for the generals, popcorn and pop at the Guelph game). Parking is cheaper there too.

The Marlies operating costs might be too high to drop ticket prices, but there’s too many entertainment alternatives out there for me to spend that much on AHL hockey.

April 23, 2009 1:05 pm

the service charges that ticketmaster charges events at the ricoh coliseum are ridiculous. they help make an overpriced product officially silly.

(of course, if you are a fan of the marlies facebook page, you can get $15 tickets for any seat in the building tonight. well, $23 after TM fees.)

this post gave me some ideas for what to do when the market value of a ticket falls below the face value:

yep, i’ll be there tonight. of course, i purchased through the Marlies ticket line and didn’t pay any of the TM service charges.

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