Not just my money–but your money too. The money of everyone and anyone who goes to a game, watches a game on TV, wears a jersey or even buys a pack of hockey cards.
The more I think of that, the more I am appalled.
Thus, both the NHL and the NHLPA should make it up to us, the fans. Without us, do you think Alex Ovechkin would make $8 million per year? He’d make far less in a sport like lacrosse or Arena League football, where the fan base and revenue streams are both lower.
True, some fans will remain bitter and never watch the NHL again, while others will eventually come around. But some fans will go away for a while. To begin the healing process, the NHL and the NHLPA need to give back to fans in the following three ways:
1. Reduce ticket prices for season ticket holders during this “half season”
Usually, season ticket holders pay for their tickets–or at least put a deposit down–over the summer. I am not sure what teams, if any, refunded money to ticketholders during the lockout, but they probably strung fans along, hanging onto their money and earning interest on it while fans got nothing in return. Even though it cuts into their revenue, teams should discount the price of tickets for the season ticket holders who patiently waited. Season ticket holders are the main stream of revenue for a hockey team, so teams would be wise to endear themselves to these deep-pocketed fans.
2. Make NHL Center Ice free during this “half season”
Over the past 4 seasons, I’ve grown to love the Center Ice package, where I get every NHL game that is broadcast (not counting local Blackhawks’ games). It has made me more of an overall fan of the NHL. But the price has slowly crept up, from roughly $150 in 2008 to just over $170 in 2011. No doubt, the NHL will pro-rate that cost for the 2012-13 “half season”–but why not make it free for us repeat subscribers? At this point, I could easily live life “just” watching Blackhawks games on my local channels, and not bury myself in front of the TV every single night to watch hockey. The NHL should “give” me what I’ve allegedly been missing this year, in hopes that I plunk down my $170 next year.
3. Give a hockey stick and jersey to every kid under 10
In order for the NHL to increase its revenue, it has to increase its fan base. Why not “grow” some new fans by giving a jersey and hockey stick to every kid they can? Little kids don’t care about the lockout, and putting a stick in their hands or a jersey on their back could make them a fan for life. The NHL might not win back some of its old fans, so they should try to start developing some new ones. Both the NHL and the NHLPA should shoulder the cost on this one, as it would be an expensive endeavor with no short-term benefit. But who knows–some of these kids might be old enough to buy tickets by the time the next lockout rolls around.
All three ways of giving back to the fans is a money-losing proposition for the league and its players. Reducing ticket prices this season for season ticket holders and giving Center Ice away for free this season to repeat subscribers would just add to the financial loss from the lockout. And giving a hockey stick and/or jersey to the future generation would cut into that already-reduced revenue for 2012-13.
But at the same time, it would elevate fans to the status of partner. The NHL and the NHLPA cannot thrive without us. Both entities know it. Now it is time for them to show it.