Earlier this season, I've stated that I wanted to see something like a supporters group at New Jersey Devils games. Then, the Devils were dropping games like pounds on the Biggest Loser and going to games tended to be dreadful at times. A supporters group would at least improve the game's atmosphere, enhance the experience going to a game, and at least allow fans to think that while the game sucked, the passion hasn't wilted. I wanted the organization to encourage such a group
That was October. It's now March and I'm still blown away about what has happened with what I wanted. Not only that it actually happened for a game, a result of fan-organization cooperation. But also that it's happened for multiple games and for a few more to come. The Devils just let me know about two more games they have set seats aside for a supporters group. What those two games are convinces me that the organization appreciates and wants to embrace the idea of a supporters group at games. I feel it's time to review what has happened with the group so far.
Due to the work of some enterprising fans - Joe and Adam - working with the Devils organization, a group of supporters got their first chance on December 16, 2010 against Nashville. While I was a good distance away from section 209, they could be heard and there was strong interest in the group. So there was a second game, this time set up in section 107 for a Sunday game against Tampa Bay. I discussed my time in what was then the latest episode of Talking Red. Even more tickets were sold, spilling over into 106, though not everyone was jumping up and down and yelling. Nevertheless, this was a success and the organization got a third game for the group for a Friday night game against Florida on February 4 in section 118.
The thunder was brought. Here's video evidence from that third game: Example 1; Example 2; Example 3; Example 4. I was in that group that evening and I had a blast (and surprisingly didn't lose my voice).
Clearly, the Devils really like the idea of the supporters group and there are definitely people interested in standing and yelling for 60 minutes for a $20 ticket price. On February 11, the Devils organization sent out a gameday invite for supporters for the San Jose game where tickets had to be called in. All of them sold out in hours. Sure, cheap tickets will move quickly, but it was intended for those fans who want to bring an atmosphere of their own and one was brought to the Rock. In my eyes, I see that the idea of a supporters group is becoming less of a novelty and more of something the organization wants - with participants more than willing to oblige.
Today, the Devils organization took another step in embracing the idea of a supporters group by offering two more games. Tickets will still be at the same group rate $20. The games are what's most intriguing. The first is on Saturday, March 12 against a division rival - the New York Islanders in section 117. The game could have sold quite well on it's own as it's Saturday night and against a division rival (a.k.a. The Battle to Avoid Fifth in the Atlantic). Yet, the Devils want a loud fan presence to rock the Rock. The second game is even bigger. It's for Friday, March 18 against the Capitals - Retro Jersey night - in section 121. I'm sure the Devils are expecting a big crowd for the second (name opponent, Friday night, 80s jerseys). Yet, the Devils organization is willing to set aside discounted seats for those two games to get people to wear red, to be loud and proud of New Jersey, to literally stand up and make some noise.
Needless to say, I'm incredibly happy to see this happen. I want to thank the supporters group for not coming up lame and just taking advantage of cheap seats, as well as keeping the problems to a minimum. They showed up when the Devils were eating it in the standings and they showed up when the Devils are hot. I can personally attest to their passion, having been with the group for two games this season. I also want to thank to the Devils organization for cooperating with some fans who want to get crazy without being told to by a P.A. announcer and understanding. I've gotten a sense that the sales side of the team has always been somewhat hesitant when it comes to trying out new things; but they really took a chance here - and got rewarded. I'm confident these two games will go well again, and then maybe there will be another step taken.
Maybe the idea of a group takes off further after a few more games and there will be a section set aside at the Rock for every home game in the future? Something to think about, supporters and sales people.
By the way: If you want to buy tickets, here's the link. The special code is "devils". And if you are going to buy tickets, here's a message you should heed - taken from this announcement from the group's Facebook page from February 11 (the last game):
IF YOU TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS OFFER YOU MUST BE WILLING TO STAND, BE LOUD, CHANT, AND WEAR RED!
If standing and yelling for 60 minutes isn't your thing, then don't get these tickets. If being part of the crowd in the linked videos doesn't interest you, then don't get these tickets. If you want to wear Devils red and be part of the energy instead of taking it in, then go get your tickets now.