While the majority of writing and discussion on the site over this summer has been about the team and it's performance, let's take some time to consider the business side of the Devils for a bit. After all, what goes on in terms of sales and finances will affect what happens on the hockey side of the team. Plus, I learned a few things and I think it's interesting enough that it's worth sharing after the jump.
First, there are still no single game ticket prices released yet from the New Jersey Devils. Their website says they won't go on sale until September, which is what they have been doing, though pricing has been released earlier than that. The Devils are still pushing full season ticket sales, along with increased service for current season ticket holders. I can confirm the latter if only because I, a full season ticket holder, now have a "Fan Experience" team. I'm not sure what I can ask them beyond what they can do unless I have a problem, and that in of itself is evidence of service. Of course, I'll avoid asking them silly things like trying to get team to play better after a bad game (which are inevitable) or something like that.
Anyway, given that we're in late July and the situation hasn't changed much from, say, May, it's clear that this is an intentional decision. I think I get why the team may be doing this. It does more than just build up the "base" fans, but it also gives more revenue per person in the long run to the Devils. Plus, touting an increase of season tickets can have some momentum in marketing this team. As preseason gets closer and sales peak, the Devils will surely have to release smaller plans like half-season and others, and/or single game pricing. I'll admit I'm hung up about it since it is a departure of what was done in the past; but again, I think I get the logic behind it. It sucks if you're looking to plan out a trip for a game in advance, but the sales team is trying a new approach and they feel it's working well enough so far. We'll see single game pricing when we see it.
Incidentally, I've learned a little more about the supporter's section for the upcoming season. As mentioned in the comments in the post I did on the seating chart back in May and as highlighted on the team's website as Section 122, there will be a supporter's section for most of the section itself. I guess the Devils are taking small steps with the idea of a supporter's section by not using the entire section. However, they should be still commended that they are actually taking a risk to have such a section; the events with supporters from last season went well enough that the Devils are going further. As far as I know, no other NHL team has such a section that the team recognizes and supports. From what I've learned, those looking to purchase seats in that section - again, season tickets for now - have been informed of what to expect from sitting in that section. That's a sensible move by sales since a constant annoyance at other supporters sections in other sports are people in the section who are there just for a cheap seat and not knowing that it comes with a responsibility and/or that other fans around them will be standing and yelling all night long.
Additionally, I understand that the Devils and whoever will lead the group itself will be in communication to make sure both sides are on the same page - which is sensible and important. While the team's website mentions a big banner on the wall behind them; the team will be giving a special gift for those season ticket holders in the supporter's section. As I understand it, it's a scarf. I don't know what it looks like except that it'll be in Devils colors. But it's a good move by the organization all the same - it's a gift for being part of this continued experiment in fan culture. Before anyone else complains about not getting a scarf (and I'm sure someone will when this gets officially announced), please be aware that those in the section will be doing more than just watching the game - they'll be expected to stand up and bringing loads of noise.
Come to think of it, the section or the group that will fill it doesn't have a name yet. While the Devils will provide a banner behind them, it would do well if the group comes up one before the season (or preseason) starts. I got to think there will be some kind of meeting if only to pass along what it will be. If you're one of them, think carefully about it as people won't forget it.
While I am not a part of their group, I do sincerely hope the supporter's section is filled and meets expectations in 2011-12 and hopefully it could lead to expansion in further seasons. I know there are those capable and passionate out there, if only because the first experiments took place during last season of all seasons.
Lastly, here's a quote from the team's season tickets page on the official website as of this writing. The emphasis here is mine:
More than 1,600 NEW FANS have joined the Devils Army as Season Ticket Holders for the 2011-12 season! With a new head coach, two new enforcers, and a closer connection to the team, fans are jumping on board to be a part of something special!
Well, there's something to be said for trying to hustle, but I have to ask: Will the acquisitions of Eric Boulton and Cam Janssen really get someone to become a season ticket holder? If so, why? I can totally understand including, say, the re-signing of a certain American who plays left wing before August 3 to try and hawk more season tickets. It may even be effective; I can see his re-acquisition sweetening the pot enough for people to drop that kind of money. But Boulton and Janssen? I know some hockey fans like
goons enforcers, but is it enough to commit for 41 games? If it works, OK, but I'm still raising an eyebrow here.
Do you like what the Devils are doing with their ticket sales? What do you expect to come out of the supporter's section? Do you think a scarf is a good idea? If any of you are season ticket holders like me, do you have an idea what a "Fan Experience" team can do for you? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about how the Devils are doing on these fronts in the comments. Thanks for reading.