The Nashville Predators are unusual in the National Hockey League in that the terms of the team's lease with Metro require it to submit — and thus make public — their game-by-game ticket sales, comped ticket and ticket revenue numbers.
The final tally for the 2013-14 is in and, despite a disappointing on-ice year, those figures rebounded from the lockout-shortened season and moved back toward the heady days of the halcyon seasons in 2010-11 and 2011-12.
The Predators averaged 15,558 tickets sold for the 41 regular-season home games at Bridgestone Arena (two pre-season games were not included in these calculations) and the team gave away another 1,031 tickets per game. Only twice did the team sell fewer than 14,000 tickets and 12 times the team cracked 16,000 sold tickets.
For the last full NHL season — 2011-12, when the Predators made it to the second round of the playoffs and were touted as a potential Stanley Cup contender — the team averaged 16,103 sold tickets and 646 comped per game. In 2010-11 — the year of the team's first playoff series win — the team average 15,525 paid and 650 comp. Dirk Hoag has the figures dating back to 2008-09 here and here.
The number of giveaway tickets continues to be higher than in pre-lockout years, though Predators officials point out the organization has numerous obligations related to free tickets — commitments to charities, schools, sponsors and the like — and many of those went unfulfilled with the lockout-shortened schedule and thus had to be given away this season, particularly early in the year. An examination of the figures bears that out, as the three most comped games — against Edmonton on Thanksgiving (2,409 comped), Montreal on December 21 (2,125) and San Jose December 14 (2,064) — were before Christmas and only twice after the Olympic break did the team give away more than 1,000 tickets.
Revenue-wise, the Predators generated $29.3 million at the box office (after discounting taxes and the seat-user fee), an average of $715,167 per game. The team cracked $1 million on two occasions, both against Chicago (once in November and again in the season's final game).
Per ticket sold, the post-tax and fee revenue averaged $45.97. According to Hoag, that's down from $48.63 last season, but is ahead of previous years ($40.42 in 11-12, $37.73 in 10-11, $37.70 in 09-10 and $42.53 in 08-09).
That $29.3 million ticket revenue covers roughly half of the Predators' salary obligations. According to CapGeek, the Predators salaries totalled $58.74 million at the end of the season.
Predators president Sean Henry says season-ticket renewals are pacing with last spring and summer and the team expects to hit its usual "93 to 94 percent" mark.
This morning, Jay Grossman, agent for Predators' goaltender Pekka Rinne, tweeted this morning:
#Preds G Pekka Rinne to see Drs. this AM, more clarity on his situation later today
Rinne did not practice yesterday — though, to be fair, very few players did, though his back-up Carter Hutton was put through a lengthy series of drills by goaltending coach Mitch Korn — and reporters requesting interviews were told he had "already come and gone."
This all follows a TV report out of Milwaukee that Magnus Hellberg had been recalled to Nashville — a report with some veracity, as The Tennessean's Joshua Cooper noted, because the segment included the Admirals coach actually telling Hellberg when his plane would depart.
Rinne had arthroscopic hip surgery in the offseason. He played well in Tuesday's 2-0 loss at Minnesota and did not appear to be injured.
Predators center Mike Fisher has been out for three games with what the team has, predictably, been calling a "lower-body injury" and have listed him as day-to-day. As per usual, they've not been more forthcoming than that.
Fortunately, Fisher is married to Carrie Underwood, of course. Underwood is doing a round of press ahead of her hosting gig at the CMA Awards and she's not confined by the strictures of a pro sports PR operation.
From the AP:
The conversation then turned to hockey and her husband Mike Fisher's team, the Nashville Predators.
"They got off to a little bit of rocky start, but definitely getting some momentum. I feel like my husband right now. I know what he feels like now. I feel there's some really great, new young talent," Underwood said.
And what about the team's star center?
"My hubby, he's been out for the past couple of games with a foot fracture thing. But he'll be back on the ice, ASAP. I hope he does, because that's the only way I get to see him, other than iChat."
The Predators' season-opener tonight in St. Louis has already been touched by circumstances beyond their control — the Cardinals' playoff game forced a later puck-drop than scheduled, with the original 7 PM start time at the Scottrade Center delayed until 7:30 (although, there's chatter it may not start until 7:45 or so).
And the Preds may get a little benefit from the government shutdown, too.
Late in training camp, the Blues signed 34-year-old, Saskatchewan-born center Brenden Morrow. Problem is, Morrow doesn't have a work visa, even though he's been trying since early summer to get his paperwork in order. His wife is an American citizen, so he is eligible for a green card, but that process was delayed for whatever reason, so he went ahead and applied for a work permit.
And, as yet, he doesn't have it:
"I don't know if (the visa holdup) has anything to do with the process of (the green card application), but my wife is a (U.S.) citizen and I started the green card application process through her at the end of May, early June, so it's been almost three-four months," Morrow said. "So I don't know if that's slowing or delaying things, or what's going on ..."
Morrow said that if need be, he'd put off the green card process and simply request the work visa for now, so that he can play Thursday, but that appears to be out of his control.
The ongoing government shutdown has slowed the visa application for some people, though Morrow said he's been told that's not the case for him, but it's easy to assume that a logjam in one department is leading to consequences in others and let's hope against hope that getting a hockey player permission to work doesn't qualify as an essential function of government.
Morrow did not participate in morning skate this morning, but Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said there's still a chance his new center could take the ice.
Five things from the weekend to read today:
From The National Journal: "The Politics of Sports Fans"
Cool infographic that shows the likelihood of turnout and the political leanings of various groups of sports fans. The most reliable Democrats are WNBA fans, while the highest-turnout Democratic voters are men's tennis fans. For Republicans, PGA fans are the most reliable and, by a tick, have the second highest turnout, just below LPGA fans. One surprise: pro wrestling is pretty strongly Democratic, a bit of a surprise for sport so tied to the ruby-red South. Need a dead-in-the-middle voter? Check out motocross or grand-am road racing.
From Music City Miracles: "On Jake Locker, Faith, and Hope"
For an outsider, explaining why Titans fans are pulling so hard for Jake Locker may be hard. Sure, he's the starting quarterback and he's played well in the early going, but he's received his fair share of criticism (and some unfair). But sports isn't always just calculus. There are human feelings too:
But that's what faith is, a belief without proof. A trust in someone or something that goes beyond every scrap of evidence you can find to "prove" that belief. I, like many others, have that faith in Jake Locker.
There's a profound sadness that hovers over this injury that will leave many not eating breakfast on Monday morning, moping through their day as if the score were reversed in Sunday's win.
Jake Locker has endeared himself to so many fans because of who he is first, and how he plays second. He's the small town kid that plays his heart out. In today's age of superstar athletes, a guy that doesn't even have a twitter account is not only an anomaly, but a full on blast of fresh air. This is the same person that returned to college for a final year passing on tens of millions of dollars for a chance at a bowl game with his team. No press conference, no big announcement. He just strolled in to his coaches office with his hunting dog one early spring morning and let him know.
I wrote before the season started, with my fan card held high, that I needed a hero. That the fans of this franchise haven't had someone to revere both on and off the field in a long time, and how Jake could be that beacon of hope if his play on the field could match his character off the field.
From The Telegraph: "America's Cup: how the yachts go faster than the wind"
The Telegraph's science writer explaings the wherefores of big-time yacht racing:
At first glance this appears to defy logic – how can a yacht travel faster than the wind that is propelling it? However, the boats in the America's Cup use rigid wing sails rather than traditional cloth and mast mail sails.
These fixed wings use the same principals of lift force that enables aircraft to fly to drive the boat forward.
The speed produced also lifts the catamarans out of the water. When combined with reduced drag through the water, the catamarans essentially fly above the surface of the water.
The AC72 catamarans have rigid sails that are the same size as the wing from a Jumbo Jet Boeing 747 passenger airliner.
Measuring 2,800 square feet, these enormous sails catch huge amounts of wind. They are also shaped just like an aircraft wing, with a wide, rigid front edge and a thin trailing edge.
In the same way as an aircraft wing, the sails take advantage of the Bernoulli principle, which a difference in pressure on either side of the sail will create lift, or in this case forward motion through the water.
On these boats the wing sail is built in two separate elements, producing an asymmetric wing where the curved surface over which the air flows can be altered by changing the angle between these elements.
George Scoville takes an early look at where Preds tickets are headed on the secondary market and susses thus:
- The Predators missed the playoffs last year for the first time since 2009, in a lockout-shortened season that saw comped tickets surge over previous years. The latter point is a reflection of decreased demand for Predators tickets, and the former could be a cause for future decreased demand. So to see an increase in list prices is noteworthy.
- Now that we have the downer stuff out of the way, ticket sellers are counting on probably a few factors that would justify an increase in price. Those factors could (and probably) include the fact that Opening Night is approaching, and a drought of hockey coming to an end might make fans more excited to buy; the off-season free agent acquisitions of Matt Cullen, Viktor Stalberg, Matt Hendricks, and Eric Nystrom; the drafting of Real American Hero™ Seth Jones; the hiring of American hockey legend Phil Housley to the coaching staff; or possibly a nominal across-the-board increase in ticket prices by the Predators.
- Finally, and I'm reaching a little here, this could be a sign that faith in Nashville as a legitimate hockey market is now officially a thing, that after a wash of a season and no playoffs, sellers are confident that buyers not only exist, but will pay more per ticket than they did last year. That notion is supported by the fact that despite the high number of comp tickets given away by the Predators last season, the average price per ticket sold soared by roughly 20%.
From The Examiner: "Simon Moser's contract with Nashville contains an out clause"
Jim Diamond explains why new Preds' signee, Swiss forward Simon Moser, is really just on an extended tryout:
Sunday night, Renaud Lavoie tweeted that it was a one-year, two-way deal worth $550,000 at the NHL level; basically the league minimum. Lavoie did not list the AHL part of the contract, but it is likely in the $100,000 range. All NHL entry-level contracts are of the two-way variety.
Moser is under a two-year contract with Bern of the Swiss League A as well, but that contract allows him to get out of it should he land an NHL agreement.
But Bern issued a press release early Monday stating that Moser’s deal with the Predators is provisional until December 15th, at which time he can return to Bern. It seems likely that should Moser be with the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL at that time, he would return to Switzerland.
With the Predators rookies opening camp today, the full team reporting next week and the preseason opener 17 days away, we checked in with Predators president Sean Henry and did a walkthrough of the on-going upgrades at Bridgestone Arena.
Henry likes to point out that, ideally, renovations never stop at an entertainment venue; however, the current round of upgrades is the largest capital improvement project in the arena's history.
It primarily focuses on the Demonbreun side of the building — a long-forgotten back entrance that needed to be "activated" with the opening of the Music City Center across the street. (See rendering below.)
When the puck drops for the regular season opener Oct. 8 against Minnesota, the first big upgrades will have made their debut. Henry said the new marquee at Fifth & Broadway — which will include a double-sided video board, replacing the static sign and LED display on the current marquee — will be ready in early October, along with two new video components on the arena's Demonbreun side. The largely empty exterior wall of the rehearsal space at Demonbreun and Fifth has long featured over-sized player photos. Those photos will be replaed by 15-by-28-foot video board. Along the long side of the arena will be a rolling scroll of upcoming events at Bridgestone.
The overhaul of the ingress and egress of the rear plaza — which will include a revamped south entrance, plus expanded public gathering space, band stage and other branded spaces — should be complete by mid-November.
Henry expects all actual construction to be done by the "end of fall 2013."
The final pieces of the puzzle — which are expected to include a new pub-style, open-to-the-rear-plaza bar the lower level of what is now the parking garage and expanded retail space along Fifth — should be complete by March.
Despite serving what The Score's Jo Innes called the NHL's best hot dog, Bridgestone Arena is developing a reputation for serving arena food that is lauded for its local touches (like chicken-and-waffles and well-executed, if PG-13, hot chicken) and their simple fun (bacon on a stick!).
This season the chefs will roll out two new signature dishes: country-fried steak-on-a-stick and French-Canadian favorite poutine.
Poutine is typically served topped with brown gravy, but this is Nashville. The Bridgestone Arena version will feature sausage gravy. While we're told pimento cheese was briefly considered, ultimately the chefs stuck with what works and will use the traditional cheese curds.
Tuesday was not a red-letter day at 501 Broadway.
Maybe it was a red-squiggly-line day — as in the one that makes its tight little sine curve underneath misspelled words — but not a red-letter day, for sure.
The Nashville Predators sent out one of their regular season-ticket holder e-mails Tuesday morning, part of the aggressive plan implemented by CEO Jeff Cogen and COO Sean Henry nearly three years ago to keep season-ticket holders happy and engaged — Cogen calls these kind of things "flowers" — as they bring in new fans with deep discounts and, often — especially last season — free tickets.
But Tuesday's e-mail was no regular e-mail. Tuesday's e-mail — read it here — laid out the plan for season-ticket holders to pick up their Smashville Passports (the passport is a card onto which are loaded paperless tickets, "Smashville Reward Points" and serve as season-ticket ID badges for on-site discounts). It's a pretty exciting e-mail, one that portends the coming hockey season.
The e-mail repeatedly misspells Demonbreun, and that's forgivable as even Jacques-Timothée Boucher, Sieur de Montbrun's Wikipedia page notes the various and sundry spellings of what became his surname. And the "beable" in the next-to-last paragraph? Easy to overlook.
But the e-mail includes this exhortation: "Go Perds!"
Most of the time, these type of things would stay there, bounce around the echo chamber, only to resonate again when some Predator would make an especially Perds-ian error.
Unluckily, Keith Olbermann got a hold of it on his new ESPN show and declared the Preds-slash-Perds "The World's Worst."
If 2012 was the summer of handwringing for the Predators — with Ryan Suter's departure and Shea Weber's offer-sheet — 2013's offseason has been the summer of...odd publicity. How They laughed at the gold ice and how They mocked the plan to keep the Blackhawks fans out.
Those moves ("stunts" is maybe too strong a word, but not by much) brought a lot of summertime publicity to the Predators — some good, some bad but publicity all the same, and there's almost no bad publicity for a team like the Predators.
But the "Perds" thing? Avoidable, unplanned — and now immortalized via a gag on Olbermann.
The best move for the Preds? Beyond ignoring it (which Keith made all but impossible), probably a grin-and-bear-it approach — heck, they ought to embrace it with Barves-style t-shirts.
Go Perds, indeed.
Fox Sports Tennessee and SportSouth have agreed to a long-term contract with the Nashville Predators that will televise a minimum of 75 Nashville Predators regular-season games beginning with the 2013-14 season. Financial terms aren't being released for the deal, which covers more than 4 million households in Tennessee, Kentucky and northern parts of Alabama and Mississippi.
“To have a partner that recognizes the strength of the Predators brand and the importance of broadcasting in Nashville and across the southeast is tremendous,” Nashville Predators Executive Vice President Chris Parker said. “FOX Sports Tennessee and SportSouth are premier networks and this extension further solidifies the future of the Predators franchise. Following in the footsteps of other recently-signed early extensions with existing partners, like Bridgestone Americas, this deal is a great indicator of our commitment to providing our fans – who tuned in at an all-time high last season – with a first-class experience when it comes to their team.”
Ratings for Nashville Predators telecasts on FOX Sports Tennessee and SportSouth increased 40 percent from the 2010-11 season to the 2011-12 season. The team’s 5.2 rating on SportSouth for Game Five of the 2012 Western Conference Quarterfinals against Detroit was the highest TV rating for a playoff game in franchise history, reaching 53,000 households. Keeping consistent with last year’s success, the Predators are averaging a 1.7 rating through the first several games of the season.
The release also promised expanded programming options and a new "semi-permanent" broadcast location at Bridgestone Arena.