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PASabreFan

Sabres' attendance slipping

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They're on pace for the lowest attendance since 03-04. Really, it's been a remarkable run. Last season was the first time since the Presidents' Trophy season that they dipped under 18,000.

http://www.hockeydb.com/nhl-attendance/att_graph.php?tmi=5054

And remember these figures are tickets sold, not fannies in the seats. Last night looked like pretty sparse despite an announced crowd of 15k+

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The team being bad for a long, long time is going to have a downward effect on attendance. That seems natural and inevitable.

I am curious, though, about whether and to what extent larger societal/cultural forces could begin to ding attendance at Sabres games. I can't put my finger on it, of course. It's just a general sense that rabid fandom among the hometown faithful is on the wane, and that young people get their sports-tainment content from all kinds of sources nowadays.

If the Sabres are, say, 5 games over DeLuca .500 at the turn of the new year, I would expect most games to be sold out. But that's at the start of 2020. What about 2025? I dunno. Just thinking.

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I’ve always hated the “tickets sold” number they announce. It’s such a farce. 
It’s always gonna be 15,000+ because there are over 15,000 season ticket holders. Those are bought and paid for before opening night. 
I know it’ll never change, but it would be nice if they reported the number of tickets scanned at the entrance. Not the tickets sold.

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7 minutes ago, New Scotland (NS) said:

A string of games like last night and the place will be packed again.

Their hot start didn't seem to have that kind of effect. We'll see if the holiday season and end of the Bills season kickstarts things.

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3 minutes ago, Zamboni said:

I’ve always hated the “tickets sold” number they announce. It’s such a farce. 
It’s always gonna be 15,000+ because there are over 15,000 season ticket holders. Those are bought and paid for before opening night. 
I know it’ll never change, but it would be nice if they reported the number of tickets scanned at the entrance. Not the tickets sold.

Do the Bills still do it that way? I remember during the Super Bowl years, Van Miller would announce the attendance on a day the game was sold out, then chastise the 74 people who didn't show up.

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7 minutes ago, PASabreFan said:

Their hot start didn't seem to have that kind of effect. We'll see if the holiday season and end of the Bills season kickstarts things.

The Bills season won't end until early February 2020, so we will have to be patient to see that effect, eh?

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9 minutes ago, PASabreFan said:

Their hot start didn't seem to have that kind of effect. We'll see if the holiday season and end of the Bills season kickstarts things.

Fans need to see more than a good stretch and I can't say I blame them. If the Sabres actually put together a good season, I think we'll see the uptick next season. Similar to how the box office works for movies in a franchise. 

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14 minutes ago, That Aud Smell said:

The team being bad for a long, long time is going to have a downward effect on attendance. That seems natural and inevitable.

I am curious, though, about whether and to what extent larger societal/cultural forces could begin to ding attendance at Sabres games. I can't put my finger on it, of course. It's just a general sense that rabid fandom among the hometown faithful is on the wane, and that young people get their sports-tainment content from all kinds of sources nowadays.

If the Sabres are, say, 5 games over DeLuca .500 at the turn of the new year, I would expect most games to be sold out. But that's at the start of 2020. What about 2025? I dunno. Just thinking.

Interesting and tend to agree, but on the other end of that is "the gram". Chet and Muffy's kids if you will.

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22 minutes ago, That Aud Smell said:

I am curious, though, about whether and to what extent larger societal/cultural forces could begin to ding attendance at Sabres games. I can't put my finger on it, of course. It's just a general sense that rabid fandom among the hometown faithful is on the wane, and that young people get their sports-tainment content from all kinds of sources nowadays.

It's also a pretty expensive night out for millennials carrying heavy student debt.  There aren't any $6 seats in the oranges anymore (and IMHO there should be -- I'd encourage the Sabres to sell all unsold upper-deck seats on game day for $10 to anyone with a student ID ).

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22 minutes ago, Zamboni said:

I’ve always hated the “tickets sold” number they announce. It’s such a farce. 
It’s always gonna be 15,000+ because there are over 15,000 season ticket holders. Those are bought and paid for before opening night. 
I know it’ll never change, but it would be nice if they reported the number of tickets scanned at the entrance. Not the tickets sold.

To what end do WE need to know how many fans are attending games. The people that NEED to know are the Pegulas and their bean counters. 

Stubhub is always a good barometer for these things.  

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This would explain the call from the Sabres to my home the other day. They're definitely not looking at hiring me.

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1 hour ago, That Aud Smell said:

The team being bad for a long, long time is going to have a downward effect on attendance. That seems natural and inevitable.

I am curious, though, about whether and to what extent larger societal/cultural forces could begin to ding attendance at Sabres games. I can't put my finger on it, of course. It's just a general sense that rabid fandom among the hometown faithful is on the wane, and that young people get their sports-tainment content from all kinds of sources nowadays.

If the Sabres are, say, 5 games over DeLuca .500 at the turn of the new year, I would expect most games to be sold out. But that's at the start of 2020. What about 2025? I dunno. Just thinking.

I know I was never able  to get my son seriously interested in  a team that was clearly not trying to win.  7 years ago puts him at 15.  He'd be an occasional ticket buyer today if they had won him over as a fan in high school.

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I used to go to a lot of Sabres games, and had Season tickets to the Bills a long time ago, but I basically have stopped going to all games the last few years..  Its not just how good/bad the team is playing, it is a lot of other things.

-Price of tickets and the entire gameday experience.  I don't have to go over it in great detail, but add the price of the tickets, parking, something to drink or a snack..and what does it come to?  OR....watching it at home on a big screen high-def TV, climate controlled living room choice of food/drinks and comfortable chair.  Oh, and don't have to leave the house early/come home late.

-Value for what you get.  Even if I DID decide the above point still made me want to go to some games instead of watching at home...there is the entertainment value for the money equation.  Very rarely do I "enjoy" a game if my team loses...and there are even the occasional boring-clunkers when they win.  So when I do go to the game...there is usually less than a 50% chance I come away happy/feel I got my moneys worth.  Or, for a fraction of the price I can go to a movie which is 'fake and scripted' for no other reason than to be enjoyable...not left up to the chance of competition.

If the games were a LOT cheaper to attend.....or if there was one or two things that blew me away there (the best/most magnificent arena in the league, or a team the competed for the presidents trophy and was a top scoring team), then that might draw me there....but I guess as I get older...I just think that watching the game at home gives me 90% of what I want when seeing the game (sometimes more than the in-arena experience) at a fraction of not only the cost, but of the time also.

A new Stadium or Arena would get me to attend some games...why?  Because I can be a fan of the team at home already for free...to draw me out to the game and buy a ticket, I need to have something that I can't get at home AND something that is different/newer/better than I have experienced in the past when buying a ticket.

I know the people who attend the games do not feel the same way as I do....but for those who don't go to games anymore (or as much), I have to think that it is not 100% the success/failure of the team...but maybe some of the other issues above that contribute to that decision.

Edited by mjd1001
errors
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1 hour ago, New Scotland (NS) said:

A string of games like last night and the place will be packed again.

I think they’ve reached the point where it won’t start to be reversed until they make a playoff appearance. 

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1 minute ago, shrader said:

I think they’ve reached the point where it won’t start to be reversed until they make a playoff appearance. 

I'd say you are right.  Winning a bunch of games in a row now will not likely do it.  If they start winning more and that continues and a playoff appearance starts to look more and more likely then maybe that will do it.

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1 hour ago, nfreeman said:

It's also a pretty expensive night out for millennials carrying heavy student debt.  There aren't any $6 seats in the oranges anymore (and IMHO there should be -- I'd encourage the Sabres to sell all unsold upper-deck seats on game day for $10 to anyone with a student ID ).

They do have tickets available in the LECOM Student Section for 25.00 a piece. 
 

And free tickets if you are a LECOM Student apparently. 

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2 hours ago, nfreeman said:

It's also a pretty expensive night out for millennials carrying heavy student debt.  There aren't any $6 seats in the oranges anymore (and IMHO there should be -- I'd encourage the Sabres to sell all unsold upper-deck seats on game day for $10 to anyone with a student ID ).

This program exists, but it's $20 and the tickets do not have to be "unsold" as of any point in time.

Edited by Eleven
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49 minutes ago, Mustache of God said:

HEADLINE: TEAM MIRED IN DECADE LONG SLOG OF SUCKITUDE STRUGGLES TO SELL TICKETS. ARE MILLENNIALS TO BLAME?

Millennials are to blame for everything so it’s not a fair question.

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Attendance in all major sports is dropping for a whole assortment of reasons. That’s why most new stadia are being built with less actual seats and more bars, restaurants and common areas.

Blind loyalty is no longer a motivator to buy tickets. Easy access to secondary market tickets is just another reason season ticket sales will continue to plummet.

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The problem I see is the type of product the NHL wants to put out in order to attract the non-hockey market fans.  They want "old-time" hockey out of the game at all costs.  In markets like Buffalo, it's hard to get that mentality out of the fans.  Generally.  Yeah, the fans are younger, but that mentality is still there.  Back when we sucked in the mid 80's and parts of the 90's, they were at least entertaining.  A good scrap and angst throughout the game will get the fans out of their seats just as quick as any goal.  That animosity built up in the fans and made you want to go to the games to be a part of it.  That has been completely eliminated.  A 5-2 loss to whoever back then at least made you want to come back to see the rematch.  Fans in the non-traditional hockey markets have generally only seen the NHL as a glorified Friday night men's hockey league.  So what's boring most Sabres fans (me) is the norm for them.  And unfortunately, they will continue to outdraw us at the gate, get excited about boring hockey, and be a destination for would be free agents.  The only way we will get bodies back in the seats is to start consistently winning.  And with the ***** show in upper management, who knows if that will ever happen again.  

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4 hours ago, PASabreFan said:

They're on pace for the lowest attendance since 03-04. Really, it's been a remarkable run. Last season was the first time since the Presidents' Trophy season that they dipped under 18,000.

http://www.hockeydb.com/nhl-attendance/att_graph.php?tmi=5054

And remember these figures are tickets sold, not fannies in the seats. Last night looked like pretty sparse despite an announced crowd of 15k+

 

4 hours ago, PASabreFan said:

Their hot start didn't seem to have that kind of effect. We'll see if the holiday season and end of the Bills season kickstarts things.

For pretty much all the '90's and then through '03-'04 they always had trouble selling certain games early in the season.  Primarily weeknights versus non-traditional/ bad teams.  And under Rigas, the team gave away a LOT of tix especially post Hasek.

They'd also start picking up sales ~February and seemed to be pretty much sold out by the time the regular season was ending.  (Though playoff tix in the 1st round would be readily available.)

When Golisano bought the team, he reduced prices (which combined with the relaxation that comes from knowing officially something that was very unlikely (relocation) was completely off the table.  Then after the lockout, they caught lightning in a bottle and had a waiting list by the end of that off-season.  And it took about 7 years of horrible hockey to finally kill that demand.

And now they're back to a point where unless the team is winning and the Bills are irrelevant (or in the off-season) they'll be the 2nd choice.

The trip to Sweden hurt too as they only played 2 games in 12 days and that was amid the downstream.  What would normally have been a 2-1/2 week slump ended up lasting nearly 4 weeks because they didn't play for a while and that made the slump seem even deeper than it was (and it was bad 6 points out of 10 games dropped that 5 point playoff bank to a 1 point playoff deficit).

I expect them to stay fairly level attendance wise from here (with maybe a slight uptick) until the Bills are done.  Then they'll do better on that front.  But Shrader is likely on the right track saying a long playoff run (or a handful of very entertaining seasons) will be necessary to get that '70's / late '00's vibe that the Sabres game was the place to be.  Whoever convinced them to tank, congrats, it took 7 or so years but you killed that golden goose.  Good luck getting 1 of its eggs to hatch to find a new one.  Going to need it.

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2 hours ago, Taro T said:

 

For pretty much all the '90's and then through '03-'04 they always had trouble selling certain games early in the season.  Primarily weeknights versus non-traditional/ bad teams.  And under Rigas, the team gave away a LOT of tix especially post Hasek.

They'd also start picking up sales ~February and seemed to be pretty much sold out by the time the regular season was ending.  (Though playoff tix in the 1st round would be readily available.)

When Golisano bought the team, he reduced prices (which combined with the relaxation that comes from knowing officially something that was very unlikely (relocation) was completely off the table.  Then after the lockout, they caught lightning in a bottle and had a waiting list by the end of that off-season.  And it took about 7 years of horrible hockey to finally kill that demand.

And now they're back to a point where unless the team is winning and the Bills are irrelevant (or in the off-season) they'll be the 2nd choice.

The trip to Sweden hurt too as they only played 2 games in 12 days and that was amid the downstream.  What would normally have been a 2-1/2 week slump ended up lasting nearly 4 weeks because they didn't play for a while and that made the slump seem even deeper than it was (and it was bad 6 points out of 10 games dropped that 5 point playoff bank to a 1 point playoff deficit).

I expect them to stay fairly level attendance wise from here (with maybe a slight uptick) until the Bills are done.  Then they'll do better on that front.  But Shrader is likely on the right track saying a long playoff run (or a handful of very entertaining seasons) will be necessary to get that '70's / late '00's vibe that the Sabres game was the place to be.  Whoever convinced them to tank, congrats, it took 7 or so years but you killed that golden goose.  Good luck getting 1 of its eggs to hatch to find a new one.  Going to need it.

My best memories growing up were in empty arenas for Sabres games. I feel like a lot of people over look the early 2000s with this team. I remember going to games barely pushing 10,000. The team used to do a lot more for season ticket holders when the arena wasn’t full.  They haven’t really done much of anything for ST holders since Rigas left, at least not like they were doing it then.  

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