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Whaleofatime

CT Whale 2011-2012 Attendance

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Frankly, I'd be shocked if mid-week "school-day" games weren't requested by individual AHL franchises - Tuesday's Whale home "school-day" game included. I just don't see the league TELLING member-franchises that they MUST host a mid-week, afternoon game. That just strikes me as being a responsibility that an individual franchise would initially take on itself in an effort to target a very specific market segment. If said franchise had luck with it, they'd continue to do it up to a few times each season. If it proved to be a colossal failure the first time, they wouldn't request that the league allow them to host such a game in the **ture. ****, those franchises that never seem to play them have likely just made the decision that they don't want to be bothered going to the extra trouble of organizing/marketing such games.

 

Which still begs the question of what exactly happened on Tuesday? I'm inclined to think that this was just another case of someone at WSE failing to follow-through on the details. During the off-season, I could see Baldwin being hyped-up in his big-vision, broad-outline way about engaging in some outreach to the youth of the Greater Hartford marketplace and resolving to schedule a mid-week, "school game" sometime during the 2011-2012 campaign. Then, said season got underway and Baldwin-and-Company - as so often seems to be the case at WSE - failed to "dot the i's and cross the t's". The end result? Proper planning for - and marketing of - the "school game" fell by the wayside and - Voila! - an abysmal turnout.

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For someone who has been in this for about 40 years Baldwin's performance has been sadly piti**l. There seems to be too many rookie mistakes. Coupled with Baldwin's big talk it just looks really bad. It is now safe to say the "rebranding" did nothing in increase interest. I don't want to hear "it takes time". Save for the first "Whale" game nothing has happened. There should have been some appreciable changes happening. I am not very surprised by this since I don't think anything would have really made a difference. But it is **nny to me that after watching some fans and nearly all the Hartford media fall for this that all that has been proven is that Hartford is not a hockey town after all.

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Now Vince,

 

Before MarkH goes off on you. Let me tell you that he is going to say that the CT Whale is averaging 500 more people a game then the Hartford WolfPack did in their final season. So the rebrand was well worth it. Because the rebrand is the only reason those 500 new fan are there.

 

It can't be because the team is on TV or on a real radio station, or had the exposure of an outdoor hockey game or tricking the media to cover the team for awhile or selling tickets for $7 or having the team mascot make god knows how many appearances or having many more employees to sell Hartford hockey then anyone before, or the fact that those employees sell hockey year round. Nobody is coming to games for those reasons. In fact if Baldwin did all those things for the WolfPack, attendance would have continued to decrease from the 4,100.

 

And lets be clear Vince. If Howard showed up at all the corporations that have bought tickets from him, wearing a red WolfPack scarf instead of a green Whale scarf, he would have had the door slammed in his face at each and every corporation.

 

But look at it this way. If Hartford Hockey becomes no more, then the finger will not be pointed at the WolfPack brand, it will be pointed at the Whaler fans who didn't show up to enough Whale games and their god Howard Baldwin.

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I'm not going to go off on Vince or you. Look, I totally get it, you were perfectly happy with the way things were. You loved the fact that you had your beloved WolfPack, you loved the fact attendance dropped 9 seasons in a row (and will be 10 of 11 after this one is done), you were perfectly content that nobody went to games, and that you couldn't find a big late-season away game on the radio...that was fine with you. As long as the evil Whalers and anything and everything *****ociated with them were gone...it was all good.

 

The 55 home games under the Whale brand have averaged 5,635/game. The last 55 home games under the WolfPack brand averaged 4,146/game. So the increase isn't 500, it's almost 3 times that much, 1,489/game, or about 36%. That is still a very significant difference.

 

If Hartford hockey fails, it is because Baldwin and WSE put all their eggs into one basket, so to speak, the outdoor event, which was a colossal money loss, and their complete lack of marketing for non Sa****ay night games. Add all of that, to the 9 years of declining attendance/interest from the so called "WolfPack Nation", and that would explain it.

 

Baldwin would get a lot of the blame...but don't think for one minute that the WolfPack fans that suddenly stopped going to games didn't have something to do with it too. If it happens.

Edited by Guest

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But look at it this way. If Hartford Hockey becomes no more, then the finger will not be pointed at the Whaler brand, it will be pointed at the Wolf Pack fans who didn't show up to enough Wolf Pack games and their god MSG.

 

Wow same difference! I guess Mark was right you were being phoney all along, you never wanted this to succeed. If the Wolf Pack came back and had 8 to 10k a night I would be happy with that but if that happened with the Whale you would be stomping your boots and throwing a fit. Thats where the difference is between you and I. The failure of anything hockey in this city rests as much on any hartford hockey fan regardless of their petty affiliations. I went to Wolf Pack games they were boring, I have gone to Whale games they are less boring. That is about it.

 

Whaler games were exciting and **n, and the city had pride, but alot of us have forgotten that, I wish you kids new what it was like back then you have no idea. 12-14k a night beats 3-6k a night always.

 

Mark has it if you take the last 55 whale games and the last 55 Wolf Pack games the difference is easily noticeable. People dont love the Whale but People just cared less about the Pack. Sorry but its true.

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"But look at it this way. If Hartford Hockey becomes no more, then the finger will not be pointed at the Whaler brand, it will be pointed at the Wolf Pack fans who didn't show up to enough Wolf Pack games and their god MSG."

 

um.......the WolfPack are not the current team and MSG hasn't had anything to do with marketing Hartford Hockey since '06 I think. Even Mark agrees Hartford's Hockey **ture is in Baldwins hands, no one else.

I don't root for Hartford Hockey to fail. If I did the last thing I would do is give my money to WSE to support the team. We can all speculate what would have happened if Baldwin did everything for the WolfPack that he did for the Whale. But honestly no one knows. Because he didn't give it a shot.

12-14k crowds would be unbelievable. Heck if the rebrand meant 7-10k a night, I would be praising Howard Baldwin, but I knew it wouldn't and it hasn't.

Evo, I respect you cause you don't lash out at me all the time. But please don't call me a phony when you gave up on supporting Hartford Hockey and came back, when I have never left. Don't get me wrong, I don't blame you or Mark in this, because you guys are there now. It's the people who are not that are the problem. Yes, that includes WolfPack fans that are not there. Attendance was/is depressing. Had a lot of WolfPack fans on the fence about giving up. The rebrand gave them an out. But the rebrand was done for Whaler fans, so the question is, where are they????

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"Even Mark agrees Hartford's Hockey **ture is in Baldwins hands, no one else"

 

Incorrect. Hartford's NHL **ture is in Baldwin's hands, no one else. Hartford's hockey **ture is in the hands of a few groups, specifically WSE, MSG and AEG. If they can work together to come up with a new lease that will work for all parties involved, then WSE stays as the marketing wing of MSG's AHL franchise, and AEG will likely stay on as the manager of the building. If they can't work together, then WSE is out, MSG will be here through the end of next season, then it's anybody's guess as to what will happen next, with both the team and the manager of the arena. Steedman can say he's confident that AEG will be back, but he doesn't know that for sure.

 

"I don't root for Hartford Hockey to fail. If I did the last thing I would do is give my money to WSE to support the team."

 

You root for Baldwin to fail, you have said that numerous times now.

 

"We can all speculate what would have happened if Baldwin did everything for the WolfPack that he did for the Whale. But honestly no one knows. Because he didn't give it a shot."

 

Baldwin told me off camera last Wednesday night that he knew the rebrand was an absolute necessity. While the numbers haven't jumped by the leaps and bounds everybody thought they would, they are still up 36% over the WolfPack numbers. I keep bringing up the Rock Cats and their numbers, and while it's definitely a point that I should not compare hockey to baseball...I can tell you it took the Rock Cats 5-8 years to get where they wanted to be. Not 1 like WSE (and most others thought)

 

(cont)

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"12-14k crowds would be unbelievable. Heck if the rebrand meant 7-10k a night, I would be praising Howard Baldwin, but I knew it wouldn't and it hasn't."

 

Nobody with a brain expected 12-14K crowds. Stop that crap right now. Now, for 7-10K/night...again, that was way, way too optimistic. With no season ticket base, a complete lack of coverage by the majority of the media, no radio or TV, and Howard and his group taking over with 17 days to work before last season's opener, it would have been an absolute freaking miracle to get to 7,000/game. All things considered, to be at 5,700/game last year, even with the avalanche of free tickets he gave away (another mistake on Howard's part, which I have mentioned here over and over again) was pretty solid. Not the 7-10K we thought, but a step in the right direction.

 

They have doubled their season ticket base, it's up to around about 950 now. That's not great, but it's at least progress. Now...the attendance has taken a step back this year, no two ways about that, but you also have to figure the avalanche of free tickets is gone also. The number (4,625/game) is down, but I would tend to bet there are a lot more paying customers in that number than there were in the 5,700 number from last year. I don't know that for sure, but I have a feeling that's a pretty safe *****umption.

 

(cont)

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"Don't get me wrong, I don't blame you or Mark in this, because you guys are there now. It's the people who are not that are the problem. Yes, that includes WolfPack fans that are not there. Attendance was/is depressing. Had a lot of WolfPack fans on the fence about giving up. The rebrand gave them an out. But the rebrand was done for Whaler fans, so the question is, where are they????"

 

That is the million dollar question. Some Whalers fans won't go regardless (Vince, though I question whether or not he was really a Whaler fan). I still think it comes down to the marketing aspect of this, and that's where WSE has screwed up big time. You go onto other team websites around the league, and there are promotions galore. Grand Rapids has $1 beer and hot dog nights on Fridays. Providence has a myriad of promotions running. So do a bunch of teams. Hartford? Nothing.

 

With a new, more manageable lease, and more consistent marketing, meaning more than just a few Sa****ay nights per season, we can get to the 7-10K/night Howard is looking for. But it's not going to happen overnight. And it just might take a bigger effort from the people that support him now. Like us. I'm chucking around the idea of going up to 20 games. Not sure if I will or not, but I'm thinking about it...the more support they can get, the better the chances of hockey, regardless of league, staying long term.

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I thought everything stays the same till the end of the contract in 2013? What has to be worked out for next year?

 

I respect that you asked Baldwin the question of if the rebrand was necessary but come on. Do you really expect him to admit to you that he was wrong for doing it? 4,100 to 4,600 is not up 36%. So my next question would have been, if 4,600/game is not good enough what is necessary now?

 

In Baldwins defense of the whole promotional thing, he has no control over concessions arena, mall or parking. I don't care who it is running the team if the person had a say in all 4 of those things, they could make it a lot more inviting to come check out a game.

 

What I meant earlier about the **ture being in Baldwins hands is, He has between now and 2013 to convince companies (MSG, AEG, or who ever could put in a bid for the arena) that Hartford Hockey makes sense. I'm not sure 4,600 is going to convince many companies that hockey has to be in a 15k arena. MSG is the only one that would put it there if they won the bid, cause it's their team. Of course same could be said if a company owned another AHL team won the bid, but they are not going to pull the team if it is doing better somewhere else.(there are only 7 AHL teams with lower attendance)

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"4,100 to 4,600 is not up 36%."

 

Why are you changing the numbers?

 

first 55 games under the Whale brand = 309,916 fans, 5,635/game

last 55 games under the WolfPack brand = 228,046 fans, 4,146/game

 

The difference in those two numbers is 1,489/game, or 36%.

 

Now then..."What I meant earlier about the **ture being in Baldwins hands is, He has between now and 2013 to convince companies (MSG, AEG, or who ever could put in a bid for the arena) that Hartford Hockey makes sense."

 

Baldwin doesn't want to run the building. He wants the lease to be fair enough to give him a chance of being here long term, there is no way he can survive past this season without a new lease. And once again, the lease is up after next year, so it has to be done anyway, whether WSE pays the rent, or MSG pays the rent. He badly misjudged how screwed up this market is fan wise, and now knows just what kind of a project this really is. He was also wrong on doing the outdoor hockey game when he did it, he should have taken a year or even two to build up the market some first, THEN have the game. But that's water under the bridge now.

 

Fixing this market is going to take time. We all thought changing the name and colors and bringing back Hartford's fight song was enough, but it clearly is not. More has to be done. More corporations need to come on board. More season tickets (or partials) have to be bought. More media coverage has to happen. More advertising on TV and radio. More promotions, like dollar draft nights, and guaranteed win night, and whatever. Move the Friday night games back to 7:35.

 

All of the above can be talked about until we're blue in the face...if Howard can't get a better lease for the **ture, it's all a moot point. He'll be out, MSG will be back in for the 2012-13 season, and after that it's literally anybody's guess what will happen with the team, and the manager of the building.

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ok work with me here Mark,

 

What your saying is Howard can not afford to pay the 21k/game rent for another season right? Which no one will dispute that its way too much.

So Howard wants to enter a renegotiation with AEG to lower the rent and possibly MSG to help him pay the rent for 1 season remaining on the contract. In simple terms this is what your trying to say right? And where does the franchise fee MSG charges him fit into all this? Is there anything else that would be negotiated that I didn't already mention?

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"What your saying is Howard can not afford to pay the 21k/game rent for another season right? Which no one will dispute that its way too much."

 

Per the note Evo posted on a different thread from Al Victor, that number is actually $24,000/game, or $912,000 for the season. ($24K X 38 home games). I am under the *****umption playoff games are rent-free, though I do not know that for sure. Either way, yes, that's exactly what I'm saying.

 

"So Howard wants to enter a renegotiation with AEG to lower the rent and possibly MSG to help him pay the rent for 1 season remaining on the contract."

 

Howard wants a new lease for longer than 1 year, he's looking for a long term deal. Let me see if I can make this clearer.

 

If Howard can negotiate a new lease with AEG, who is running the building for the city and state, then he and the Rangers will extend their stay in Hartford. If WSE and AEG can't come to terms on a new lease and soon, then Howard and WSE will be forced to close their doors, which would mean MSG would be back in charge of marketing and stuff for the 2012/2013 season, the last year under the current lease. At that point, it would be totally up to MSG whether or not they want to extend their deal in Hartford, or possibly look for another place for their farm team.

 

So basically, there are 3 ways this can play out.

 

1) Howard gets a new lease where he can stay in business, he and the Rangers stay in Hartford for the forseeable **ture.

2) Howard doesn't get the lease and has to close, MSG takes over and they and AEG work out a new lease

3) Howard doesn't get the lease and has to close, MSG decides to find another place to play after 2013.

 

At this point in time, any one of those is entirely possible...

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MarkH2919 wrote :

> Fixing this market is going to take time. We all thought changing the name

> and colors and bringing back Hartford's fight song was enough, but it

> clearly is not. More has to be done. More corporations need to come on

> board. More season tickets (or partials) have to be bought. More media

> coverage has to happen. More advertising on TV and radio. More promotions,

> like dollar draft nights, and guaranteed win night, and whatever. Move the

> Friday night games back to 7:35.

 

This ^ is true.

 

To step back & take an objective look would mean to acknowledge that this market is all over the place. We've got a bunch of different entities, AEG, WS&E, MSG, the media, the fans, corporations, etc, supporting or not supporting the effort to various degrees because, regardless of whatever any actually say, it seems that all have different agendas.

 

The hardest issue we may have to overcome is that in order to be success**l in bringing the NHL back, most if not all of those entities will have to work together for the same goal. Just not sure that's ever going to happen now, or ever was.

 

You can now almost see the **ture here. By 2018, we'll have an AHL team, Rangers affiliate or other, rebranded as the 'Hartford Tumbleweeds,' receiving no media coverage outside of Fox 61, playing in front of crowds smaller than the one there last Tuesday morning.

 

At that point whoever still cares will point fingers at everyone else, when the truth is from 1998 right up to the present, there's been enough bumbling, indifference, & mistakes on the parts of everyone that it really wouldn't matter. I love Hartford & I'll always root for us to succeed. If only we didn't make it so difficult on ourselves all the time.

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"We've got a bunch of different entities, AEG, WS&E, MSG, the media, the fans, corporations, etc, supporting or not supporting the effort to various degrees because, regardless of whatever any actually say, it seems that all have different agendas."

 

This ^ is 100% correct.

 

WSE's main agenda is building the market to the point where it can convince the NHL to return. MSG's main agenda is leaving things the way they are, but hope**lly with a little better lease. AEG's main agenda is to continue running the building where they make all the money. Three organizations. Three completely different mindsets.

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Mark,

 

That is what I figured you were saying but, Northland owns the property from what I was told by someone at WSE. Northland has leased the arena part to AEG to manage it through 2013. To me, if that is true then Northland(who will not even return Howards phone calls to put a team store in the mall) Would have to be willing to keep AEG there past 2013 for a renegotiation to even be considered.

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MarkH2919 wrote :

> "We've got a bunch of different entities, AEG, WS&E, MSG, the

> media, the fans, corporations, etc, supporting or not supporting the effort

> to various degrees because, regardless of whatever any actually say, it

> seems that all have different agendas."

>

> This ^ is 100% correct.

>

> WSE's main agenda is building the market to the point where it can convince

> the NHL to return. MSG's main agenda is leaving things the way they are,

> but hope**lly with a little better lease. AEG's main agenda is to continue

> running the building where they make all the money. Three organizations.

> Three completely different mindsets.

 

And the thing is once we realize that that's actually the case, it becomes harder to believe that an NHL return to Hartford will ever come to fruition.

 

One of the biggest issues now, is that the two entities whose self-interests are clearly better served if the NHL does not return to Hartford have significantly more $ than the one that does want the NHL back here. I think we all know who that type of discrepancy usually works out for.

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Northland does not own the entire property. They own the Atrium part of the property. The City of Hartford owns the Coliseum. AEG answers to the city of Hartford, not Northland. To my knowledge, Northland is completely out of the arena portion of the building...in fact, they might be out of the XL Center all together, that part I am not sure of.

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MarkH2919 wrote : We all thought changing the name and colors and bringing back Hartford's fight song was enough, but it clearly is not.

 

Very few people - if anyone at all - truly thought that "changing the name and colors and bringing back Hartford's fight song was enough". Least of all you, Mark. Are you honestly going to tell me that you thought that a simple rebranding of the Wolf Pack was going to turn the Hartford hockey marketplace around? We've had our differences from time to time, but I clearly consider you intelligent enough to have recognized that more than cosmetic changes were going to be necessary to resurrect that **ture prospects for pro hockey - whether major or minor-pro - in Hartford.

 

I knew that rebuilding the Greater Hartford hockey market was going to take more than unveiling a new name and logo, adopting Whalers-inspired colors, and trotting-out "Br***** Bonanza" after goals. Truth be told, anyone with an ounce of intelligence did.

 

Cosmetic changes are all well and good from a "feel-good" standpoint, but they don't do anything to address the significant business challenges facing a franchise operating in Hartford in the modern era of pro sports.

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>>>The 55 home games under the Whale brand have averaged 5,635/game. The last 55 home games under the WolfPack brand averaged 4,146/game. So the increase isn't 500, it's almost 3 times that much, 1,489/game, or about 36%. That is still a very significant difference. <<<

The issue with attendance that will be interesting is whether this year's numbers will match last years. The 39 regular season games at the XL last year averaged 5054. With a dozen games left in a 38 game home schedule there would have to be about a 6400 average to match last year's total. That appears to be stagnation in my view.

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Last year = 227,792 fans for 40 home dates = 5,695/game

Last year = 227,792 - 21,673 = 206,119 for 39 XL Center home dates = 5,285/game.

 

This year = 120,247 for 26 home dates = 4,625/game

200,830 = 5,285/game for 38 home dates.

to get to 5,285, the Whale would have to draw 80,583 fans for the last 12 games, or 6,715/game.

 

To get to Vince's 5,054/game number (no clue where that number came from), or 192,052 fans for the season, they would have to draw 71,805 fans for the last 12 games, or 5,984/game.

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BJ -- maybe "we all thought" might have been a bit presumptuous, but you know what I mean...A lot of people, some of them from this very message board, thought simple cosmetic changes was going to bring people steamrolling through the Coliseum doors.

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I just double checked the spreadsheet I use for this with the number on the AHL site. I mistyped the Jan 29 2011 game as 1872 instead of 10872. So to get to last years 39 game total at the XL of 5285 they would need to average 7156 over the last dozen home games to match that number, an even more daunting task.

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