This was written on another forum in response to a discussion that took place on ticketing strategies for teams that fail to fill their arena on a consistent basis. Some of you may know that I am a Rangers fan, and while I wholeheartedly root against New Jersey when the NYR play them, I believe getting more fans into the Prudential Center on a regular basis is of the utmost importance to growing of hockey in our area.
The issue Mike was bringing up on the previous page deals with sunk cost theorem. A very basic description is the following: if you're an airline, and you have a half-filled flight booked to Amsterdam, it behooves you to sell your remaining seats at a discounted rate because the flight will be taking off and leaving regardless of whether or not you fill those empty seats.
The same principle can apply to a hockey game, on the surface at least. It's going to be played anyway, so why not sell vacant seats at a discounted rate right before and during the initial portions of the game? If there were 3-4 Devils games per year, you could pull this off. Why? There would be an incentive for fans to buy the $70 and $100 seats, just like there's an incentive to buy your plane ticket to Amsterdam well in advance - you want to make sure you have a seat. None of these fans would consider waiting until the last minute to buy cheaper tickets because in their minds, the mental security of having admission to an event they want to attend is worth paying the extra price. In this case, having a situation where cheap tickets are offered won't have an affect on the overall demand structure of devils games.
There are 41 Devils games a year, and the demand for tickets to games isn't that great. In fact, you can probably scalp a ticket (I don't suggest doing this in Newark) for less than face value. In the event they cannot find a scalper, fans know they can just walk up to the box office and grab a ticket. If you start selling some of those tickets for significantly less money (even during a small time window), you'll create demand for THOSE tickets, not the ones you need to sell to meet your gate revenue, and your advance sales will go down as a result. This is not good for any hockey team - you want people to have paid for their ticket before they get there so they are almost financially bound to coming into the arena.
Jeffrey Vanderbeek (Devils owner) knows that putting the onus of his gate revenue on people to come into Newark on game day to grab tickets is far too risky. The Devils have been doing the right thing in selecting certain games as 'half price ticket night', 'college night', and '$1 hot dog night'. However they need more of those games, and they need to get the word out - I should see a sign on every train I take advertising these games and which nights they will be. Perhaps they can even employ Mike's idea on select nights, but without that much notice to give more fans the incentive to buy higher priced tickets.
It's a delicate game the devils have to play in order to generate revenue. In order for this franchise to grow to its full potential, it needs a much more aggressive marketing strategy than the rather passive one I see every day in New Jersey.
P.S. I know that in-arena revenue is important and that you should do anything you can to maximize it. You just don't want to alter the demand structure and force fans away when they can't afford a $10 ticket. Get more fans in the building however the hell you can and show them an experience. Make them want to come back. The Prudential Center is a great experience, but you still have to sell hockey in Newark.