NHL teams are pulling out the stops and offering a bevy of benefits and apologies to their fans before the 2013 season gets underway this weekend. The Boston Bruins have already unveiled their 2013 fan stimulus plan.
Here are some of the things the team will offer to fans who truly do need some love shown to them so they will return:
- Every single fan who attends a home game in January will get a voucher that is good for three food or drink items (non-alcoholic only) for that game
- All merchandise stands will have 25 percent off deals and 30 percent off for season ticket holders and Premium Club members throughout January
- Game-worn jerseys can be won at the Jan. 19 season opener, just like at the last game of the regular season
- Fans can win a chance to fly with the team on Bear Force One or go inside the locker room after a game at the season opener
- Other items up for grabs at the season opener: free parking for home games, the use of a VIP suite for a game or concert, an exclusive skate at TD Garden, a shopping spree at the pro shop
The first session of training camp was also open to the public and provided free parking–although I would rather just ride the T, really.
There’s also something brewing with game-used sticks. Andrew Ference and Tyler Seguin gave their Twitter followers a look into what’s going on in that area:
More than 1,000 autographs? In one sitting, I presume? Ouch! The guys might need to rest their writing hands. At least the guys got some TV to watch while they did their John Hancock a thousand times.
But here’s the thing about some of these perks: they don’t last very long at all. There are only five Bruins home games in January, so the perks like free concessions and discounts at the pro shop are only valid for a mere five games. To me, that’s not the mea culpa fans deserve after being jilted so hard and so often during the lockout. Some of those giveaways are pretty nice, but I think they need to be strengthened. Here’s what I would do.
I’d make those concession vouchers a thing for all home games. TD Garden concessions are owned by Delaware North, the family company of team owner Jeremy Jacobs. Delaware North is a huge company with a lot of holdings all over the world. I think they can afford to hand out free concessions to fans at 24 different games over the course of four months. (February won’t be much of a hit for them because the Bruins play at home just three times that month.) Especially for families who want to go to the games, that could be a big help when the kids inevitably get hungry after they’ve entered the arena.
I’d say keep the merchandise deals going through February to see how response is and if it is helping to improve the bottom line. If the discount is really helping, keep that going through the season too.
Maybe every month, there should be a drawing for a tour of the locker room. It’s all new and spruced up, so why not show it off to fans?
Plus, show the season ticket holders who did not cancel their plans–I personally know some and they were very frustrated during the lockout–some love. If my local ECHL team can give free restaurant cash and other fun little perks to a season ticket holder every single game, the Bruins can find something neat to give away each game too. Maybe a puck autographed by a different player every time?
Another idea borrowed from my ECHL team: special ticket and merchandise deals. There are some games where tickets are a little cheaper than normal and sometimes the team offers a spotlight item for $5 while supplies last. Again, if a team at the AA level can do it, so can a team in the big show.
So, these prongs of the Bruins fan stimulus plan are a good start, but considering what fans went through from September to January, they deserve more.