To Free or Not Too Free – Kram’s Korner

Jason and I had a short back-and-forth on Twitter this evening as he proposed a “free tickets” campaign for the IronPigs to fill the stadium for the remaining playoff games. [edit: or so I thought.  He meant for a viewing party on the big screen.  I was tweeting, watching soccer and listening to a podcast at the same time, so it’s on me].  While free tickets might fill the seats, here are my reasons for disagreeing with free tickets:

  1. It cheapens the product.  Other professional sports teams have tried this through the years, and once you lower your ticket prices to “free,” then the perceived value decreases immediately.  It does not create lasting customers, just folks looking for a handout.
  2. “But it would sell concessions.”  Maybe.  But not as much as you might think.  The same folks who’ll get in line for the free tickets won’t necessarily spend a lot of cash on other things.
  3. It creates hard feelings.  What do you say to all the folks who HAVE paid for playoff tickets?  Many will ask for refunds.  Why should we ever buy tickets again, when we know the price will eventually go down to “free.”

So what should they be doing to fill the stadium on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday?  You know I’m not going to bother typing this if I don’t already have the answers: [edit: my suggestions hold, though.]

  1. Try to organize quick groups.  Group tickets are a big way that the ‘Pigs are able to sell as many regular season tickets as they do.  They work very, very hard to cultivate groups and group leaders and provide an experience for them.  They should have a database of all the group leaders and send them an email.  Some may jump at the chance to re-organize their regular season group for the playoffs.  This may help to sell the hospitality areas, as well.  You could put $4 added value on the playoff tickets, instead of the regular $2, to motivate action.
  2. Take advantage of your clubs.  Kids club members get one free ticket to any game.  Guess what?  Kids don’t come alone. It’s the same principle of the Clippers “get in free if you wear your Little League uniform” promotion.  It guarantees that you will sell more tickets to go along with the free one.  Plus, it’s a group benefit, not a freebie.  Perhaps Diamond Diva night in the picnic patio for one of the games?  Or in the dugout suites?  Silver Pigs can buy tickets for half price one night?  Too bad they don’t have a club for middle aged guys…
  3. Take advantage of your season ticket holders.  I have about 68 unused tickets or vouchers or whatnot.  If they came to me and said, “look, we’ll give you 34 tickets in section 104 if you promise to give them away or return them” then I could go out into the community and create goodwill giving away tickets that I’ve technically paid for.  Or, like Reading, just give $2 off playoff tickets for any unused ticket (rainouts, vouchers, season, whatever).  Again, that would be a benefit of the original ticket and not a freebie.
  4. Try to get some free local buzz.  They’re already doing this.  It’s brilliant, really.  I gather from Twitter than anyone who changes their marquee to “Go IronPigs” has a chance to win a dugout suite.  I don’t know all the details of the contest because I was too busy trying to get my marquee changed.
  5. Throw together some kind of promo.  They’re doing OK.  Rally towels Thursday, Fireworks Friday and Saturday.  But they could have a potluck giveaway by emptying the promo closet of all the leftovers.  Or, order a bunch of bobbles or other nicer item (hats?)  that could then be saved for next year if need be.  Consider some kind of “all you can eat” buffet ticket or promo.
  6. Try to get more local news coverage.  I know minor league teams often have to pay for their press coverage, and I don’t know what the deal entails with The Morning Call, but it seems to me that this should be a bigger deal in the local media.  Pay a little extra if you have to in order to get some big articles and pictures.  Perhaps the Express Times and channel 69 are doing a better job.

So there it is.  I’ll see you at the park Thursday.  I’m hoping for at least a split in Columbus and optimistic that there are no lefties in their rotation right now.

Categories: Kram's Korner - From the Club Level

12 replies

  1. Very good write-up Doc and I still blame Twitter for not allowing me enough characters to specify I meant for a Tue and Wed viewing party.

    Regardless, the Pigs were kind enough to create some local viewing parties with prizes. So thanks to them!

    Go Pigs!

  2. I’d rather not try to fill the seats. The atmosphere of the two playoff games was so intense, and I chalk that up to the fact everyone there was a BASEBALL FAN and not just out for a night’s entertainment. 72 games a year half the attendees are just there for a good time and, hey look a baseball game seems to have broken out.

    Unless the extra 2500 butts in seats plan on standing and cheering until they’re horse all night long, leave the seats empty. Apathy breeds apathy and I’d rather keep the attendance to those who WANT to stand and cheer for every 2 strike count, every rally at bat… basically stand for a good portion of the game.

    60% full of true baseball fans > 98% full, half of which are baseball fans.

    • Yeah, you’re right. The playoff game Saturday in Reading was nothing like the previous two nights in Allentown. On second thought, perhaps they shouldn’t try too hard to fill those seats. I didn’t even stay for the fireworks Friday night, myself…

  3. “Too bad they don’t have a club for middle aged guys…”

    It’s called Noise Nation…..
    (Sorry fellows, I couldn’t resist)

  4. I agree with you 100%. I’d be really annoyed if they gave out free tickets after I paid $9 a game for my seat. Not to mention, I like having people who are there for the baseball — not for the other stuff. And people who get in for free aren’t going to be focused on the game.

    • Yeah, remember my whole post was bourne out of a misunderstanding, but I left it up because the principal was true: free tickets isn’t a good way to fill a stadium. Group sales, gimmicks, goofy promotions, fine (maybe not for the playoffs, as DigitalMariner correctly points out above). Trading, credits, and clubs, fine.

      BTW, I know they’re trying, but they’ve GOT to get the word out that tickets are available. I’ve just had to review with about the 10th person I’ve met today: the games are not sold out (yet). Ticket sales for minor league playoff games are NOT like ticket sales for major league playoff games. Make sure if you know folks who want to go to these games that they go ahead and order their tickets. “Good Seats Are Still Available!” as they say.

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