Today the Phantoms revealed their home-preseason schedule, to go along with the regular season schedule which was released by the AHL last week for this 2016-2017 All Star Season in the Lehigh Valley.
I noticed a couple of things, and thought of some issues, and put it together with some information that der EishockeyZuschauer told me on SpaceBook–here are some observations, potential problems, and potential solutions I’ve been thinking about:
- A western conference team will be in town for two days for home preseason games.
- But it’s still the same team two days in a row, which may impact ticket sales.
- We play two teams (Hershey and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton) a disproportionate number of times during the regular season.
A Pre-Season Solution
It’s great to see a Western Conference team–Charlotte–in town for the preseason. However, by having the same exact preseason game two nights in a row, I think many fans might decide on going to just one of the two games rather than both. That will hurt attendance for what could be uninspired hockey to begin with.
dE was telling me about a German hockey tradition of a pre-season tournament. Three teams with games over two days, a corporate sponsor, a trophy at the end, and the ability to generate a bunch of interest and excitement over preseason sloppy hockey games involving the same teams. If a team like Charlotte is willing to travel all the way up here for two days, then involve another team and make a whole deal out of it. You could come up with some kind of revenue-sharing system, and fill the arena for two whole days! It would still be preseason hockey, with ECHL players in and out and whatnot in order to evaluate talent and keep legs fresh–but it could work for interest, ticket sales, concession sales, merchandise sales, downtown promotion and a variety of other benefits.
This could be something unique and special to the Allentown Hockey franchise which could be promoted on a national scale each year incorporating interest from the visiting teams’ fan bases and affiliates, much the same way that hosing the All Star Game this season will allow for some extra promotion on a regional and national scale which we don’t normally get.
A Regular Season Solution
The shear number of games pitting the in-state AHL rivals in WB-S, Hershey, and Allentown works against the rivalry that they attempt to create: With so many repeats of the same games I no longer get too excited to see them, as I know there’ll be another coming right up. Also, why travel to Wilkes-Barre or Hershey when you get to see that same match-up dozens of times at the PPL Center right here in town?
An in-season tournament, as above, is the answer. With that many games involving the three teams anyway, why not bunch a few of them together and create a two-day tournament? The sites could rotate hosting, and folks would travel to the away games to see something different of the same-old match-ups. It would intensify the rivalry rather than water it down. And for example you might get to see the Hershey/WBS game in addition to the games involving the Phantoms.
They could pick a unique weekend to hold it–early season Columbus Day Tournament as an opening weekend if the calendar falls correctly? Veteran’s Day Memorial Tournament? Thanksgiving Weekend Tournament? Hold it over the holidays when kids are home from college and many folks take vacation days, in order to book a week day in the schedule? Martin Luther King weekend tournament? There are many options, and again, revenue-sharing could take place and any loss of home games by the visiting teams could be made up the following year(s) when the other teams have an opportunity to host. Or, they could just pick a weekend unique to the tournament when competition from vacations and youth sports and other things might not be as much.
This might not be something unique to Allentown–but would be a Pennsylvania event which would raise the awareness of hockey throughout the state while adding to currently fading rivalries.
Just some thoughts. And thanks again to der EishockeyZuschauer for the original idea.
See you at the arena, soon enough…