For the last few seasons, Blackhawk fans (myself included) have made a holiday of taking a road trip to Nashville to see the Blackhawks take on the Predators. Well, it looks like the Predators' organization and fans have grown tired of the sea of red in the stands at Bridgestone Arena.
According to the Predators fan site Section 303, the Preds are going to do their best to keep Hawk fans out of their building. They've introduced a "Keep the Red Out" campaign. The plan itself is simple. No one...not Hawk fans...nor Preds fans...nor Wild fans nor fans of any NHL team will be able to buy a single game ticket to any of the Blackhawks' games in Nashville. If you want a ticket to one of those three games, you're going to have to purchase tickets to a second Predators home game as well.
Smart, right? Who wants their building full opposing fans? Lord knows it sucked when the United Center used to be filled with toothless Red Wing fans. Why didn't Bill Wirtz think of this?
Because Bill Wirtz was a fantastic business man, and loved making money. In fact, he'd (allegedly) give Red Wings fans first dibs at tickets to games at the United Center by selling blocks to Detroit based tour groups.
That's smart business.
While the plan will certainly reduce the number of Hawk fans in the Bridgestone Arena on those dates, it will also reduce the spend happy Chicago tourists in the city. Remember last November when the Bears played the Titans in the Music City? The Bear fans literally drank the city dry. Nashville is becoming a destination for Chicago fans. It's my favorite road city of the half dozen or so I've visited.
While it's nice to keep your fans happy, isn't it worth it to have those seats sold for those three dates? I would think so.
Pandering to fans will only get you so far. The Predators are not making money. Why mess with revenue to keep a couple of meatballs happy?
The plan works for their intended purpose. I was planning on attending a Hawks / Preds game in Nashville with my wife. I can't afford to purchase tickets to a second game, so I won't be going. That's money lost for a Nashville hotel, myriad Nashville bars (Layla's Bluegrass Inn is my personal favorite), and BBQ joints (Jack's...not Rippy's). I wonder how happy those business owners will be with the Predators' plan.
Fans that can afford to lay down that kind of coin will probably just get their tickets on Stub Hub or some other secondary market.
The Blackhawks have proven that winning cures all. More than any marketing gimmick, jersey change or silly pandering plan. If you win it, they will come.
~~ Stick tap to the Chicago Sports site SportsMockery.com for the heads up on this story. Check them out. ~~