Hockey's Return On Track For Goal.
Cincinnati Post by John Lachmann
Just under 40 percent of
the chart on the Cincinnati
' marker board is shaded.
That means the American
Hockey League team has
sold just under 800 season tickets already,
nearly 40 percent of its goal of 2,000, a figure
team president Pete Robinson said the
need to approach before he makes the decision to
bring professional hockey
back to Cincinnati.
And sales are gaining momentum with two months
remaining in the campaign, which is good for the
team since Cincinnati's affiliation quality will
be impacted by how quickly the
reach their goal, should the AHL return to
"What's really important for the fans to
understand is that unless we receive 2,000
season-ticket commitments -- and it's only $25
(refundable deposit) -- there's not going to be
a team," Robinson said.
And Robinson points to Worcester, which
announced this week it will develop the San Jose
Sharks' prospects next season, because of a
similar successful season-ticket drive.
Worcester not only lost its affiliation, but its
franchise was sold to Peoria. San Jose was
affiliated with Cleveland of the AHL this
Cincinnati already has a franchise, albeit
dormant after the Anaheim Mighty Ducks moved
their players to Portland, Maine, last spring,
leaving Cincinnati without a parent club.
"The whole shuffle of NHL affiliations begins
now," Robinson said. "NHL clubs want to know
where we're at, and so let's say things are
going (decent) here, but we're not sure come the
beginning of March, and then we're in the middle
of March -- the best deals are going to have
gone away already. If it's a last-minute thing,
we may get stuck with the last of the musical
The official announcement of the team's status
will be made sometime in March, Robinson said.
The affiliation agreement could be delayed until
after the affected AHL team is eliminated from
the playoffs, which is what happened to the
Cincinnati Mighty Ducks last season.
announced their season-ticket drive in October,
and after a slow start, sales have taken off.
The team had just 15 percent of its goal, or 300
tickets sold, by the week before Christmas, but
500 season tickets were sold in the month since,
and fans have purchased 50-60 the first three
days of this week.
One of the main reasons for the momentum boost
is the team's advertising campaign. The
ran a newspaper ad, and are regularly showing a
commercial on major television networks, even
taking out a spot during the recent college
football bowl games.
Deposits are $25 for 25- and 40-game packages
(25-gamers count as 5/8 of a full-season ticket
toward to 2,000 goal), and the balance can be
paid in installments. The small minority of fans
that put down deposits but do not follow through
with season-ticket payments are already
accounted for in the team's tracking statistics.
Upper level and end zone seats are $450 each for
all 40 games, $300 for the 25-game package -- an
average of $11.25 and $12, respectively -- while
lower level seats are $540 and $360, or $13.50
and $14.40 per game. All full and partial
season-ticket packages are 20-25 percent cheaper
than individual game tickets.
"The most encouraging thing for me right now is,
of the business we've written, almost 50 percent
of it is new business," said vice president of
communications Don Helbig, who has volunteered
to put on a sales hat temporarily to help bring
Robinson said he will talk with NHL teams, AHL
president David Andrews and the AHL Board of
Governors during the AHL All-Star break Jan.
30-Feb. 2 about his team's status.
So what the
consider a successful pace heading into those
"I can't answer that, I don't know, I've never
been down this road before," Robinson said. "But
certainly to be between 1,000 and 1,200 would be
a good number -- maybe we're a little bit less,
maybe we're a little bit more -- I don't know."
The San Jose-to-Worcester move could be the
first a rampant set of affiliation changes in
the following months, giving Cincinnati a large
pool of potential suitors. Cleveland's resulting
departure from the AHL leaves Chicago as
Cincinnati's closest opponent, which will
significantly drive up the
' travel costs.
"My travel bill will be 2-to-3 times what some
of the teams up east are," Robinson said.
"People wonder why we need these deposits --
that's why. We already know that there's no
Lexington, there's no Louisville, there's no
Operating costs will likely be $3.5-$4 million
next season, Helbig said.
The Columbus Blue Jackets have been rumored as
an affiliate with Cincinnati for next season,
though Columbus would need to get out of its
mutual option year with Syracuse for that to
happen. New Jersey, Chicago, Edmonton, Florida,
Colorado, and Montreal are among other possible
parent teams for the
"Whatever affiliate we have, we're not going to
make everyone happy," Robinson said. "Heck, I'd
love to have the Montreal Canadiens here as a
fan, I'm probably the only one (here) that can
tell you that."