Thursday, April 06, 2006


Vancouver: Non-Tradtional Market?

Something over at Mike Chen's blog caught my eye... Is Vancouver a non-traditional market?

The question is, of course, a bit facetious and not to be taken seriously. My remark comes only on the heels on the remarks of David Pratt from Vancouver's Team 1040 sports radio. Pratt mentioned that fans were flocking from the Canucks bandwagon, and it's gotten to a point where ticket scalpers have to sell below face value. Pratt theorizes that if things get worse, the Canucks could face half-empty crowds similar to the early 1980s Pacific Coliseum days -- an exagerration, but you get his point.

Bandwagoners leaving? Scalpers facing demand problems? Possible attendance crisis for next season? Why, that sounds like the signs of all of those horrible non-traditional market teams. Get them out of the league! Off with your head, Florida and Nashville! No place for you, Carolina and Tampa Bay! But wait, this is Vancouver -- a Canadian team! Could it be that...they're just experiencing the same fan frustrations that come whenever a team is inconsistent? Could it be that any potential attendance problems are strictly tied to performance?
Attendance tied to performance? Why, I've never heard of such a concept! *giggles*

Is Vancouver a good hockey town? Oh, yes. One need look only at the raging success that was the World Junior Championships and support for our WHL Vancouver Giants to know that Vancouver is definitely a town that likes its hockey.

Does Vancouver have its share of bandwagon fans? What city doesn't? Toronto, Montreal, Boston, and even San Jose have 'fans' who attend or pay attention to hockey games only when the team is good.

Does Vancouver have a very large share of bandwagon fans? Oh, hell yeah! In a city with as many shallow people and character-free generic concrete towers, one could only expect a rather large % of the population is prone to disowning the Canucks once the going gets tough.


A large portion of the 'fans' you'll see at GM Place are the "Yaletown"/Yuppie crowd, just like in the picture above (an actual ad by our transit authority regarding Yaletown. I kid you not).

You have the ditzy dyed-blonde airhead with the ankle-biter bitch dog together with some oblivious, self-important, metrosexual techno-dweeb who's yakkin on the cell phone about something unimportant. On the left? That guy laid off 150 people today and is on his way to celebrate with a pedicure.

To these folks, the Canucks are a fad and a fashion. Going to GM Place is the 'cool' thing to do, and they can afford to lay down thousand of dollars for season tickets and Ice Packs. Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi are demi-gods and Ed Jovanovski is the best defenseman, like EVAR!

Don't expect them to explain the offsides rule to you, because they won't have a clue. They don't follow the sport. They follow only the team.

I have a family member who is exactly like this. Growing up, he didn't give a lick or show an iota of interest in hockey. Then, the Canucks got quite good and suddenly he's hooked on every game and a dedicated fan.

Once the Canucks start sucking again (and they probably will), expect this 'core' of fans to abandon GM place and find something else that is 'cool' to do. Maybe we'll go back to the old days where I'd have pretty much an entire row in the upper section to myself. Granted, I wouldn't spend $$ during the Mike Keenan years (my tickets were free!), but this city is pretty pathetic when it comes to hopping on and off the wagon.

Other factors:

1. This city is just plain pessimistic!! It must be the rain and the constant dreary grey sky in the winter, but people here are generally miserable and fear the worst. Unlike the lemmings Leafs fans, we don't tend to delude ourselves into thinking we'll get X player or win Y amount of games. A 2-game losing streak is enough to send the masses into panic mode.
(One need only read Tom Benjamin's blog to get a good sense of the 'Negative Fan' in Vancouver)

2. The Media - Canadian hockey media is the proverbial fishbowl, but Vancouver has to be one of the worst (just ask Pavel Bure). The reporters here are negative, vicious, and very small-minded. Idiots like Tony Gallagher, Dave Pratt, and Neil MacRae (I haven't heard from him in years, thankfully) feel the need to beat down the Canucks and even make personal attacks and monger rumours to give them some false sense of self-esteem.

The media, like the fans, is extremely reactive and the mood swings here wildly. Even for a 'moderate' and composed guy such as myself, it's hard not to get caught up in it all sometimes. You hear enough negative crap and you can't filter it all out...just like second-hand smoke.

3. Even if the attendance at GM Place falls short, we have the TV numbers to make up for it. When Nashville and them aren't getting good in-house attendance, they don't have the TV numbers and merchandise sales and general interest to prop up the team like they do in Vancouver. The Canucks make good money on their radio deal because they can. True 'non-traditional' markets have to beg radio stations to carry their games.

So, Vancouver is a good hockey market, but also has a large number of lousy 'fans'. Call the Canucks fans bandwagoning airheads all you like, because I won't dispute it. (there are exceptions to every rule, of course)

(oh, and d00d...David Pratt? WTH? Why waste your time with that crap?)

Definitely a good point about the TV ratings. I just wanted to throw out there that some people think waning attendance is ok in some cities but not ok in other cities when the majority of that, in a gate-driven business like the NHL, depends on success. Sometimes, pundits are so quick to say that a market is bad that they forget to look at team performance.

By the way, I think Pratt's a moron, but I think Don Taylor's pretty funny and I like the Hockey Hour with Ray Ferraro. That's what happens when you watch too much NHL 2Night with John Buccigross, Ferraro, and Barry "The Mullet" Melrose.
I love the Yaletown ad.

As somebody who was born and raised in the Vancouver suburbs (Burnaby) and in the right age bracket (I attended the same high school as Joe Sakic in Burnaby - but a few years after him), I know Yaletown. I no longer live in Vancouver but I have to go to Yaletown when I come back to town to visit a significant percentage of high school friends.

That ad looks so much like its a parody that its awesome.
Does support of other hockey teams make it a good NHL city though?

Florida, Charlotte and Gwinnett all have good attendance in the ECHL (#1, 3 and 6 respectively in the league), but I don't hear anyone calling them good hockey regions because of it. I'm not saying that's all that counts, and I'm not saying Vancouver should be discredited for it, just saying the situation is the same in many places that take a lot of heat for lack of fan support.
and what is wrong with bandwagon fans?!?! I'm not one in hockey or baseball, but am somewhat in football. definately in college basketball (and wont touch pro basketball for anything).

the whole point about fandom is you need hard cores, you need strong fans, you need week fnas, and you need preppy little yahoos who only show up to drink some white wine and hange out in the parking lot smoke areas.

as a hard core hockey fans i love bandwagon/weak ones, it is the reason teams will often get a "star", the reason several times care at all about winning, and sharply devide the experience of watching a winner and watching a loser (which is NOT a bad thing).

if there were no bandwagon fans there would be a heck of a lot MORE blackhawks and panthers, not less


keep the hardcore.

balance in all things...
Hey, Tom Benjamin is negative about everything!!!
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