Friday, March 30, 2007


Troubling Financial Signs for the Atlanta Thrashers?

by Jes

While the Atlanta Thrashers look to be in a fairly safe position to make the playoffs (a 5-point cushion), David Shoalts of the the Globe and Mail takes a look at the team's financial situation, and sees some troubling signs.

Article Linkage:

Both Waddell and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman say they are not worried about the future of the franchise in Atlanta. But there are troubling signs aside from attendance, which is improving this season but still among the worst in the NHL.

According to my recent post on the matter, Atlanta ranks 21st in home attendance. This is not a surprise, given that Atlanta seems to be a weak market for most of its sports teams in terms of attendance.

The improvement is a whole 500 fans per game.

The Globe and Mail obtained the NHL's private statistics on net gate receipts, ticket giveaways and paid attendance from the start of the season to Jan. 31. They show the Thrashers were among the league's worst in every category.
How did the G&M get private statistics? The NHL must have a motive in mind for releasing these numbers...can you guess what it is?

For example, the Thrashers led the NHL's 30 clubs in the dubious honour of most ticket giveaways each game. The league's numbers show the Thrashers gave away an average of 2,827 tickets a game in their first 25 home games. This appears to be part of a promotional effort this season, as it is a whopping jump of about 840 per cent from last season, when the team's average was 336 a game.
No wonder Greg gets so many freebies :(

Giveaways are understandable in a new market, as a team wants to generate support. One of the best ways to get new hockey fans is to expose them to live games.

Still, 2,827 is way too many free tickets per game...

"Our comp tickets are high and need to come down, no doubt," Waddell said. "But our gate receipts are up this year. That's the important thing." He also argues that the tickets for seats in the luxury suites, which are rented annually, are included in the giveaways because the league has no other category for them.
I'm calling BS on that one.

The league's numbers through 25 games do not support Waddell's contention on gate receipts. League documentation shows that the Thrashers' net gate receipts, after taxes, were an average of $487,890 (all currency U.S.) a game for 25 home games to Jan. 31. That was 26th in the NHL and 0.02 per cent less than last season. The Leafs led the league with $1.514-million a game.

However, the Thrashers say their attendance has improved and is up about 6 per cent overall from last season, although it's not clear whether that figure refers to announced attendance, which the league uses as its official figure for publication, or paid attendance, a figure the league closely guards.
Well, the ESPN attendance is likely announced attendance, as this figure is the one that showed a jump.

"We're in a different [type of] market," Waddell said. "People weren't [angry] last year when we missed the playoffs, they were disappointed. They felt bad we didn't get there and that's why they rallied around us this year.

"So this is a pivotal year for our franchise. People hung in with us all year. We have to see it through."

Not only are the Thrashers near the bottom in attendance — a fact that Waddell says is eased because the club owns the arena — the club's ownership has gone to court to resolve a dispute related to control of the company that owns the hockey team and the Hawks of the National Basketball Association. Bettman tried to broker a settlement this season and failed, meaning the court action will likely continue.

The fact that the teams own the arena is HUGE, and means that the revenue that they earn from beer, hot dogs, concessions, t-shirts, etc...isn't being considered by the G&M and not released by the NHL.

It looks like the same old story of team's crying poor and not declaring all of their true revenue. Is the NHL using the G&M in it's constant PR "we are poor" war? It kinda looks like it. Is the G&M using the information to make a southern franchise look bad? It kinda looks like it.

(thanks to "Progressive Rocker" for the story tip)

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I was gonna write something about this, until my internet access became as rare as Bigfoot. Yeah, way too many freebies. If you can't get into a game for free in Atlanta, you ain't trying.
I'm a new hockey fan and been to about 10-12 games this season. You wanna know how many I BOUGHT the tickets for...? ONE!
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