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TICKETS: KEEPING IT STRAIGHT

by Staff Writer / Carolina Hurricanes

RALEIGH (July 20, 2001) -- Consider this… 12,000-plus season tickets. That’s a large number unto itself. But when you consider that several thousand of those season tickets are split into seven different mini-plans, things could get confusing.

For the Hurricanes, the man with the plan is Director of Ticket Sales Scott Tippins. In the coming weeks Tippins and the ticket operations staff led by Mike Gilsenan will meticulously accommodate and assign seats to the hundreds of 21, 14 and 7-game mini-season ticket holders.

“To encourage people to buy the largest package, either a full season tickets or a 21-game plan, we decided to let them select their seat location,” said Tippins. “Anybody who placed a deposit for a 21-game plan, we are going to invite them out to the Arena August 13th, 14th or 15th and they’ll be invited based on when they placed their deposit.”

During the Hurricanes’ NHL All-Star Crusade – the ticket drive aimed at raising the team’s season ticket base to 12,000 – Tippins and his staff held Select-a-Seat nights for full season ticket depositors. Now, it’s time to move on to the mini plans.

“People who are renewing their 21-game plan from last year will get the first appointments (to the coming Select-A-Seat nights),” said Tippins. “They can come out and select their seats. All of the seats that are available for 21-game plans will have tags on them. Starting at 6 p.m., we’ll invite 30 or 40 accounts per half-hour, they’ll come upstairs, I’ll talk with them quickly, explain to them what’s going to happen and the we’ll let them inside the building to select their seats. We’ll do that from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.”

Following the assignment of 21-game plans, Tippins and his staff will then begin work on seven and 14-game plans.

“For the sevens and 14s we’re going to send a mailing asking, ‘OK, here are the three 7-game plans, indicate which one you would like?’” said Tippins. “Then, they will list details as to their seating preferences. They’ll put something like, ‘Section 114 as low as possible on the aisle.’ So, when we get all of those back we separate them into stacks – this 7-game plan, this seven and this seven – and then, based on when they placed their deposit, we’ll assign them a seat location based on their preference.”

Trying to assign 12,000-plus seats in like manner seems like a daunting task. For people who have never seen a Ticketmaster screen, it looks something like this.

114
AA - - - – - - - - - -
BB - - - – 0 - - 0 - -
CC - - 0 0 - - - 0 0 -
DD - - 0 0 - - - 0 - -
EE - - - – - - - 0 0 0
FF 0 0 – - - - 0 0 -
GG - - 0 0 - - - 0 0 0
HH - - 0 0 - - - - - -
II 0 0 - - - - - - 0 0
JJ - - - – - - 0 0 - -
KK 0 0 0 – - - - 0 - -

The 0s represent open seats while the dashes are sold seats. That confusing jumble up there represents 11 rows – about 110 seats – of one section at the Entertainment and Sports Arena. Could you imagine keeping up with 18,730 seats for a 41-game season?

Then imagine what things must be like for playoff games when you do not have a four-month off-season to prepare! But, Tippins says there are rarely problems.

“With Ticketmaster, very rarely do you run into a double-sell situation where you’ve got the same ticket out there to two different people,” said Tippins. “With what we’re doing with 7s, 14s and 21s – if I have a 14-game plan I’ll have my same seats for one 7-game plan and there’s a chance I might have the same seats for the other 7-game plan, but I’ll probably get another location for the other seven.”

Here is an image of a 2001-02 Hurricanes ticket, designed in-house and soon to go to print. Tippins says the ticket books should be ready by early September.

“Season ticket holders should look to receive their tickets sometime at the beginning of September,” said Tippins. “They will be sent out, UPS again, most likely. This year we plan to give them the option of coming by and picking them up or mailing them. That hasn’t been finalized, but we’re working on it. Last year we had some problems with people having to go to UPS to pick-up their tickets because UPS left a slip on their door. That’s a hassle for some people so, we’re going to try to avoid that by offering that they can come pick them up. It was a real problem the last couple of years because we weren’t getting the booklets out until a couple of days before the first pre-season game and we were really scrambling. This year I think we’re ahead of the curve. We’ve got them designed, we’re using a different printing company, so those problems should be avoided.”

Well, thankfully Tippins and his staff have things down pat and Hurricanes fans can rest easy knowing their seat is waiting for them.

Carolina Hurricanes Website Reporter Kyle S. Hanlin can be reached at kyleh@carolinahurricanes.com.

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