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Inside the Organization: Preds President Sean Henry Radio Interview on 104.5 The Zone

by Staff Writer / Nashville Predators
Sean Henry, president and COO of the Nashville Predators, was recently interviewed on 104.5 The Zone’s business segment. Several topics were discussed, including the benefits of playoff hockey, tremendous fan support, translating the team’s success into season tickets sales, the challenge in scheduling games in such a busy arena and the increasing respect the team is receiving from national and international media.

104.5: Exciting times for the franchise, tell us about it.
Sean Henry: It’s a fun time of year. You’re up 3 to 1. The first two playoff games had very little red, and I think Friday will be another example of maturation for our franchise.

104.5:  How do you make everything work with season ticket push?
Sean Henry: We are where we want to be. Five years ago when the franchise was saved, we knew this day would come. The only way to get tickets to Friday’s game is by being a season ticket holder next year. Leveraging playoffs into a galvanized fan base is what we need and want to do to continue to establish this franchise.

104.5: 22 sellouts this year (25, interjects Sean)!
Sean Henry:  It’s fun when the players are discussing that there is a sellout rather than business writers wondering if there are 14,000 in the building. Once we get fans in once or twice, we know we will have them hooked. There is nothing like playoff hockey to get fans excited and in the building.

104.5: How are individual sponsorships sold, and what are some of the playoff revenue streams?
Sean Henry: Our sponsors can take their message and make them more focused for the playoffs. You can put your brand on top of the extreme excitement being created - example: gold T-shirts.

Bridgestone renewed their deal two to three years early, and Nissan has furthered their brand. The playoffs make it a little bit easier to make that brand known.

104.5: What are franchises doing to combat ticket brokers?
Sean Henry: This is how you see visiting fans flooding arenas. Ten years ago scalping became legal. During the playoffs, we try to lock people into long-term commitments. We still do $10 day-of tickets where one guy can only buy two tickets. With scalpers, we get 50 people who have a fake ticket, and there is nothing they can do. Whether it is online or in person, the best way to get a ticket is through a sales rep.

104.5: What is tough about scheduling games with concerts and other events?
Sean Henry: When we get to April, May, June, we try not to book events on back-to-back dates. We have more shows than we’ve ever had before. It’s exciting when we have to talk to the league every day about how we will lay games out. Going from music to hockey to music is great.

104.5: Tell us about the dehumidifier.
Sean Henry: We brought one in for the last game of season and now have six. We will install permanent dehumidifiers for future seasons. Our goal is to give players consistent ice in front of the fans.

104.5: How much does a long run in the playoffs help the bottom line of the franchise?
Sean Henry: It doesn’t for each round. What happens is it sets you up for legacy sales for five to six years. The memories and attachment is what does it. A lot of money goes to revenue-sharing of the league, so the best part is growing the fans in the building.

104.5: What pride do you and CEO Jeff Cogen take of the ambiance in the arena?
Sean Henry: It’s always been here. I think the national and international audiences are taking note because of our wins in last year’s playoffs. It’s nice to hear the hockey experts say how great the games are here, and we want to build the legacy.

You just don’t read the negative articles as much. It’s like the Canadian media from Vancouver came down and realized this is a growing market, and there is just not much to criticize.

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