Senators president Cyril Leeder joined Ian Mendes and Shawn Simpson on TSN 1200 Thursday afternoon and gave a series of updates on the Senators hockey club. Here's what he had to say...
On tickets that will be available for sale on Sept. 5:
This year it's single game tickets for every game of the year. We've got them all available, it's a bit of a departure from the past but it's partly in response to fan requests and partly in response to managing around ticket brokers, re-sellers, scalpers, that seem to have tickets on-sale before we have them. We want to make sure we're out there selling tickets for every game. Tomorrow (Sept. 5) starting at 10 a.m. fans can buy our tickets for every game this year.
On the Hometown Tour:
I should give credit where it's due. Aaron Robinson who's our head of community and fan development has been pitching this idea for a while and did all the heavy lifting on it. It was a really big hit. We got to 12 different communities over six days over a two week period. It was really great. The players enjoyed it, we enjoyed it, we'll certainly be doing it again in the future. We called it our Hometown Tour and it was a big hit. It has been a long time between games. Some summers I wish the summer would last a little longer and some summers I'm anxious to get back to hockey and this is one of those summers where I can't wait to drop the puck for the first game.
On ticket pricing:
We've done some new things this year and we're returning with our Subway Zone and our Coke Zone — those are the most affordable and best priced tickets in Canada for NHL hockey so of course we're bringing those back. Those will go on sale tomorrow and tickets start at $15.61. There's some new things this year as well. If you buy a ticket at a Canadian Tire outlet for a pre-season game you get the ticket, you get access to our Fan Fest which is Sept. 27 and a voucher for one of our Kyle Turris bobbleheads. Bobbleheads are back this year. We'll have five of those — one you can only get at Fan Fest and four at four games during the year. Fans can start buying those games tomorrow. It's November, December, January and March games that they'll see bobbleheads are available for. The game packs are back, these are three game plans and this year they're totally flexible. In past years you'd pick games from a category so you may take a Montreal game and take two other games from a different classifications. This year you pick the games and depending on which games you pick you're priced out accordingly. Lots of good things from a fan perspective and we're certainly not shy of saying we have the best prices of any team in Canada and we're happy to do that and deliver that to our fans.
On the schedule:
What allowed us to make some significant changes to our schedule were our broadcasts arrangement— both the national agreement and we were able to redo our deal locally. Obviously you guys (TSN 1200) are our radio partner and have been for a long time but we're moving over to TSN and RDS this year. The combination of the new League deal and our own deal gave us more flexibility on nights. We're happy to deliver 12 Saturday home games this year which is the most in at least 10 years, maybe the most ever, and nine of those games are night games and that was a real ask from our fans was they wanted more Saturday and Saturday night games. We've been able to deliver on that and I think from a schedule perspective the games are spread out so there isn't one month where we're dominating. Last year we had 12 home games in November which is a tough month for us to start the year. It's a much better schedule and the prices will change as demand goes up so the best time to buy is in the next few weeks. If they're interested in getting the high demand games I would recommend they get on our site and get those tomorrow. They go on sale at 10 a.m.
On forthcoming transformations to Canadian Tire Centre:
We're calling them transformations because they're very significant and the short answer is no, the major transformations we need a full year to talk to our season seat owners and suite owners about those. There will be some that will be displaced and move and others that will want to move into these areas. We'll launch those in October and start communicating them, marketing them and selling them throughout the year and we'll do the work next summer to have them ready for the fall of 2015. There are a number of new things that will be available this year for our fans and one of the biggest things we'll be doing is our opening night and opening weekend on-ice, in-game entertainment. I think the show will be the best one we've had ever in terms of opening weekend and I think there will be other physical improvements that fans will notice when they get to the building.
On the plans for a supporters section:
We are for sure and you can never please every body. Some people don't like loud music, some people don't think it's loud enough, this is kind of an attempt to desensitize that and put it one location and allow the fans that want to be rowdy and have a good time more of a European hockey atmosphere. This is common in Europe. It's been said that Djurgardens in Sweden have the best fans in the world and the reason is they're standing and cheering the whole game. That's not the North American style and I think if we tried to do that in our building we'd be disappointed with the results but we're going to start with one section this year for 10 games. Our supporters in the Red Scarf Union are helping us with that and if people are interested in being part of those games and having a good time and bringing that European hockey mentality to Ottawa we encourage them to get in touch with the Red Scarf Union. We've given them access to tickets at a great price so they can pass those on to people and really have a great time in those sections. We hope to start that this year and build on it each year and if we can get one section really rocking then maybe next year we can expand that to two or more sections.
On growing the supporter culture:
We've talked about that as well but again, it's one step at a time. When we know we've got a good section there and people are taking to it a theme song has to be part of the longer term strategy. Right now we just want to get enough critical mass in the section that people are noticed and having a good time and feel some energy from being part of that group and that section.
On Fan Fest:
We think it's our best one ever and we've been doing some version of Fan Fest for a number of years, trying to get better each year and trying to pick the best things from other teams. This year we'll be having an open house, open practices, the guys will be having a scrimmage, the $10 ticket includes a bobblehead for the Kyle Turris giveaway — the only way to get that is to be at Fan Fest — and obviously outside we'll have a number of activities. We'll have our tent sale for used equipment, I know people look forward to getting in and getting some memorabilia or if you're a beer league guy getting some Senators gear to wear during your beer league. It's a really great event, there are more details on our website. It's Sept. 27, things are going to get started in the morning around 9 a.m. and will wrap up in the afternoon and from a fan and family perspective it'll be a great event to be at. There's also a fan opportunity to do some interviews where they can interview players after the games. It's something new we're trying as well.
On where fans can pick up tickets outside of online:
They can call our line at 599-3267 and we also have a toll-free number (877) 788-3267 or at any of our outlets at participating Canadian Tire stores in the Ottawa area and in Perth. Our Sens Store at Carlingwood Mall and Place D'Orleans or any Ottawa Sports Experts location and in Hull at Galeries de Hull.