Are you looking for new ways to fill your stadium or arena to capacity? Are you creating ways for all persons of the community to attend your games?
The Sports Business Journal recently featured an excellent article on the Florida Panthers' new ticket strategy to drive fan attendance. The charge, led by team President Michael Yormark, is offering anyone with a Florida driver's license a chance to see the Panthers play at home... for free.
The team's "First Timer" Program offer the first 250 persons who register for the tickets on the team's website the chance to go to a game for free with a friend. Tickets are based on availability, meaning that the Panthers are sometimes even distributing lower bowl tickets out to the general public for free.
While the move is relatively risky (putting free tickets out into the marketplace), it could pay huge dividends for the franchise, which has been in existence for sixteen (16) years. The team is hoping that the "First Timer" initiative will spark fan attendance, which ranked in the bottom third of the league last year.
The Panthers request that each person who registers for the free tickets online provide their name, address, phone number, e-mail, and drivers license number to be eligible. The team's ticketing department plans to follow up with each of the fans 3-5 days after they attend the game for free to gauge their interest in purchasing tickets to future Panthers home games.
In the end, will the promotion be considered a success? It has yet to be decided but on the first night of the program, the team saw its per cap rise $1.50 from its opening game in 2007, despite consumers feeling cash-strapped in the tight economy. Yormark, however is concerned about the bigger picture - expanding the team's database, increasing the per cap, and getting fans to return with paid admission.