Predators’ Lang: We can do better in attendance

Thursday, December 20, 2007 at 12:41am

It has been a little over week since Ed Lang was named president of business operations for the Nashville Predators, but he feels like he has dealt with a year’s worth of work.

Lang has been with the Predators since the franchise was in its initial formation stage. He has seen what has worked and what hasn’t especially in the area of ticket sales to both the corporate segment as well as for individual fans. He has plans to possibly reinstate some of the things that worked, but he is also seeking new ways to bring new fans to the Sommet Center.

“We are evaluating the Premium Plus pricing program,” Lang said. “We haven’t made any decisions, but that is definitely something we are looking at closely.

“The other thing we have going is that we have set up a marketing committee that is made up of people in the community that could maybe help us with marketing ideas. We can also bounce ideas off of them.”

Members of that group include Ron Samuels, CEO of Avenue Bank; and Ralph Schulz, president and CEO of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, who were both part of the “Our Team” season ticket effort for the Predators in the summer and fall.

“We also have a former sales executive and a former chief marketing officer in that group,” Lang said. “Both have been successful. They are all helping us look at things in different perspective.”

While most of the strategies are in the planning stages, he has wasted no time using members of the local ownership group to talk with various businesses about ticket sales.

“Our local owners all have a lot of contacts in this community,” Lang said. “That is one of the biggest things. You have to be able to get in front of the right people in an organization to talk to them about their product, what we can do for them and how they can best use our tickets.”

Both Tom Cigarran and David Freeman, the chairman of the local group, have met face-to-face with prospects. They are also helping the ticket and marketing departments open doors that may have been previously closed.

“We have had some success with the new owners going with us on sales calls,” Lang said. “Tom went on a couple of sales calls with us and Tuesday we got a call from one of those companies that is going to buy 1,000 for a group night at one game.

“David Freeman has met a couple of former sponsors. They have an interest in getting back in with us. I think a lot of these people like the newness and freshness of a new, local group of people coming in to own the team. There is kind of a renewed sense of pride. They are taking the time to listen to us and we are having some success.”

While the 14,000 per-game paid attendance average was a part of the old lease agreement, attendance numbers are important in terms of revenue sharing. Lang thinks the Predators could move well beyond the 14,000 level.

“Last year through the regular season were at 13,500,” Lang said. “Our second season we were averaging 15,300. We were OK, but were by no means a playoff team. And we had no big-name players. I can’t see why we can’t get back to the 15,000 level with the exciting team we have now.”

The Predators have already discounted group sales ticket pricing a move that Lang is hopeful will help show attendance increases in late January or February.

“We are trying to do things quickly, but we are also taking our time to plan things out,” Lang said. “We have a loyal, great base of fans. We need to reach out to more fans whether they are business owners, corporations or individuals.”

In addition to ticket sales, Lang has also been heavily involved in the hiring of some new personnel. Three members of the sales and marketing department have left including vice president Steve Violetta. With so much of the past several months hanging in an almost limbo situation because of the sale of the team by Craig Leipold, Lang is also spending time with staff members and helping to renew their enthusiasm.

Predators fans have three more opportunities to see the team at home before the end of 2007. The Los Angeles Kings visit the Sommet Center Saturday night. The Columbus Blue Jackets visit Dec. 27 and the San Jose Sharks are in town Dec. 29.

PREDS FALL AGAIN: The Predators lost in Chicago to the Blackhawks on Wednesday 5-2. The loss was the fifth straight for the Predators and seventh of their last eight games overall. J.P. Dumont and Radek Bonk each had power-play goals for the Predators.

ALL-STAR COUNT: Based on the latest reports on balloting to the 2008 NHL All-Star Game in Atlanta, Predators center Jason Arnott is rated 11th among forwards in the Western Conference in fan voting with 93.254 votes. Center David Legwand is 31st with 10,419.

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By: BigPapa on 12/31/69 at 6:00

They tried to guilt people into buying tickets. The corporations that had tickets when this things started quickly dropped them when the titans came to town and they realized they couldn't give the tickets away to their employees. You combine the low level of interest along with the poor play as of late and it looks like a very tough sell.

By: Cowboy84 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Not if they play like they did last night, that was pitiful.

By: idgaf on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Hope the council don't give these clowns the money.

By: junebugfan on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Uh,oh - what's that noise I hear in the distance?? Could it be?? YES!! It's the sound of the old 104.5 Plaster whining & chastising "Guilt Train Campaign" engines churning to life once again! "Buy Preds tickets......BUY Preds tickets...BUY Preds tickets.BUY Preds tickets.TOOT!TOOOOT! ALL ABOOOOARD!!! She's gaining speed!

By: BigPapa on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I'd be p!ssed if I found out my employer had spent a large amount of money on Preds tickets instead of giving each employee a small bonus, or re-invested the money into the business.

By: jasonweaver on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Wow it's interesting to see folks out there that don't like progress and hate sports.

By: producer2 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

jasonweaver,really it's not interesting and with most of these folks, old news. If you got something to hate they will find it....

By: junebugfan on 12/31/69 at 6:00

jasonweaver, the issue isn't one of "hating sports" as you put it, but of the continual "whining" of Nashville's small community of hockey supporters, who refuse to accept the fact that this sport isn't and never will be, anything more than a cult following in our city, and therefore they continue to try and find new ways to get their own fans to buy tickets "or else". One of their most used tactics is to threaten to leave if a "quota" isn't met. The tactic that has myself as well as (I presume)other non-fans upset is the one of having local sports radio spend ALL of their time begging, complaining, whining, & chastising the locals for not buying tickets. Yes, they've actually used the words "You should be ashamed of yourselves..." on many occasions. I do like sports - just not this one, and I don't like the music that's available on the radio these days, so I listen to sports talk exclusively. I'm just tired of the guilt campaign. It's just getting very old & monotonous after ten years of it, kinda' like listening to the adults speaking on "Charlie Brown" cartoons.Yes, I know there are two sports stations, and I listen to the other one most of the time, but I also hate commercials, so I tend to swap back and forth. I don't like hockey (Yes, I have been to a Preds game, against my will-couldn't take any more after two periods so we left in the pouring rain and walked to Demos.), but it's none of my business if YOU like it, that's great - just don't overtake the airwaves w/ your endless guilt campaign, and don't keep pumping my tax dollars into it in a failed attempt to keep it afloat. One of my favorite sports is NASCAR, although it isn't what it used to be, and I know it's not universally accepted as a "sport". If they ever brought a Cup race to Nashville, I wouldn't launch a radio campaign to try to "guilt" locals into buying tickets. (Not that it would need it) I know it's not the same thing, selling out one or two races as opposed to however many hundreds or thousands of hockey games the Preds season consists of, but it's just an illustration.

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Different day, same posters, same crap.Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!

By: junebugfan on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Yup, just like the campaign.

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Here's some advice June, don't like it, don't listen. Get it?Freedom is a wonderful thing.

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

gdiafante, they keep Kleenex in business.

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 6:00

No kidding. I can't stand baseball, so if Plaster and the boys start talking about it I just change the station. It's really very simple.

By: frank brown on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Titans tickets are a must in the Christmas stockings of at least a few people. I polled some people at my club to see if they had ever been to a Predators game. I was astonished to find out that only about 1 out 10 had ever been..I am the only one with personal season tickets. Two said that they authorized their companies to buy tickets for customer use..Not many takers.

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Right. Hello troll.

By: junebugfan on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Good point, gdiafante. I just like to get on here and whine about it for your entertainment. I actually enjoy seeing people still whining about attendance numbers. Hey - I didn't write the article - I just responded to it because I enjoy whining too! TITAN1 - were you talking about ME needing a tissue, or Plaster & his boys, the newspaper, the mayor, and the local media as a whole? My tears are fake -not so sure about theirs!

By: Cowboy84 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Companies have tickets, the thing the Preds say they have to have, and they can't give them away?! I used to believe hockey would work here but if Frank is right, the Preds may not be long for Music City.