The Charlotte Bobcats will be nodding to the economy in a letter heading out to season-ticket holders later this week.
We wrote last week about the Minnesota Timberwolves innovative no-risk pledge - giving season-ticket holders a refund on all games that haven't been played if the ticket holder loses his or her job in 2009. The Bobcats won't be duplicating the Wolves' pledge, but the team will be offering lower prices and new incentives for season-ticket holders.
That offer is going out tomorrow or Wednesday, President and Chief Operating Officer Fred Whitfield told the Squeeze moments ago. Here's what the letter will say:
Prices on season-tickets will be going down an average of 17 percent, with some tickets going down as much as 25 percent. Season-ticket holders who renew early also will enter a sweepstakes for prizes such as a trip on the team plane, with a stay in the team hotel, for a 2009-2010 road game. Other prizes include lunch and practice with General Manager Rod Higgins, and a golf outing with former Charlotte Hornet Dell Curry.
Season-ticket holders also will get a 5 percent credit toward single-game purchases if they pay in full by April 30, which means that if you purchase a $10,000 season-ticket package, you get $500 worth of free single-game seats. Pay in thirds by April 30 and the credit is 3 percent.
"We certainly understand it's a tough economic environment out there," Whitfield said. "We've done everything we could to be sensitive to that."
The Bobcats currently have 7,000 season-ticket holders. Whitfield would like to see that number reach 10,000. The team currently ranks 27th out of 30 NBA teams in attendance
Whitfield said the team hasn't set prices on partial-season packages or single-game seats. Those numbers will come closer to next season. The team is, however, offering a 72-hour sale on single-game tickets this season beginning tonight. Season-ticket holders were offered an earlier chance at the sale. For details on that sale, go to ticketmaster.com.
"We're going to constantly look at things to be sensitive to what people are going through," he said.
Like their fans, the Bobcats face a difficult economy in Charlotte, but also a sports landscape that's already threatening the financial health of franchises and leagues. (ESPN's Peter Gammons reported this morning that Major League Baseball is warning its clubs that attendance could be down 17-20 percent in 2009, perhaps more.)
Attendance is down league-wide in the NBA, which is now seeing teams offer single-game two-for-one specials. Owners, searching for more revenue streams, also have repealed a ban on courtside liquor ads.
Earlier this month, The SportsBusiness Journal reported that the NBA secured $175 million in financing that will be made available to 15 teams, supplementing an existing $1.7 billion league-wide credit facility.
"We really don't get into the specifics of our finances," Whitfield said. "But I will say that it's a sign of confidence in the NBA that in this tough economic time, this credit line was offered to the league."
Monday, March 9, 2009
Posted by pstonge at 1:10 PM