Monday, March 9, 2009

Bobcats president: "It's a tough economic environment"


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."

20 comments:

Jimmy the Freak said...

I don't think it's the economy as much as the product. The NHL is up in attendance. But, that is an actual sport where there is not a big steroid problem (MLB) or paid off officials (NBA). You also never hear of a player too fat to play(Sean May).

Anonymous said...

What is the NHL?

JAT said...

We really don't get into the specifics of our finances

Bzzt. Fail, Fred.

The minute the Bobcats decided to play in a city-built and city-subsidized arena (no need to pay property tax on the city-owned building) you forfeited any presumed right to operational privacy.

In fact, you have hundreds of thousands of minority partners who pay hospitality taxes to pay off the bonds for the arena who wonder what the flip took the Bobcats so long to actually price for THIS marketplace, not the Manhattan of David Stern's lackeys who were dispatched to boot-strap Bob Johnson's franchise.

In fact, I have a quick and easy test case for you: Until I can walk and pay the same amount -- $71 -- for the same seat from which I watched the NCAA Regional Final last year -- Sect 107, Row 3 -- you are doing it wrong. I see from your website you want $75 for those seats, plus $10 in service charges.

Bzzt. Fail. Again.

JAT

Anonymous said...

OUR team. OUR town. I like it.

Anonymous said...

NHL is national hockey league. Man would I love to be able to afford those discounted season tickets.

Anonymous said...

I just got season tickets in 107/K for next season...new price of $50/game! Get 'em while they last, JAT. Want the name of my guy at the Bobcats?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

The NHL is a much better product...

Anonymous said...

Jus breakin our hearts...

Anonymous said...

They tried to tell Bob Johnson that pro sports was a big money loser irrespective of the economy but he was hardheaded and said he could make big bucks even though George Shinn had left the QC losing 15 million annually in good times.
But then again Johnson was handed a free lunch in the early 80s picked for a govt grant to be a minority cable tv owner and developed his BET but sold out to the whiteman for 22 mill shares of VIA aka CBS in the late 90s and then got lucky to get the new NBA team with a 300 mill new colisium. Now reportedly BJ is almost bankrupt as his VIA stock is almost worthless and he paid 300 mill for the frans fee plus expenses etc.
He needs another handout ... err.. bailout ...

GSO Cats Fan said...

Ticket prices aren't the problem for the Bobcats. Their prices have always been in line with other big-time entertainment events. Go to an NFL game or a NASCAR race or a major concert and you'll pay the same or more. And you can get Bobcats tickets for $5 now - that's cheaper than a movie!

For whatever reason, this region simply hasn't embraced the Bobcats. I'm a big fan of the team, but I'm in the minority. I don't think cutting prices is the answer, but then again, I'm not sure what is.

As for the NHL, I like hockey, too. But it's a sport with a hardcore fan base but little appeal to mainstream sports fans. The NHL isn't going to take an attendance hit because hockey fans are going to buy tickets no matter what. Hockey's problem has been growing the sport beyond its existing die-hard fan base.

Anonymous said...

It sure doesn't help that the BOBCATS are a horrible team. I thought the Wizards were bad...

Geez!

Anonymous said...

How the heck are the bobcats a bad team. They are a game out of the last playoff spot. People need to stop speaking in blogs or forums when you have no idea what you are talking about. If you hate the bobcats then don't read about them or write about them. This is a really good team that in the right match-up if they make the playoffs can win a first round series. Example Hornets vs. Celtics. It can happan again this year.

K-Man

Anonymous said...

So the bobcats will not do what the Minnesota Timberwolves. WHAT A SCAM!

Anonymous said...

how about this....

stop paying your employees SO MUCH that you have to charge SO MUCH for tickets!

or

Give the tickets away and make all your money on the beer sales!

JAT said...

Thanx, 2:27, but I am not looking for a season -- even partial season -- commitment. As such they do not have a product for me. This is what the Bobcat braintrust does not get.

They cannot work the "implied value" side of the equation by setting the single-game prices that much higher than market demand and then "discount" them down for packages.

They'd be better off building a fan base with lower walk-up prices and slightly lower package discounts.

Charlottean said...

I love the Bobcats and the Arena. C'mon everyone...jump on the bandwagon. It's our team!

Anonymous said...

This is what they need to do to get the ball rolling in Charlotte. Hire the hottest, single, American born & bred,in his mid-20s, player in the NBA (irregardless of how well he plays). Do a campaign based on how hot the guy is. Declare Thursday night 'Ladies Night' offering ladies half-priced tickets and half-priced beer and then autograph sessions with the hottie after the game. Where the women go, the men will follow. Games will be packed.

Anonymous said...

JAT - get a clue. you can buy that seat for less than 75 now. they have cut the prices for the rest of the year and will end up doing the same for next year once they assess demand for season tickets.
Not that anyone will really want you there. You'd rather just run your mouth and complain than get informed.

Dan said...

At the website I cofounded, ticketstumbler.com, we aggregate tickets from numerous exchanges and brokers (think Expedia for sports tickets). It's surprising how cheap tickets have gotten. Even with fees included you can see half the league play for $10-$20. Rick Reilly had an article about this as well:

http://sports.espn.go.com/espnmag/story?id=3950727