The Buffalo Sabres had some major attendance issues last year and other off-the-ice drawbacks, but that too may be improving for the 2022-23 season.
The Buffalo Sabres play in the 53rd largest media market in the United States, making them the NHL’s smallest market among American teams. Las Vegas, 40th in size, is the second-smallest market.
This puts the Sabres behind the eight-ball in reach. Throwing them into relative obscurity when compared to large market teams like the New York Rangers, and Islanders, Toronto Maple Leafs, and New Jersey Devils.
Of the 32 NHL teams, the Sabres rank 29th in value, a far cry behind their cross-border rival, the Maple Leafs. Only the Florida Panthers, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Arizona Coyotes rank lower. So when average attendance fell to 9,997 fans per game last season, it’s safe to say the team was struggling in more places than just the ice.
The Buffalo Sabres are not just improving their product on the ice, but also game day experience
Some point to COVID-19 as the reason behind the lower numbers. But that doesn’t hold water with the rest of the American teams, who saw their attendance surge as restrictions lifted in their respective states.
Further, in 2017-18, ESPN figures show that the Sabres had 16,000 season ticket holders. That number dropped to roughly 6,500 this season. Improved ticket integrity is one such measure the team is taking up, which includes cutting many broker relationships and the number of available comp seats at games.
In turn, the strategy would add value to season tickets, which Biz Journals states the Sabres are looking to turn into a membership program. Such a program would treat fans as though they were part of the organization itself.
The team also aims to make upgrades to the KeyBank Center. Upgrades that are possible given the Sabres recent earnings over the past five seasons from expansion fees in Vegas and Seattle, plus income from TV revenue thanks to contracts with ESPN and Turner Sports. Something USA Today reported were more lucrative than past contracts.
This creates a golden opportunity if you want to get closer to the organization you love. Not only is the team improving on the ice, but with potential upgrades and better season-ticket packages, there may be no better time to be a Sabres fan.
Article Source: Buffalo Sabres exec on rebuilding business with new ticketing, fan strategies by Dan Miner.