We initially talked about this a few days ago, but since the news broke that the Syracuse Crunch is going to be the home team at the AHL Showcase in Washington D.C. vs. the Hershey Bears, despite the Bears being the farm team of the Capitals, other info has come to light that I really wanted to talk about.
First of all, Crunch season ticket holder Adam Rotella revealed the reason behind the Crunch being the home team (besides the Bears just not wanting to lose a home date): there’s apparently an insane difference in the amount each team was going to be charged to use the building as the home team. Rotella recently attended a Hershey Bears radio talkshow, and heard there that the Bears would have been charged hundreds of thousands of dollars to use the facility as the home team. The Crunch, on the other hand, was supposedly charged way, way under $100,000.
From what I’ve been told from a different source, teams do get charged to use a facility for a game like this. Whether the difference is that big depending on the team isn’t known beyond what was reported from that show. I’d love to know what the real deal is. But, either way, no wonder the Bears were so eager to see the Crunch take this bullet: not only do the Bears spare themselves the anger of their season ticket holders (STH), they also might be avoiding an enormous price tag.
Second of all, I also found out the official compensation offered to STH as a result of losing this home game. I don’t get any of the information sent to the STH, as the tickets are in my friend’s name, so I usually end up getting things second hand. In this case, it was our former writer Dave who let me know this little gem:
How do you feel that the bus ride isn’t even free now? $15 for season ticket holders! Letter about it with my renewal notice about our “complimentary” ticket to the game in Washington and $15 bus ride w/ free lunch.
When the news originally broke on this, Howard said to the Post Standard that he was either going to offer STH a free bus ride or a free comp ticket to a game in Syracuse. Now, it looks like the STH are being told we have to pay $15 to ride a bus and be satisfied with a free lunch, or get a free comp ticket to a game in Syracuse. Also, notice Dave’s quotes around “complimentary”? They’re there because he, like I, feels that we already paid for that ticket, so there shouldn’t be anything complimentary about it.
My issues with this are numerous. Ready?
- As I said, there is nothing complimentary about offering a “free” ticket to a game we’ve already paid for in a season ticket package (that, by the way, went up in price this year). And, if they’re anything like the “free” tickets STH were given for the outdoor game, they’ll be located nowhere near places STH will actually want to sit. Our “free” tickets to the outdoor game were so bad we spent most of the game watching the screens.
- The team is now telling us that not only did we pay for 38 games, we now, if we choose to go to this game, have to pay a $15 traveling fee to ride a bus 13 hours in one day with a hockey game in between, which is, I’d assume, more time than most of us spend getting to 13 regular Crunch home games combined.
- There is, of course, a choice not to go to this game, but the alternative offer is a free ticket to a game in Syracuse for one of our friends or family. Or, I suppose you could take your mortal enemy, but either way, you will not, in any way, be able to use money that we already spent on ourselves…well…on ourselves.
I’ve spoken to several STH over the past few days that very much wish the whole free ticket compensation thing would just disappear. The fact of the matter is, many of us don’t take people to Crunch games without having them pay us for the ticket. Sure, we take advantage of one of our “perks” as a STH and use the discounted price, but there’s still some kind of exchange. Probably very few of us actually buy these tickets for our friends and family without getting paid for them somehow. Like one STH said, we all already go with people who go to the games. We don’t need to go with anyone else!
I realize that this problem with the Showcase might be bigger than the Crunch. If the AHL as a league has a large part in holding this Showcase every year, then it’s very unfortunate that it falls to the teams to make this right with their STH. I know that isn’t the base-case scenario for these teams, but, the fact of the matter is, it’s their job to make it right.
(Hey, I admit it when we need to fix things, even when it’s 11:00 at night.)
I’ve just been informed by a reputable source that the Showcase isn’t a league event, which is something I obviously didn’t realize and am very glad I now do. It’s simply an off-site game that’s called the AHL Showcase even though the league doesn’t actually sponsor the event.
Our beat writer has claimed all kinds of “benefits” to participating in this thing that I just don’t see. National exposure? The Crunch has proven they can get that without losing a home game. Players getting to play in an NHL arena? That’s the point of their lives, one game against an AHL opponent isn’t going to do much more. The only player it might make a difference for, as one reader pointed out, is the guy who isn’t going to make the NHL. This is true, but is it worth losing a home date for it? I mean, you can’t even claim we’re playing a different caliber team, as we always see Hershey several times a year.
But, as I’ve said, my issue with this thing isn’t the money it might or might not cost each team. It isn’t even with the game itself, though I find it pointless. It’s with how it’s being handled. In my opinion, offering a deal where fans pay for travel to a “home” game or offering a free ticket that they can’t use on themselves isn’t the right way to do it.
You know what would be the right way?
A merchandise credit for the price of one season ticket. That’s it. That’s all. Since I already paid for that ticket, give me my money back in a way that I can use on myself. I know a food credit would be asking a lot, as that’s a catering organization separate from the team, but a merch credit? They’ve done it before, quite successfully. I don’t think that’s too much to ask, and doing so benefits both parties. The STH gets to feel valued, gets to get money off of something they will use, while the team gets the advertising whenever the STH wears that piece of merch. With all of the 20th anniversary stuff that’s supposedly coming out, this would be a great time for the Crunch to extend this offer as compensation.
Without it, I’m afraid that this quote from Rotella will stand true:
They (the Crunch) should handle it better. But they won’t listen to us fans.
In my experience, that honestly isn’t true. I hope this isn’t the one time it is.