Although I still don’t really like the idea of having the Syracuse Crunch Fan Fest/Welcome the Crunch Back event anywhere other than Syracuse, I did like the over-all feel last night. The front office people I talked to knew the event needed to be made better, and that’s definitely what happened. It’s very hard for these events to go off perfectly, and considering this was free to the fans, I realize that presented certain constraints.
Just for fun, here’s a brief rundown of what I liked and didn’t like.
Like: The players were all easily accessible for autographs. About half the team was seated at a long table that they had the fans walk in front of in a line to get autographs. The organization had posters the players could sign for the fans to have, and they also signed anything that was put in front of them (jerseys, season ticket folders/booklets, etc.). There were some players lined up for a photograph opportunity at the end of the line (more on this later), and others were handing out season tickets. The few that were left were milling around, open to talking, signing, and pictures. It was different from the STH Christmas party format, and although I hope not to lose that format, considering the crowd and space it made for better efficiency for those wanting autographs.
Didn’t like: Many of the players who were seated at the table were new to the team. Although they all had on their jerseys, their names were obviously on their backs, so I had no idea who they were. I was able to grab most of their numbers to look up later, but it would have been nice to somehow be able to know their names before hand. I know nametags on clothes are cheesy, but…something? Maybe something on the table? The guy behind me kept asking each of their names as he went down the line, but that became awkward when he got to a guy like Dana Tyrell, who obviously played here last year and who the guy should have known. Oops. Also, having them seated at a long table like that decreased the chances of getting pictures with those players without a lot of fuss and holding up of the line. This is a much smaller complaint, but something to just put out there.
Like: The team was introduced to the crowd by having them go up a double stairway into a room and then called out one by one. Dan D’Uva got the RC’ing honors, and he did a really nice job. The staff went first, and I was really happy with the reception given by the fans to those gentlemen, especially Trent Cull. As the players were called, they lined up along the stairway, so that at the end the fans assembled got a full look at their team. It was a really nice touch. It was fun to actually be able to welcome them kind of formally in addition to the informality of just chatting with them.
Like: Turning Stone is beautiful. You can’t deny that. They had us in a hallway area, with that stairway on one side and what I assumed was a bar area on the other. This event needed to be changed and classed up, and a venue like that did it. The space was larger, it didn’t have the odd nooks and crannies the War Memorial rink area has. The movement was more free-flowing and open.
Dislike: Turning Stone isn’t in Syracuse. The drive was yucky after a long work day, and the quickest way there required paying tolls (thankfully it was only like $2.50, but still). I also used more than a 1/4 of a tank of gas. Turning Stone itself isn’t that easy to navigate if you haven’t been there, and the signs they had up to direct people around the place weren’t very helpful. There were no Crunch event direction signs that I saw. We actually got turned around once and were only saved by a family in Crunch jerseys (who are actually fans of this Ol’ Place and were great to finally meet) who thankfully knew where the heck we were going. Also, it would have been nice to have a punch bowl or a water fountain or something for the fans to drink. I’m not asking for a free meal, I know food would have been too much to ask for at a free event like this, but something for the fans to drink without paying for it would have been welcome. It was warm in that hallway/atrium thing.
Like: Eric Neilson. That’s all. He’s awesome. He just lights up when he talks to the fans.
Like: Ceddy made a comment about how nice my Riku practice jersey was. Riku and Ceddy were with a few other players for the photo op thing–that I guess I was supposed to get a ticket for to get my picture? oops?–and he saw it. I only got the picture taken so I could get Riku to sign it, but it was nice Ceddy made that comment with Riku right there. I really liked that small show of support for his partner goaltender. It’s no secret how desperately I want Riku to have a good year here, and after his rough one last year, it was sweet to see Ceddy supporting him even in a little way like that.
Dislike: The photo opp thing. I’m still not sure how it worked. I needed that ticket thing to get my picture after, right? Did I have to pay for it? Will my picture with those guys be floating around in cyber space somewhere, waiting to be claimed? Obviously, I’m still a little confused. I just wanted my jersey signed, darn it. This set up just made interacting with those players a bit more difficult.
Like: the professional presentation of the season tickets this year. There were no brown envelops, and certainly no rubber-banded stacks. There was even a VIP card inside, which was a nice touch. The portfolio/folder they were in had a great design on it and was held closed securely. Really nice job.
This isn’t a true dislike, but I am a little unclear how to use the VIP Card. First of all, there’s one card, but there’s three of us. This isn’t like a family situation, where there’s kids who don’t need a card. We’re all adults. The paper with it says you can use it for 10% off Crunch merchandise, but what if the person whose name that’s on the card isn’t with us that night? You used to just be able to present your season ticket stub at the merch table and that was enough, but I guess that would enable people who had just been given season ticket holder seats for that night to get the discount, too. So, can we no longer just present our ticket stub? I probably won’t have a problem, the people who work the merch table know me, but…just wondering, I guess.
All in all, it was a much better event than the Fan Fests have been in the past. My only other real concern is that there wasn’t much for kids to do. The Crunch used to have bounce houses at this event, but not this time. However, there really weren’t that many kids there, so maybe that isn’t a big deal. Just another thought.
Nice job, Crunch.