Monday, November 17, 2008

Spell Cranky with Three G's

Homer alert: I was alerted to this blog post by the St. Louis Blues' Forums and it concerns my team. As it has nothing to do with what my team puts on the ice, I feel as though I can approach this unbiased. Which actually means that I'm approaching it with bitterness and hatred. That's what shines through most.

John Grigg is way too pissed off about a marketing gimmick coming right out of St. Louis. But to be fair to him, let's see everything he has to say. Even though he doesn't deserve it.

Yesterday in its daily NHL Today media release, the league giddily announced it had set October attendance records with a per-game average of 17,388 – the first time in history attendance had surpassed 17,000 fans per game during the first month of the season – and a capacity average of 94.1 percent.

And the NHL should giddily announce that people are paying money to watch the sport in this economy. "The Lead" gets more time on the ESPN ticker than hockey does now. The NHL should be very happy.

I’m not going to rail on the league for such pronouncements. Despite the appearance of large sections of empty seats in some arenas, we don’t have any hard evidence to contradict the league’s numbers. In fact, one third-party observer is posting data that supports the NHL’s claim.

Sure, expensive seats may be going unfilled, but those things are sold to companies. And was I ever disappointed with that link joke. Let's start the downward spiral.

But what about the ways teams are trying to put butts in the seats? What are the league’s bottom-dwellers doing to further that cause? Gas and food coupons have appeared in some NHL arenas. And all-you-can-eat sections have popped-up in Atlanta, Boston, Nashville and Phoenix.

For the record, I was in an all-you-can-eat section at a Cardinals game when I was in college and discovered the true use for cargo pants that night. In Nashville - the only all-you-can-eat seats I looked into - it's $55 for an upper bowl seat. That's a little expensive and a little far from the action.

But here’s a new one: The St. Louis Blues – who are seventh in average attendance according to ESPN, but 20th in average capacity and 28th in the standings – will pay your mortgage.

It's because ESPN is using an outdated possible attendance figure to calculate average. Old arena capacity used to be 22,000 and now it's down to 19,150. For some reason, ESPN decided to go with about 21,000 for capacity. And thanks to yesterday's overtime loss, the Blues are now tied for 2nd worst team in the league, and 5 points out of a playoff spot. It's early yet.

Yes that’s right Blues fans, as long as you’re a legal resident of Illinois or Missouri, you can win support payments.

Blackhawks fans are eligible. To break down the offer, one person for every remaining Saturday home game gets mortgage or rent paid for the next four months, up to $1,000. 11 home games left on the Blues schedule means the most the team will have to pay out is $44,000. CNN and TSN have picked up the story, and all five of our news outlets reported it in some fashion. I'm no big city lawyer, but that's $44,000 well spent. But let's see some dope shit all over it.

In what can only be considered a bottom-of-the-barrel ticket-drive scheme, the Blues will draw one ticket during 11 Saturday home games beginning Nov. 29 and pay that person’s mortgage or rent for four months, up to a $4,000 maximum.

Are the Blues really interested in paying up to $4,000 to a person? No. I'm sure they don't care. But why is this a crime against humanity? It's all about ticket sales and the team is all sorts of injured. If this was $4,000 worth of gas, this article would be about fat people in Nashville. They aren't checking to see if they have diabetes, but they're feeding them all they can eat! Put a stop to it!

A novel idea to be sure, but it’s also more than a little insensitive. Whoever decided it would be OK to make light of the dire economic circumstances in the U.S. has some explaining to do to the people really feeling the economic pinch.

You want insensitive? The Blues tried to have an all-you-can-drink section. It lasted all of six hours. Sales of the tickets were started and stopped in the same day. I'm an unemployed blogger with bills to pay, and I think this is a very smart idea. The only person with explaining to do is John Grigg. John, get off your high horse. I'd love to have a job where I can type and get paid. Ideally, I would love to have a job. If somebody is having trouble making ends meet, then odds are they won't come to a hockey game. In fact, they should use that $20 for a ticket and buy groceries with it. Let 11 people get $4,000 and stand off.

It’s not just that the Blues are cashing in on all the ink the sub-prime mortgage crisis has received around the world, they’re doing so shamelessly.

Explain how, exactly. Are they forcefully relocating all Blues fans to Nashville? No, it's a gimmick. It's just like all the Crazy Eddie dressing up like Washington in February to sell used cars.

The promotion itself is called the Fan Bailout Plan – in reference to the controversial $700-billion government economic injection meant to prop up the U.S. economy. And the games are being billed as Fannie & Freddie Mortgage Saturdays – in reference to the U.S. mortgage giants the government took over in September and whose failures are at the heart of the economic crisis.

This is what you've chosen to explain? What the hell? Your readers aren't idiots. They know why the economy is in the shitter. But make every single one of them feel like an elementary school kid by spelling it out. Next week, John Grigg will explain to you why the sky is blue and claim it's insensitive to Red Wings fans.

I, for one, am amazed at the level of insensitivity the Blues are showing. Thousands of American families have lost their homes and the entire world is feeling the effects of the U.S. recession, but the Blues and the NHL seem to think playing off that misery to sell a few extra tickets is a dandy idea.

Also in John Grigg's world, the NHL says yes or no to what a single team decides to do to sell tickets. I still do not see how somebody would look at this and see it as a slap in the face as opposed to a gimmick.

Don’t these guys get it? Don’t they realize such promotions alienate the very people they’re trying to attract. Think about it, if your friend or family member had lost their home, would this promotion make you more or less likely to attend a game? For my part, I’d be more likely to not go to any Blues game with something like this on the go.

Good, then don't come. All you'd do is sit in the stands and bitch the whole time about how people in the upper bowl are segregated from the people in the lower bowl by escalators. If I had a friend lose their place, they would be invited to stay here and then we'd probably go to the game. Maybe they'd win some cash. Probably not. 1/19,150 is pretty bad odds.

When you’re languishing near last overall and not putting enough butts in the seats, maybe any idea seems like a good one.

I think enough butts are in the seats. You said yourself that the Blues are 7th overall in attendance with 18,940. I can look past the fact that ESPN hasn't updated their hockey attendance stats, and that you used that to see they have a poor average. Capacity is 19,150, and diving that by 18,940 is not how you calculate averages. Turn those numbers around, and you'll see the Blues are at 99% capacity. Injuries have hurt the Blues this year a lot and that's why they are where they are in the West.

John Grigg is a copy editor with The Hockey News and a regular contributor to with his blog and the Top 10.

Hey John, I hope you next mortgage check bounces. And by that, I mean that I hope that you don't have enough money in your bank account so that the transaction doesn't go though, which is what is happening to people everywhere in this country.

On a serious note, I do want to know what everybody else around here thinks about this. Am I just not seeing how this is insensitive?


Angelo said...

I see how calling it Fannie $ Freddie Mortgage Saturdays can be construed as insensitive, but it's also really fucking hilarious. So I would let them get away with it. As for the promotion itself, 0% on the insensitivity meter. "You inconsiderate bastards! How dare you pay fans' mortgages when we're in a housing crisis due to people not being able to pay their mortgages!" And to answer Grigg's question, this promotion would make me slightly more likely to attend a game even if my friend lost his home. I assume most people would agree.

cs said...

How is it insensitive to run a contest where someone gets their mortgage paid for? So, if they just gave a couple grand away every game then that would be okay? Whatever. They are helping a family pay its bills and hoping it draws some interest. So fucking what. I'd rather have that contest then the bullshit they have here in DC: if you are lucky enough, you can win and leave the gsme with a coupon for one free pizza redeemable at Poppa Jon's!

Chris W said...

not insensitive at all.

even if it was, "people losing their house because they signed mortgages they should have known they couldn't afford" is not very high on the "people we need to make sure we don't offend."

Here's that list by the way:

1. People from disadvantaged or mistreated groups so downtrodden to even mention them on this mildly satirical list would be blindingly offensive.

2. 102 year old black ladies


15. College women who decided sophomore year to become feminists
16. Inuits
17. Kiwis


57. Left-handed people
58. Dentists
59. Libertarians


124. Nebbish librarians who turn out to be sexy
125. One-Eyed Jacks
126. People who didn't bother finding out that their mortgage rates would increase after an initial period of an incredibly, nearly unbelievably low rate.
127. Keelber Elves.

cb said...

One of the best promotional ideas ever. Bravo, Blues.

Venezuelan Beaver Cheese said...

I don't find it offensive. With the economy the way it is I'd be willing to take any help I could get.

Now that I know about this offer, I may just stop at a Blues game next time I'm in St. Louis. Thanks, John Grigg!

Jarrett said...

I forgot to mention that the Blues also announced that 500 tickets per game are $11.20 (KMOX 1120 is the AM voice of the Blues and if you live in America you get it on your radio an hour after sunset.) and 500 tickets are $25 in the lower bowl.

cs - if you become a fan of Papa John's on Facebook, you get a free medium when you order any other pizza online.

Chris W - The morning drive radio show I listen to here ran ads for the Libertarian party for a solid month before the election.

Martin said...

I don't think it's a bad thing at all. At this point, it's not just people who took out bad mortgages, but people who have lost thier jobs and had good mortgages, who are in trouble. It shows that the team recognizes that these aren't the easiest times for it's fans, and hey, it can give a little back, and get some good pr in the process.

I have a job, and I'd sure love 4 months of mortgage payments. It would let me make a nice little emergency nest egg. Nothing wrong with that.

Bengoodfella said...

This is probably one of the best promotions I have ever heard of and it is a win-win because the fans get a chance to have their mortgage paid (which everyone would certainly like) and the Blues get asses in the seats.

I am not sure how this could be offensive. I am a naturally unsympathetic person apparently because I don't feel bad for anyone who were talked into a mortgage they could not afford. No one is bailing me out of any stupid decisions I have ever made.

I love hockey posts! More, more, more...

Chris W said...

BenHoodYella's got your back, Jarrett.

JimA said...

Ohmygod, talk about shameless. Not only did I have to hear the stinking Blues on the radio late at night, but I have to know some people are getting tickets for a price which is aligned with the call letters of the radio staion. Talk about playing off our misery. I, for one, am amazed at the level of insensitivity the Blues are showing. From 1997 to 2006, the Blackhawks made the playoffs once while the Blues made it every year. Then we had to hear them in April and May on the radio. They just don't care how much pain they cause.