Sports marketing

Sports marketing professor doesn’t think Sabers will struggle to sell tickets

BUFFALO, NY (WIVB) – The Buffalo Sabers are tied for last place in the MassMutual East Division. The world is in the midst of a pandemic. Anyone attending a game at KeyBank Center when the team hosts fans on March 20 will be required to take a COVID-19 test. Still, Buffalo State sports marketing professor Jeff Ventura doesn’t think the team will have trouble selling tickets.

“I think we all crave normalcy and a night out,” Ventura said. “I guess, what could be more normal than going downtown and watching the Sabers lose?”

“There is a fragmented fan base, but I think the appeal of the night is definitely an attractive prospect for fans,” he added.

The team announced Thursday that it will begin welcoming fans for “selected” games, starting with this March 20 game against the Boston Bruins. It’s unclear how many home games the team will play in front of the fans. In accordance with public health rules, any fan with a ticket will be required to prove they have passed a COVID test no later than 72 hours before the game.

Sabers head coach Ralph Krueger, whose team announced he tested positive for coronavirus on Feb. 4, said any fans in the arena would be a bonus. But that’s not something he’s thinking about right now.

“I’m not even going to think about it until it actually happens because I’ve seen in this almost a year of COVID now that you can’t concretely plan anything on a day-to-day basis. day,” Krueger said.

“Let’s just hope it actually happens. But we are still almost a month away from that,” he added.

Six NHL teams are currently playing home games in front of fans, including the New York Rangers, who will play their first home game with fans on Friday night. Seven others, including the Sabres, will start doing so in March.

“From a marketing perspective and from a fan culture perspective, the longer your fan base is absent, the more other things start to open up, the more competition you have with other things. “Ventura said. “So you want to bring people back as quickly as possible.”

Ventura thinks there’s a reason the Sabers announced tickets would only be available for “selected” games.

“Logistically, I think they kind of want to offer it on a trial basis,” he said. “I’m sure they would like the fans to fill the seats, as much as possible, as often as possible to start recouping some of that revenue. But maybe they don’t know exactly what the market is.

Chris Horvatits is an award-winning journalist who joined the News 4 team in December 2017. See more of his work here.