Rather than delve into more evidence that the New Jersey Devils are a bad hockey team beyond most of the last 79 games of the 2014-15 season, let's get to matters closer to business. Fan business. As you may or may not know, I'm a season ticket holder. I know it's bad for blogging but I love the Devils so I bought in despite the team raising my prices.(Aside: I'm not holding my breath on the team releasing their prices by section like what was done under previous owners.) Anyway, a few days ago, I got an email from the Devils stating that I would be receiving a letter from the team in a red envelope. I got the envelope on Friday, which was clearly addressed from the team making the previous email useless except to satisfy a desire for over-communication. In it, I received two cards: a Fan Appreciation Night Card and an explanation.
April 7 is the final home game of the season. As is tradition for most teams, the final regular season home game will have the team doing something for the fans be it prize giveaway or something. What is not tradition is what the card will do provided I bring it to the game. There will be Member Entrances at each tower from 5:30 through 6:30 PM. There will be Member Concession Lines for two of the food locations: Jersey Grind & Bayonne Diner. The card would provide a one-time 10% discount for non-alcohol purchases. The card also provides a one-time 30% discount on regularly-priced merchandise at the team's stores. Lastly, the card has a number on it that will be used for prize drawings.
The first two aspects of the card are the most interesting. On the explanation card, it explicitly states that the Devils are "testing" dedicated entrances and concession lines for two of the stands on both the upper and lower concourses. I can speak from anecdotal experience this season that several season ticket holders have told me how they feel things have been taken away from the game experience. With invoices showing an increase in prices, it's an issue even if they didn't care that much about them. It appears the Devils are going to address that while providing another incentive for fans to sign up for season tickets.
Will it work? Maybe. I can speak to some experience because I'm also a New York Red Bulls season ticket holder. They had (and have) dedicated food stands for season ticket holders. Given how remarkably cramped the concourse gets at halftime, being able to get something to eat without having to wait forever and a half on line is a big benefit. Getting there remains an issue, but I make it work. The Red Bulls don't do member entrances but with the card that acts as my season ticket, I swipe that under a scanner to get into Red Bull Arena. While both aren't main reasons why I'm a Red Bulls season ticket holder, it's a perk that I appreciate and use. That's the idea of an incentive. It seems to me that's what the Devils are shooting for and April 7 will be the test of how they'll work. If they go well, then you can expect it for next season.
At least the member concession lines will be tested. Member entrances are already listed on the team's benefits page for prospective season ticket holders for 2015-16. That seems like a safe bet for that test "passing." I assume they'll only get rid of that if it's truly a nightmare on Tuesday. We'll see.
The Devils' sales staff are trying something new out and it may work. They're still going to be hurt by what will likely be a bad 2015-16 squad. It's in their best interest that they serve those people that are still willing to pay plenty of money to see what will likely be a bad team as well as possible. Little things like this will help. I would suggest that a behind-the-scenes upgrade in customer service would help even more. I will say that I personally had no issues with my ticket representative or anyone else in the sales department. But I had little to do with them. Others have had several complaints that they'll remember and will drive people away from buying tickets. Bad hockey is one thing, bad service is another since it's not nearly as difficult as putting together a solid lineup to compete in the best hockey league in the world. For some examples, David Sarch shared his beefs on this episode of Talking Red. As I said on that episode in February, it's just simple stuff that will tick people off more than a bad loss to a hated rival. We'll see if that gets better for next season in addition to the tests.
My fellow season ticket holders, do you care about having your own entrance to The Rock and/or your own concession lines? Does this interest you? As for those of you who are not season ticket holders, would something like this interest you? Please leave your answers in the comments. Thank you for reading.