Tampa Bay Lightning

Surprise Visits Help Reward Fan Loyalty

Monday, 03.09.2009 / 5:54 PM / Best of the Web
By Mark Pukalo
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Surprise Visits Help Reward Fan Loyalty

When Ryan Malone visited Herman Glazer’s office Monday, he was also walking into a Tampa Bay Lightning Hall of Fame.

Glazer, the owner of Builders First Choice in Tampa, displayed a room decorated with Lightning memorabilia and souvenirs from different team events he has attended during the past decade as a fan and season-ticket holder.

“Looking good in here,” Malone said, smiling.

Malone, along with teammates, coaches, broadcasters, owners and management, visited homes and businesses Monday to deliver season-ticket renewal packages and gift bags to loyal fans throughout the Tampa Bay area. It was part of the Lightning’s 2009-2010 ticket drive, a program in which season packages have been reduced from 8 to 12 percent for most of the seats at the St. Pete Times Forum.

For Glazer, who has been a supporter since the start, it was a treat.

“I was excited,” Glazer said. “I’m 64 years old, but I’m like a kid.”

In all, renewal packages and Lightning goodies were delivered to 83 homes and businesses by 33 people in the organization as far south as Sarasota and as far north as Bushnell.

Malone, wearing his No. 12 black jersey, also visited Ring Power Corporation in Riverview. He met with Vice President, Regional Sales Manager Tommy Ball, who was wearing a Lightning collared shirt, and many on the staff.

“I think this is one of the nicest things the organization has done,” said Ball, whose company has been with the Lightning from the start.

Malone finished his journey at Zimmer Construction Co. Inc. in Brandon, just down the street from the Lightning’s practice rink. Greg Zimmer, the owner, was a former goalie at Lake Superior State. More signing, more pictures.

It was the type of passion Malone has seen a lot in Lightning fans.

“I think the team and the game sells itself,” Malone said. “I’m just happy to come out and shake hands and show them we’re glad to have them along for the ride. You definitely see a different reaction. It’s pretty special.”

Lightning Interim Head Coach Rick Tocchet said the new NHL is a partnership and more than ever it is important to take a couple hours a day to meet with fans and “make them believe in something.”

The players met up with representatives of the Lightning after practice in Brandon Monday, then went out on the road. Sales reps checked in with those to be visited and told them a vague reason why someone from the Lightning would stop by in the afternoon.

“The players are great,” said Patrick Duffy, Lightning Senior Vice President of Sales. “They all stepped up and were happy to jump on board with it.”

Duffy said this is the first time the Lightning have done this and none of the NHL or other area professional teams have officially announced reduced tickets for next season as of yet.

“The idea is just to get out and thank everybody for sticking with us through the years,” he said. “We want to tell them how much we appreciate them and how much we want them back.”

The Lightning mailed season-ticket renewals in February for the 2009-10 campaign, decreasing prices for almost 90 percent of the St. Pete Times Forum seats. Most of the seats were reduced 8 to 12 percent and the average is 10 percent across the board. Half-season packages and 10-game mini-plan prices are also decreasing. Single-game ticket prices for the 2009-10 season have yet to be announced.

The reclassification of 1,300 seats in the upper-portion of the terrace level creates a decline of up to 80 percent to only $239 for the season or just $5.69 plus tax, per game. Some of these seats cost season-ticket holders up to $1,199 for the 2008-09 season. When combined with those that were available at that price in 2008-09, almost 4,000 (about 20 percent) of the Times Forum seats will be available for $239. Half-season packages will be just $149 in the same area.

The remainder of the terrace-level seating will decrease by 20 percent. Many of the lower plaza and club-level seats will decrease 6-12 percent for the season and fans can sit in the plaza level for as low as $35.69 per game plus tax, per seat.

“We’re recognizing some of the issues with the economy,” Duffy said. “We’re trying to make it the best value in all of sports.”

The Lightning are also offering an eight-month payment plan for ticket buyers. Fans who pay for the season tickets in full by March 27 will receive a 3 percent rebate in Times Forum dollars, which can be used for food and beverage or merchandise at Lightning events inside the St. Pete Times Forum. For more information, call 813.301.6800.