I just won an autographed Matt Stajan card from the Toronto Marlies. I won via Twitter, where I suspect my odds were pretty awesome. @torontomarlies currently has 208 followers and I'm fairly certain only a handful played along with their RT contest yesterday.
I'm glad I won, because it gives me an excuse to respond to something I just read on the Toronto Sports Media Blog.
I know, I am fixated on this right now. The Bellville vs. Brampton game last night outdrew the Marlie game…..The Marlies announced a crowd of over 2200, the OHL game???? 3221!
As anyone who reads this blog knows, I have a blast at Marlies games. I'm going tonight to watch game five from the front row. My son and I know all the players by name, know their strengths, their weaknesses and have remarkable access to them. I'm not blowing smoke up your ass when I tell you we sincerely love watching the Marlies live.
Having said that, I can vouch for the fact that weeknight games are poorly attended. Even playoff games, and that doesn't make sense to me. I've dealt with the Marlies PR folks and they seem to be doing a lot of things right. They reached out to me, they do great things with kids hockey leagues, including my son's Timbits hockey at Swansea, they're now on Twitter and Facebook and they're open to creative marketing solutions.
I think the OHL is outdrawing the Marlies because the Marlies are part of the MLSE empire, and it's hard to paint yourself as a low-cost family alternative when you're printing money with the Leafs, Raptors and TFC. Even though the product is excellent and most of the players have already suited up or will suit up for the Maple Leafs, those looking for a low-cost family alternative sway toward the OHL, the more grass-roots, organic flavour of minor league hockey in the GTA.
There's nothing the Marlies can do about this, but I have one suggestion. Lower ticket prices because you're already gouging us on the NHL level and we know it. My preferred Marlies seats cost $38 each... Decent side seats are $33 on game day. Even the end zone seats are $21 on game day. IMHO, that's too high to be a true low-cost family alternative, especially when we pay $12 to park.
The product is good but the competition is fierce. Aggressive pricing and continued good grass-roots work on the marketing front is the best bet for future Marlies success.
I can't wait for puck droppage tonight @ 7pm at Ricoh. I'll tweet from the game... and hopefully pick up my Matt Stajan autograph.