AHL Checkers Set Single Game Attendance Mark April 11
The American Hockey League’s Charlotte Checkers broke the team’s single game record on April 11, 2015 with a crowd of 13,219 fans as they closed out their tenure at the Time Warner Cable Arena.
On a standard game night for the Checkers, TWC Arena holds 6,800 seats (1,200 arena-leased suites) for a total of 8,000. Next season, they play at Bojangles’ Coliseum with a capacity of 8,600 after the building’s seat replacement project, which makes the TWC Arena capacity record something that may stand for a while.
The Checkers closed out the 2014-15 season with several high notes, including a 2 percent full-season ticket increase and a 15 percent mini-plan increase over the 2013-14 season, said Shawn Lynch, Checkers’ Sr. Vice President.
“We expanded our traditional offerings of 10 and 21 game plans to include both 4 and 5 game plans which required a minimum of a 4 seat purchase allowing us to target business for 1 game a month and get them on the escalator towards full season tickets,” Lynch said.
The Checkers didn’t add any specific seating inventory in 2014-15, but they focused a lot of attention on their premium inventory. That consisted of two on-ice suites and 4-party suites, Lynch said.
Checkers Increase Group Activities
“We do a great job working with local non-profits and schools systems to sell our in game elements like the national anthem, puck drop or player high five tunnels but the B2B focus needed to be intensified and was a big part of our group sales increase,” he said.
Group sales are a huge component of the Checkers’ business model, and they have found great success in that category. While pricing was kept relatively flat from 2013-14 to 2014-15, the Checkers increased their sales by 15 percent, realizing an additional $120,000 in revenue, Lynch said.
“We ordered 40,000 groups hats this season to serve as a data collection point in the arena,” he said. “This provided an opportunity to meet the individual group members and also countless other single game buyers wondering how to get the hat that everyone in their section was wearing.”
Expansion Of Two Popular Theme Nights Increase Attendance
Lynch said that the two hottest theme nights that the Checkers continually have were expanded in 2014-15 into two night events each, respectively.
The first major theme night expansion was to the popular “Race Night,” honoring The Sprint Cup Champion and their pit crew on that Thursday night, followed by a Friday night version featuring 30-plus drivers across all levels of racing. Some of the racers highlighted included Joey Logano and Ryan Newman.
The second popular theme night expansion was made to “Pink In The Rink,” helping provide awareness throughout the entire weekend. This allowed the Checkers to bring in two more beneficiaries, expanding it to five total involved in the weekend, and conduct both a Pink Jersey and Helmet auction. The Checkers’ Pink Helmets was the first in professional hockey, Lynch said.
Other great traditions included Thirsty Thursday’s $1 Bud Lights, coupled with theme promotions such as College Night and Teacher Appreciation Night.
In 2014-15, the Checkers also tried a new variation on the Family Pack with its Hardee’s partnership, offering 4 tickets, 4 Checkers hats, and $20 worth of Hardee’s gift cards. The goal was the remove the traditional ticket, hotdog and soda option out of play, and drive traffic toward a great partner while allowing fans to still eat in the building at full price, Lynch said.
Checkers Now Look Toward Renovated Coliseum
Moving into Bojangles’ Coliseum for the 2015-16 AHL season has generated a lot of excitement for the Charlotte Checkers, especially while celebrating the building’s 60th anniversary, Lynch said.
“The building is the birthplace of hockey in the South and many of our fans today saw their first hockey game in what is now known as Bojangles’ Coliseum,” he said.
From the months of July to October, the Bojangles’ Coliseum will receive $16 million in renovations including a new center hung scoreboard, sound system, LED lighting, ribbon boards and the replacement of about 8,600 seats.
“We have spent the last 10 years focused on selling about 6,500 seats,” Lynch said. “The number of seats has lead us to retool our pricing structure and actually lower ticket prices across all areas. Our focus will be to fill Bojangles’ Coliseum each weekend game that we host. We expect our number of Friday and Saturday night games to double from an average of 12 to 24 we have strong expectations on our future attendance numbers.”