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Tailing the Komets

Economics of sport in the Fort

This talk about the B2 and tape delay has gotten me thinking -- always a dangerous thing. I've studied this topic for two decades, looking back over every scrap of Fort Wayne's sports  history.

As Tony said, what if 100 people decided to stay home and watch it instead of going to the games? At an average of $10 a ticket, which is about what the Komets average from each ticket, that's approximiately $40,000 a year. No minor league sports franchise that doesn't own its own building can ever afford to gamble with that kind of money, and probably even those that do. That might be the increase in their gas bill this season as an example.

(Remember also, the Komets are on the hook for ALL the expenses from the all-star game coming up. There's a reason why they have it so soon again because all-star games are fun, but they almost always lose money. That's a fact.)

You know, we talk all the time about the possibility of moving to the AHL on this blog, but this is a similar topic. The thing is, you have to find ownership that is willing to gamble on making a move like that, and that would be suicide with this market. Who is going to be willing to risk their own money on something like that, especially looking at the history? I never would.

Fort Wayne has always been and always will be a cheap market -- which is both postive and negative. It keeps the prices down which is very positive, but we also complain at the slightest raise in any prices. The Komets' ticket prices have risen in the past few years, but have they kept up with inflation? I don't t hink so, because they know the fans would scream bloody murder.

There's a reason why only two pro sports franchises have ever survived here long-term, the Komets and now the Wizards, which is amazing considering how many other recent franchises have struggled. Give Mike Nutter and crew a lot of credit because they deserve it.

Think back to all the franchises in all the sports we've had here, and they've all failed. How many race tracks have we had in this area? The trend in this area has always been first year people will check it out, and if you win they'll come back for the second year, but you better sell in the third year. Look at the Freedom. They are just following Fort Wayne's long-established pattern. That's sort of the challenge IPFW faces this year in basketball. The novelty has worn off, so now they better have a product to sell.

How many Komets owners have ended up making money when they were finished? No one. The original owners lost money, the Ullyot-Lister ownership lost money in the end because the check never arrived, Britt, Welker and then even the Frankes lost money at the end of the IHL days. It's a tough business and this is a tough sports town.

I'm not dissing this city -- it is my hometown after all -- that's just historical fact. Three pro basketball franchises, women's softball, how many semi pro football teams, slo-pitch softball, golf events, race tracks, etc. (I know I'm forgetting some off the top of my head)

And if people can stay home and watch it on TV, you better believe they will. How successful has IPFW's volleyball program been, but they have probably three or four times the audience on college access as they do at the matches, and it's been that way for 20 years. I get far more feedback when I do a match on TV as I ever do from articles I write about them.

Don't believe it? How many of you read the paper on-line instead of subscribing? If it's free or you can find a way when it costs less, why wouldn't you take advantage of that? That's just how it's done in Fort Wayne.

It will always be a struggle to survive here as a pro franchise. It's not an easy market to sell. It never will be.

Oops, I just fell off my soap box.

Posted in: Komets


Wed, 10/04/2006 - 8:48am

i still buy the afternoon and morning paper and read stuff online....does that make me special?

Wed, 10/04/2006 - 8:58am

IPFW's volleyball team is successful beacause it plays teams like UCLA, PENN STATE, OHIO STATE, BALL STATE. And they've been doing it for almost 20 years now. You think the Basketball teams would get attendance and people coming if they could play those teams. What was the attendance for the Norte Dame game? The other reason, I believe, that people would rather watch a volleyball game on TV and not go is because they play at the Gates Center. Why go see a match there?

I'm not entirley sure I buy the argument, but I'll give it the benefit of the doubt.

The problem I see is that the Frankes wouldn't actually know how B2 games live would affect them unless they actually went through with it. And it seems that will never happen

Wed, 10/04/2006 - 9:06am

I guess that's some of my point, Greg. Can any Fort Wayne sports team take a chance on giving away potential ticket buyers? Judging by the city's history, they can't, no matter how many fans they are currently drawing because it can end very quickly. It has happened consistently in the past.

Wed, 10/04/2006 - 9:07am

You are VERY special, hobo. Thank you.

Wed, 10/04/2006 - 9:12am

But Blake, The team has been around for 55 years, that's gotta say something for the city that at least one team has been able to stick around. The Wizards are on their 14th year I think. The Frankes need to give their fan base a little bit of credit.

Tony E
Wed, 10/04/2006 - 9:23am

You also have to include lost revenue from souvenir sales and whatever (if any) cut they get from food sales. Plus if attendance drops so will advertising etc. It is a downward spiral.

Wed, 10/04/2006 - 9:31am

The Komets did have B2 2 years ago.

Wed, 10/04/2006 - 9:31am

you did a very nice job on this.

Wed, 10/04/2006 - 9:37am

But B2 wasn't widly advetised as it is now.

I'm not convinced that having B2 show live games in Fort Wayne is a bad thing.

Wed, 10/04/2006 - 9:44am

Do the Komets get to keep the $2 per person for each road B2 Broadcast or does the home team get to keep that since they don't get any money when they play in Fort Wayne?

Wed, 10/04/2006 - 9:44am


This is off topic but I see where Chicago has released Chaz Johnson. Does Rockford still own his rights or is he free to sign anywhere?
Would be a nice pick up for the K's! Good size, can skate, hits, puts up good points, and can drop em too!

Wed, 10/04/2006 - 10:02am

When you pay for something online and you use a credit card to pay, the mailing address shows up. Why can B2 only let away teams fans get the feed. Example, Im in Fort Wayne and if the K's are in Chicago I can get the feed. If the K's are at home and I try to get the feed if will not let me because my address shows up as being in Fort Wayne? Im sure B2 could do this, just my two cents, B2 or no B2 Im still going to the game but I can see where the Franke's are comming from.

Wed, 10/04/2006 - 10:27am

I can't even believe that people think B2 is even remotly the same as going to the game. Yes it is cheaper, but there is no way a computer screen can relay the energy and excitement of the real thing. I don't care if the feed was free I would only watch it when the K's were on the road.

Wed, 10/04/2006 - 10:44am

If the league has a business plan, which i presume they would, i would think stability of teams would be high on the list, especially at this level. How does a team become stable, it gets people in the seats eating the concessions, buying the trinkets and looking at all the advertisements (revenue) from the corporate sponsors.

While i don't think B2 is good for league and team revenue i do enjoy watching the away games, but for the sake of the league i could do without it.

I just don't see the logic behind it.

Tony E
Wed, 10/04/2006 - 10:44am

Of course it isn't the same, but it does present another option which takes money out of the pocket of the franchise.

Tony E
Wed, 10/04/2006 - 10:45am

BTW a similar deal for the OHL costs double what B2 is asking for.

Wed, 10/04/2006 - 10:50am

Top Shelf, even though i live in the fort, i have a credit card with a minnesota address, thats just one way around the system, and while i'm thinking of it if they tried to restrict it by IP address i could log in to the minnesota office and have that computer with the minnesota IP address do the transaction and i bet there are other crafty individuals out there who could think of other ways to bypass the system.

and like you i'm going to the game, the puck drops tonight.

Wed, 10/04/2006 - 10:51am

Here is my comment and I am sure it has been said before...I am going to use this as an example but...Are the Colts games in Indy blacked out in Indianapolis unless the game is sold out and in that case they will show it on local channels...Why cant they do that here for the Komets?

I have watched away games on B2 and the quality is not there so I am not sure why someone would want to watch on the internet opposed to going to the game.
I personally have season tickets and there is nothing like watching live hockey at the Arena so if I can help it and I am able I will not miss games.

Wed, 10/04/2006 - 11:05am

like blake said people are cheap...i dont think people in ft wayne are going to pick the cpu over the real thing...people from the opposing teams city would buy the B2 game...i dont see season ticket holders picking the cpu ov er the real thing....and what every once in awhile fan is going to take time to sit at the cpu and pay to watch a crappy feed? i dont think it will effect tickets too much if at all

Wed, 10/04/2006 - 11:07am

Actually, according to some folks at the coliseum I talked to, they did an experiment at attempting to block FW viewers and it failed. There's always a way around things like that.

I'm 99 percent sure Rockford is not stupid enough to give away Chaz Johnson's rights. I'll bet he was on a two-way that has not been announced. All they had to do to retain them was to offer him a contract, whether he signed it or not.

Greg, on the other hand you could argue that the Komets have only been successful for 16 years. Yes, it's been around for 55 years, but how much money has it lost? If the Komets thought in any way shape or form it would be profitable, don't you think they'd be all over it?

The best thing Fort Wayne does is tell other people how to spend their own money.

Wed, 10/04/2006 - 11:08am

The Frankes are looking to draw the causal fans who are looking for something to do on a night out, do you think that if someone who doesn't go out on a regular basis is going to worry about the Komets as it is.
The Frankes have siad it before, they are trying to cater to those familes who will come to the occaisonal game. i don't think those same families are going to huddle around a small computer screen to watch a crappy feed.

Tony E
Wed, 10/04/2006 - 11:18am

Actually today you can hook your computer up to a plasma TV (or many modern TVs) and use it as a monitor. A guy I ump with does that with the MLBTV.COM package. I have not had a chance to see the feed they use on B2. I knew it was not going to be CBC quality but is it really bad? This is a fairly new product so maybe they have improved since last season.

Wed, 10/04/2006 - 11:26am

The way I take it (and this is just my opinion, I realize it's the Frankes team and they can do whatever they want with it or to it)is that the Frankes, in this instance, are showing no faith the the people of Fort Wayne would come out and support the franchise. I understand their concerns, but IMO it's minimal. The Komets are the only team in the UHL who apparently has a problem with the B2 Networks and they typically have twice the attendance of anyone in the league. So why have all the other teams in the league signed on?

Wed, 10/04/2006 - 11:27am

tony e...now who is gonna go through all that trouble to watch a komets game...seriously....
greg...thats exactly what im sayin

Wed, 10/04/2006 - 11:29am

Actually, I know a couple of people who do that. I helped one of them set up their system. We watched a playoff game that way last year.

Wed, 10/04/2006 - 11:34am

I have a couple friends who hooked up some Komet games to their televisions and watched that way last season. It was, however, for away games.

Wed, 10/04/2006 - 11:40am

interesting..i guess there are some pretty hard-hardcore fans...i if i were gonna watch a game i would go to it not watch it at home cuz like someone said earlier it isnt the same....

Wed, 10/04/2006 - 11:45am

Any idea who will dress tonight and who will sit out?

Wed, 10/04/2006 - 11:52am

Not specifically, but he was planning on a younger rather than older lineup. I wouldn't expect to see more than one or two vets depending on the holes left over in the lineup.

Wed, 10/04/2006 - 11:53am

we gonna see some fights...yah fights