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.