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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 - 12:08pm

Is Larry Schmidt going to play any music tonite and do his usual PA...ing

Wed, 10/04/2006 - 12:17pm

Of course

Wed, 10/04/2006 - 1:48pm

Just heard it today and thought this would be good for between-periods music - what about Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water." You can't beat that riff at the start of the song, old school R & R.

Wed, 10/04/2006 - 1:49pm

To clarify...
Why not "Smoke on the Water" for when the Komets return to to the ice to start each period?

Wed, 10/04/2006 - 2:05pm

I think assuming 100 people every game would stay home and watch a choppy feed on a 19" PC screen instead of going to the game is a reach. Die hard fans would want to be there in person,regardless, The casual fan may watch on B2, but that doesn't mean they chose that instead of going to the game in person.
Maybe B2 should charge a little more, and give a bigger cut to the home team.

There is really now way to track if it does affect attendance, there are a lot of things that affect attendance.

Wed, 10/04/2006 - 2:07pm

Blake, any word on camera location for the B2 network games? Do they have their own camera, or they ust the feed off the Coliseum system?

Wed, 10/04/2006 - 2:41pm

They use the coliseum feed which is what the Komets use to tape the game for the officials, league office, etc.

Tony E
Wed, 10/04/2006 - 3:40pm

Hobo some people, especially "gamers" have their computers hooked up to a TV full time. I am what you would call mechanically DEclined but I know it is not difficult to do. If the NHL offered a games package online I can promise you I would be on my way to Best Buy to buy a TV I could hook up that way.

Wed, 10/04/2006 - 4:17pm

I'm from Canada and it costs me $6 to watch the game. I would rather be at the game and I am sure local fans feel the same. I do not think attendance will be affected as long as the Komets put on a good hard show. Looking and hearing what is happening at camp Komets all the way.

Tony E
Wed, 10/04/2006 - 4:20pm

Rick I am in the same boat as you. Being 3 hours away I would love to be able to watch the games live. Thankfully Bob Chase makes listening fun but there is nothing like watching.

Wed, 10/04/2006 - 7:12pm

You put a good product on the ice and they will show up!!!I watched probably 10 -12 games on the B2 last year,and it leaves alot to be desired.There are fans of other teams would like to see their teams playing the Komets. The Frankes should not be better than thou.
Cant wait to watch the komets against rockford on the road.
My 2cents worth,which is exactly what it is worth.

Also heard Rob Guinn spent his Christmas Day visiting sick kids in the hospital,he was not working either.

Thu, 10/05/2006 - 8:44pm

Lets check attendance this year, and see how much it slides.... I do not think that it will.

I'm sick of hearing about how the Frankes lost money. They may have lost money in the IHL but they are rolling around in the dough in the UHL. Anyone that doesn't see that should look at it like this..... if they charged $1 per ticket last season, per game, they would have had their team payroll paid and then some by the end of the season. Now add in all the ad revenue, which I gather is quite a nice chunk of change (I have heard that it is extremly costly to advertise at the games). Also add in that pretty much everything is advertised... even our national anthem?!

We should start a guess on how many sponsors will be painted on the ice this season. Wasn't there almost 30 last last season?

Raising ticket prices $1 ... is about a 7% increase from last season, which would actually be higher than the 3.2% interest rate the U.S. has.


Thu, 10/05/2006 - 9:22pm

You're right, except how much of the recent raises in ticket prices have been their's and how much has been from the coliseum?

Tony E
Thu, 10/05/2006 - 9:32pm

Puck there are MANY more expenses to operating a hockey team besides player salaries. Things you might not think about like insurance are VERY costly.

Tony E
Thu, 10/05/2006 - 9:34pm

And the Komets ticket prices are probably below average even with an increase. They are even cheaper than going to a OHL Spitfires game. Yes these are in CDN$ but the exchange rate is nothing now.

Thu, 10/05/2006 - 10:27pm

Just look at how much their gas budget must have increased over the past two years. Besides the players' salaries, they also pay for their housing and insurance. Workers comp is what really kills them. Plus, I'm betting league dues when up with fewer teams.

Are they making money? You bet. Welcome to capitalism in America. But I'll make an educated guess that it's not $500,000 or anything like that. Even with the ticket increases, what the Komets get per ticket is less than $10. That is their net on average. The rest goes to the coliseum.

Plus, the money they lost in the IHL, you don't make that all up in four or five years. That's going to take a decade. I'll bet they are still paying off second mortgages and things like that.

They get what the market will bear, just like any other business. If enough people don't buy tickets, they'd have to make some adjustments. That's why they left the IHL for the UHL.

The bottom line is it's a choice that customers make to pay the ticket price. Not to be a jerk, but it's a private business so they get to set the prices. You have the choice whether to pay them or not.

The other issue with the B2 is that the coliseum was going to charge them an origination fee to telecast the events live. They weren't charging the UHL or the B2 that, they were charging the Komets so they would not be making money in any case.

Tony E
Thu, 10/05/2006 - 10:45pm

Really why SHOULDN'T the Komets be allowed to make money? I mean, if I can use the Leafs as an example, they have not won a cup since 1967, yet they sell out every game and are one of the richest franchises in all of professional sports (according to Forbes Magazine). The Leafs have been nothing but mediocre for years because they take the money, spend as little as possible on players because they know that we of the Leafs Nation are going to fork over $200 a ticket no matter what junk they put out there.
Now the Komets have given you several championships during that time and many deep playoff runs. They do not pocket your money. They invest it into the team as best they can and most years give you a winning team to root for. Blake is right, nobody is forcing you to buy a ticket or go to the games. This is recreation pure and simple. Komet ticket and concession prices are not out of line when you compare them to other minor league teams. Gheesh I missed the tiny parking fee in Fort Wayne when Ashley and I were robbed of $15 to park at the Palace for the Who concert last week.

Fri, 10/06/2006 - 2:13am

And now back to my original arguement to which I believe that, IMO, the Frankes are showing no faith, In this Instance, that a scant fewKomet fans would watch the game on the B2 networks not come to thegames.

Tony E
Fri, 10/06/2006 - 7:14am

Well, I guess one thing I am confused on. Will the Komets make anything from B2?

Fri, 10/06/2006 - 7:15am

Not if they have to pay the origination fee.

Tony E
Fri, 10/06/2006 - 9:21am

Then there is no good reason to participate live. If the arena was a sellout I could maybe see it but if not, why do it?

Tom B.
Fri, 10/06/2006 - 12:35pm

I don't know... I never really bought the argument that showing a game on tv (or in this case online) is going to hurt attendance. Apparently, many NHL teams don't have the same belief either.

Example: I live in the Miami area. The Florida Panthers broadcast nearly all their home games on television, and they don't own their arena. I will agree they make $$$ off the broadcast whereas the Komets probably would not, but I really think the impact would be negligible. I don't think I ever decided to not go to a Panthers game because it was on TV.

I think the situation is even more far-fetched with the B2 deal. Maybe I'm missing something, but I didn't see that the B2 service was free anywhere. Do the Frankes really think all these fans will be shelling out $140(!) to watch UHL games across the Internet on their computer? That seems like a pretty steep price for such a luxury. If you need to see hockey that bad, the DirecTV NHL package is the same cost.

If the B2 service is free, someone tell me. I'll watch a game or two :-)