It has been a little over week since Ed Lang was named president of business operations for the Nashville Predators, but he feels like he has dealt with a year’s worth of work.
Lang has been with the Predators since the franchise was in its initial formation stage. He has seen what has worked and what hasn’t especially in the area of ticket sales to both the corporate segment as well as for individual fans. He has plans to possibly reinstate some of the things that worked, but he is also seeking new ways to bring new fans to the Sommet Center.
“We are evaluating the Premium Plus pricing program,” Lang said. “We haven’t made any decisions, but that is definitely something we are looking at closely.
“The other thing we have going is that we have set up a marketing committee that is made up of people in the community that could maybe help us with marketing ideas. We can also bounce ideas off of them.”
Members of that group include Ron Samuels, CEO of Avenue Bank; and Ralph Schulz, president and CEO of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, who were both part of the “Our Team” season ticket effort for the Predators in the summer and fall.
“We also have a former sales executive and a former chief marketing officer in that group,” Lang said. “Both have been successful. They are all helping us look at things in different perspective.”
While most of the strategies are in the planning stages, he has wasted no time using members of the local ownership group to talk with various businesses about ticket sales.
“Our local owners all have a lot of contacts in this community,” Lang said. “That is one of the biggest things. You have to be able to get in front of the right people in an organization to talk to them about their product, what we can do for them and how they can best use our tickets.”
Both Tom Cigarran and David Freeman, the chairman of the local group, have met face-to-face with prospects. They are also helping the ticket and marketing departments open doors that may have been previously closed.
“We have had some success with the new owners going with us on sales calls,” Lang said. “Tom went on a couple of sales calls with us and Tuesday we got a call from one of those companies that is going to buy 1,000 for a group night at one game.
“David Freeman has met a couple of former sponsors. They have an interest in getting back in with us. I think a lot of these people like the newness and freshness of a new, local group of people coming in to own the team. There is kind of a renewed sense of pride. They are taking the time to listen to us and we are having some success.”
While the 14,000 per-game paid attendance average was a part of the old lease agreement, attendance numbers are important in terms of revenue sharing. Lang thinks the Predators could move well beyond the 14,000 level.
“Last year through the regular season were at 13,500,” Lang said. “Our second season we were averaging 15,300. We were OK, but were by no means a playoff team. And we had no big-name players. I can’t see why we can’t get back to the 15,000 level with the exciting team we have now.”
The Predators have already discounted group sales ticket pricing a move that Lang is hopeful will help show attendance increases in late January or February.
“We are trying to do things quickly, but we are also taking our time to plan things out,” Lang said. “We have a loyal, great base of fans. We need to reach out to more fans whether they are business owners, corporations or individuals.”
In addition to ticket sales, Lang has also been heavily involved in the hiring of some new personnel. Three members of the sales and marketing department have left including vice president Steve Violetta. With so much of the past several months hanging in an almost limbo situation because of the sale of the team by Craig Leipold, Lang is also spending time with staff members and helping to renew their enthusiasm.
Predators fans have three more opportunities to see the team at home before the end of 2007. The Los Angeles Kings visit the Sommet Center Saturday night. The Columbus Blue Jackets visit Dec. 27 and the San Jose Sharks are in town Dec. 29.
PREDS FALL AGAIN: The Predators lost in Chicago to the Blackhawks on Wednesday 5-2. The loss was the fifth straight for the Predators and seventh of their last eight games overall. J.P. Dumont and Radek Bonk each had power-play goals for the Predators.
ALL-STAR COUNT: Based on the latest reports on balloting to the 2008 NHL All-Star Game in Atlanta, Predators center Jason Arnott is rated 11th among forwards in the Western Conference in fan voting with 93.254 votes. Center David Legwand is 31st with 10,419.