Islanders Making Tickets Affordable to Entice New Fans

Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Brent Johnson (1) poke checks the puck away from New York Islanders John Tavares (91) during the third period in the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 shutout victory against the New York Islanders at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The New York Islanders are doing something very few New York City area teams seem capable of: cutting their season ticket prices.

The goal of the price cut is to attract new season ticket holders and grow the Islanders’ season ticket base. Over 60% of current season ticket holders will pay less for their tickets and over 80% will now receive free parking.

The Islanders have the NHL’s worst attendance, averaging just 10,650 fans per game, a little less than 2/3 of Nassau Coliseum’s capacity.

The Islanders are struggling in a lot of ways. Struggling to win. Struggling to attract fans. Struggling to stay in Long Island. But the team keeps trying. Lowering season ticket prices is a great way to attract hockey fans who might have once been fans, but are now out of the hockey fold.

It also looks especially attractive in light of the New York Rangers’ massive ticket hike for next season: Rangers season tickets will go up 23% next year to help defray the cost of Madison Square Garden rennovations.

The Islanders are probably hoping to grab Rangers fans who have been priced out of the Garden. And given that a fair number of Rangers fans live on Long Island, it’s a smart strategy. I imagine a fair number of fans might prefer cheaper tickets and a shorter commute to higher prices and a longer drive or train ride.

There is the whole, ‘I’m a Rangers fan, not an Islanders fan’ thing, as well as the Islanders/Rangers rivalry, but I suspect for a lot of people who love hockey, the teams aren’t as important as they once were. Players move constantly, so to a certain degree the concept of team is different than it was 20 years ago. And in a tough economy, a financial savings is worth more than team allegiance.

I’m still not sure about the long-term ability of the Islanders to survive on Long Island, but you have to be impressed by their willingness to get creative in an attempt to make themselves viable. Cutting ticket prices doesn’t seem horribly innovative or creative, but when you consider how few teams across sports are willing to make their games more affordable to fans, it looks like a brilliant move.

Hopefully, it’ll pay off for the team.