While their next hockey season is still several months away, the Kootenay Ice front office has been busier than ever with their season seat drive entering a crucial stage.
The ‘Drive to 25’, an initiative which began last year with the intention of reaching 2,500 season seat holders for the WHL club, has three weeks remaining for ‘early bird’ rates. According to Ice President and General Manager Matt Cockell, the response from the community has been great so far.
“We’re going to be working really hard with a number of group events and promotions planned for the final push, which is May 18th, the deadline for our early bird pricing,” Cockell told the Townsman on Wednesday. “We’re trying to get the message out to the community [about] the affordability of Ice games, especially the early bird prices.”
Don't miss out on meeting L'il Freeze, @ICE_shivers and ICE staff members at the event.
— Kootenay ICE (@WHLKootenayICE) April 30, 2018
As of Wednesday afternoon, 1,275 season seats had been sold and with just over three weeks left with the current price structure, Cockell is optimistic that the team will see that number rise substantially. After taking control of operations a year ago, he says that the comments received from Ice fans has helped improved both the way tickets are sold and their rates.
“We feel [our structure for season seats and our early bird rates] really address the feedback we’ve gotten from the community, especially as it relates to families and kids coming to games at a very affordable price,” Cockell said. “Our family value pack, two adults, two kids, works out to just under $39 for the entire family to come to a game and that’s just over $9 per game for the whole season.”
In addition, Cockell said that value for adults with early bird season seats could work out to $15 a game and just over $11 for seniors. He added that they have also formalized a ‘Donate Your Seat’ charitable program and have introduced a payroll deduction program.
“Last year we had some very generous folks who wanted to donate their seats to Ice youth programming [and other] community groups,” Cockell explained.” They were embraced so much by the community, that we actually ended up not having enough tickets to meet the demand, [so] this year we’ve formalized that program.
“[Anyone interested] can simply fill out a season seat form [and we can] continue to expand those programs.”
The payroll deduction program, on the other hand, is an opportunity for employers to offer a benefit to their employees with flexible payment options and is available until June 29.
While the Kootenay Ice had a renaissance attendance year under their new management, with 1,731 season seat holders and 2,442 average fans at every game, up from 1,315 season seat holders and 1,754 fans in 2016-17, Cockell is still striving for more.
“Our players certainly really enjoy the engagement when the fans are here and when the building is at 2,600 as opposed to 2,200. It’s a noticeable difference in terms of atmosphere,” he said. “It creates momentum and allows us to do more from a game fan experience standpoint.”
As for the value of season seats versus buying single-game tickets and being a casual fan, Cockell believes the difference is extraordinary.
“When you purchase a season seat, you’re part of our family,” Cockell explained. “Our season seat holders are very engaged with us in terms of feedback and are [also] able to help with the game experience.
“[The East Kootenays] are a community that, historically, have been able to punch above its weight class and for us, in a market of this size, a season seat holder base is really reflective of the level of participation in the team and the engagement of the team.”
As part of the ongoing “Drive to 25’ campaign, the Ice will be holding their second annual Family Fun Barbeque on Saturday, May 12 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Bridge Interiors. In addition to being able to purchase season seats at the event, there will also be food and beverages available, as well as a bouncy castle, a chalk art contest, the team mascots in attendance, and plenty more fun.
A banner for the Humboldt Broncos organization will also be on-site and it will be the last chance for fans to write a message of support before it’s delivered to the Broncos organization.