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July 26, 2005 - Not all fans will return to Flyers

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Not all fans will return to Flyers

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Courier-Post Staff

Marlton's Ralph Olsen received a package in the mail last week from the Flyers. It was an authentic Flyers jersey signed by team captain Keith Primeau.

"I guess they really want me back," said Olsen, a Flyers season-ticket holder since 1999.

Olsen, 44, said he'll keep the jersey, but he's not renewing his season ticket plan, which in 2003-04 cost him roughly $3,200 for each ticket, not including the playoffs.

"I'll still go to games," said Olsen, who has three teenage sons who are hockey fans, "but I'm not getting a full game plan. They lost me as a season-ticket holder."

Olsen is precisely the fan the Flyers are trying to win back with their "Back Where We Belong" campaign, a marketing blitz designed to make people forget about the labor lockout that wiped out the entire 2004-05 NHL season.

They've reduced the season-ticket prices in the 7,000-seat lower bowl of the Wachovia Center by $16 (from $85 to $69); the first 11 rows of the Mezzanine Level by $10.50 (from $55 to $44.50); two other Mezzanine levels by $8.25 and $7 (from $40 to $31.75 and from $45 to $38); and the highest seats in the house by $3 (from $23 to $20).

They've even created two Family Sections in which adult tickets can be purchased for $20 and tickets for children 12 and under will be $10.

According to Shawn Tilger, the Flyers' vice president of marketing and communications, the public relations push is working.

"Immediately following (Saturday's) press conference and the rollout of our advertising campaign, the response was incredible," Tilger said. "We have received hundreds of calls and e-mails requesting season ticket information. Responses have been overwhelmingly positive and, overall, people are very excited."

Tilger said the Flyers' ticket office received more than 300 phone calls and more than 700 e-mails requesting information on season tickets. He said the club was forced to hire additional customer service and sales representatives.

The Flyers are hoping the buzz continues on Wednesday when the NHL announces its 2005-06 schedule. Under a new format designed to enhance rivalries, the Flyers will face their Atlantic Division rivals eight times; other conference opponents four times each and play 10 games against teams from the Western Conference.

The Flyers will host the five teams from the Northwest Division (Vancouver, Colorado, Calgary, Edmonton and Minnesota) and visit the five Central Division teams (Detroit, Nashville, St. Louis, Chicago and Columbus).

Matt Davey, who works the front window at the Mt. Ephraim post office, said he attended three or four Flyers games a season before the NHL lockout and will probably attend just as many this season.

"When they start, I'll have to go back," he said. "If I said no, I know I'd be lying. I can't afford to go to every game, but I'll watch every game on television, I know that."