Friday, November 6, 2015

To Buy Or Not To Buy: 2016 Season Tickets

Last year around this time I discussed my decision to purchase 2015 season tickets.  As part of that I said that if the then-current Rapids woes continue I would be pressuring Centennial 38 (C38) to not renew the season ticket deal they had with the Front Office as that was the only way for C38 season ticket members to put pressure on the Front Office.  During this season I talked to most of the C38 board members about the ticket deal and my feeling that we shouldn’t be making a deal with the Rapids.  In the end C38 did make another season ticket deal with the Front Office that includes my seat for 2016.  So that leaves me in the same bind I was in last season with my decision having a more direct impact on C38 than on the Rapids.

As part of my decision making I reached out to the C38 board to ask them a couple of questions about their plans for both 2016 and, should the poor performance of the team continue, 2017.  They had a discussion about my questions at a recent board meeting and sent me a reply which they’re happy for me to share here.  Here are the questions I asked:
  • In light of the current plan being discussed publicly for the 2016 season by the Rapids front office which appears to be minimal changes to what they did this year, what can C38 offer fans as a good reason to buy/renew season tickets for next season?
  • Should 2016 not see a significant improvement over the last two years on the field has the C38 board discussed what the strategy will be when discussing 2017 ticket options with the Rapids?  If I decide to get tickets for 2016 I don't want to be asking my first question again at this time next year.
Here is the Centennial 38 board's combined answer to my two questions:

First, I think the thing to be clear on here is that no one in C38 can be happy with how the season has gone and how last year finished. It’s created more challenges for the group to have to tackle and, just as individual fans, has been heart breaking to see the team we love struggle so profusely on the field. As for why to renew or purchase a ticket for next season, there is a huge personal element to that as everyone has their own specific breaking point.  Why we think that people should renew or get their tickets through C38 though is fairly extensive.

First, we create an atmosphere that is far and above what just happens on the field. We have the best pre-game tailgate in the league every single home game where you can socialize and enjoy a portion of your day that lasts longer than the game itself. It’s a chance to meet new people, catch up with friends you may only see at games and just enjoy the community as a whole. On top of that, revenue created stays within the group and helps pay for things like tifo or equipment for the tailgate, etc.
Second, C38, because of leveraging our size through a bulk ticket purchase, is able to provide special events and team access that you just don’t get otherwise. Your renewal or purchase supports that.  For example, in the last year, we have hosted 500 members in the lower bowl of the Pepsi Center for an Avs game, we get special items for giveaways and player appearances at our several member events, the All Star Game party where 400 people got to enjoy free food, drinks and transportation to the game, the Elitches viewing party mid-season and the great kickoff party for 400 folks are all possible because of your support of the group by buying tickets through C38.

Also, and probably more importantly, is just the simple love of the sport and this team. We get how bad they have been the last 2 years and we aren’t doing the ticket deal with the front office as an endorsement of that performance. The reason we are doing it though is that enough of our folks are wanting to come back due to that love of the badge and we want to support them in that pursuit. By buying the large block and people taking part in that, we are able to control pricing. This is a major reason why we do it, along with some desired autonomy in the stadium, and people buying through C38 continues the ability of the group to be able to provide that. Over the past 3 seasons, that total savings for members is in the 6 figure amount.

The ticket deal that we do through the front office helps provide for and protect the C38 community. The security issues are miniscule compared to before 2013 when we first bought the sections. It offers chances to help out members when they are in a pinch, create some great giveaways, events, offset away trip costs, and the like, plus it keeps all your money within that independent community.
Lastly, we are going to buy a large block of tickets regardless as it supports our members in the multiple ways mentioned above that want to continue coming out. It would be money already spent and buying through C38 isn’t an endorsement of the team’s current status or add to the KSE coffers if that is a form of protest that is important to you. You won’t be spending your money with KSE, but instead you will be putting it into a group that will then put any remaining money back into you and the group. 

As for the future, we have made some adjustments to the plan. Instead of renewing for 3 years, we are only signing on for a single year. We are doing this as a response to the team’s recent form. A multi-year deal right now is not consistent with the commitment to improvement we expect to see on the field.  In addition to that, we are retracting our total purchase number by at least 200 seats because, as it stands, this isn’t a product that commands our previous ticket commitment. It also helps the group stay viable, but it still warrants the support of its members that are dedicated to this team win or lose. Ultimately though, the team needs to improve to keep this idea of owning multiple sections of the stadium in place. That is why we are culling it back in years and total number, to allow us to assess as the season ends.

I want to extend my appreciation to the C38 board for taking the time to seriously consider my questions and give me a well-reasoned response.  While I don’t agree with everything in the response it was well thought out and I understand where the board is coming from.

I am glad to see there is some pressure being exerted on the Front Office in the form of a shorter contract for fewer tickets.  The only way anything changes at this point is if the Rapids make less money due to the play on the field.  That said C38 is locking in two large groups of tickets (Section 108 and the Terraces) after two failed seasons so that  has to be a nice base for Tim Hinchey to build from as he works on the 2016 season ticket numbers.

At this point I still don’t know what I’m going to do for 2016.  As bad as this team is I still enjoy going to games but it has nothing to do with the Rapids at this and everything to do with Centennial 38.  From the great tailgate crew through the friends around me in the stands (including that Zero I referenced last year ;) ) I have a good time out at the stadium.  I just hate the fact that I feel like I’m rewarding the team for failure at this point.

One decision I’ve made regardless is that I’m cutting back on how much time I’m giving to the team each game.  For the last 7+ years I’ve been part of the C38 tailgate crew doing 80% of the soda purchasing and delivering for the tailgates.  That’s meant being at the tailgate from the beginning almost every home game which means a Rapids game takes 6-7 hours of my day (including drive time) each time.  I’ve been happy to do it but I’ve done enough.  If I renew my tickets I’ll only be doing soda for about a third of the tailgates which means most games I can reduce that time to something around 4.5 hours (if I still want to stop by and see everyone at the tailgate) to as little as 3.5 hours if I show up just before kickoff.   That’s all this team deserves at this point and my wife will appreciate not seeing half of our summer Saturdays completely lost to soccer. :D

I’m going to have to think about this question for a while longer.  Maybe the Rapids will do something to show they’re actually going to improve (Carlos Vela?) which would make my decision easier.  The announcement in the Denver Post yesterday that Pablo will be back certainly gave me no reason to get excited and buy tickets though.  If I, as the oldest fan blogger for the team, am seriously considering not buying season tickets what does that say about the state of the fan base and can the Rapids really afford another lost season?

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