Cougars drop ticket prices for se­niors, youths

The Prince George Citizen - - Sports - Ted CLARKE Cit­i­zen staff [email protected]­i­t­i­

In re­sponse to pop­u­lar de­mand, the Prince Ge­orge Cougars have brought back age-based pric­ing to their ticket pric­ing strat­egy.

Kids aged two to 18 and se­niors 65 and older will pay less for sea­son sub­scrip­tions for games at CN Cen­tre if they choose to sit in ei­ther main grand­stand sec­tion (Red Zone) be­tween the two goal lines or the end zone be­hind the goal line (Blue Zone) in which the Cougars are the at­tack­ing team for the first and third pe­ri­ods.

A sea­son mem­ber­ship in the Red Zone in­clud­ing all fees will cost each adult $650 ($19.11 per game, based on 34-game home sched­ule), while the Red Zone price for se­niors and youths drops to $495 ($14.56 per game). In the Blue Zone an adult sea­son mem­ber­ship is $550 ($16.18 per game), and $495 for se­niors/ youth ($14.56 per game).

The discounted rate does not ap­ply to the White Zone (Cougars’ end zone), Green Zone (glass seats in the at­tack­ing zone) or Pur­ple Zone (glass seats in the Cougars’ end). White Zone sea­son mem­ber­ships will cost $430 ($12.64 per game). A Green Zone sea­son ticket is $285 ($8.38 per game) and a Pur­ple Zone mem­ber­ship costs $262 ($7.70 per game).

“We con­tinue to lis­ten closely to our cus­tomers be­cause a ma­jor part of our job is to give cus­tomers what they want and we feel as if we’ve had some very good feed­back about our choices for pric­ing these days,” said Andy Beesley, the Cougars vice-pres­i­dent busi­ness.

“We wanted to ac­knowl­edge the fact there are still some peo­ple, espe­cially in our most ex­pen­sive seats, who want to come to our games and sit in sec­tions they used to sit in but they need some sort of a (price) break and we’re quite happy to do it.”

In May 2017 the club an­nounced it was drop­ping age-based ticket pric­ing, choos­ing in­stead to sell tick­ets based on where the seats are lo­cated in the arena. The ini­tial four-tiered sys­tem dropped the price of tick­ets in the first four rows of seats be­hind the nets to $7 per game. But it also raised the price of a sea­son ticket as much as 60 per cent for se­niors in the most ex­pen­sive seats. In re­sponse, sev­eral hun­dred long­time sub­scribers de­cided not to re­new their ticket sub­scrip­tions.

“I think we’re way past that,” said Beesley.

“For sure some peo­ple were happy and some peo­ple were un­happy about our prices. What we never talk about is the fact we’ve also gained a great deal of new cus­tomers that are very happy with our prices. We now have fam­i­lies with young kids who buy full-blown sea­son mem­ber­ships who never in a mil­lion years would have come to us be­fore, with our old pric­ing struc­ture.

“The last thing the Prince Ge­orge Cougars want to do in this com­mu­nity is to be un­wel­com­ing or un­re­spon­sive to cus­tomers and we’ve heard enough com­ments that we’ve thought we’re to­tally will­ing to ad­just even fur­ther to try and make this so we’re as flex­i­ble as pos­si­ble with our prices.”

Beesley said the Cougars com­pare favourably with other teams in the league and in other ma­jor ju­nior leagues across Canada.

“I don’t think there’s any other teams in the league that do $7.70 games,” said Beesley.

“Our Red Zone prices, which are our most ex­pen­sive sea­son mem­ber­ships, are very com­pet­i­tive (com­pared) to other B.C. teams. Now that we’re of­fer­ing breaks to se­niors and youth if they choose to sit in those most ex­pen­sive zones we’re lim­it­ing what they have to pay to what we think is a very rea­son­able price.”

The team will an­nounce in the fall the prices for its walk-up tick­ets, which will give fans five zone ticket choices as well as se­nior/ youth dis­counts.

In 2013-14, the sea­son be­fore the team was sold to EDGEPRo Sports & En­ter­tain­ment Ltd., the Cougars av­er­aged a league-low 1,693 fans per game. The change in own­er­ship re­sulted in a surge in at­ten­dance, av­er­ag­ing 2,852 in 2014-15, 3,122 in 2015-16 and 3,626 in 2016-17. Af­ter three con­sec­u­tive sea­sons of at­ten­dance in­creases crowds at Cougar games have de­clined in each of the past two sea­sons, from 3,024 in 201718 (when age-based pric­ing was dropped) to 2,707 in 2018-19. It didn’t help that the team stum­bled on the ice, fin­ish­ing last in the Western Con­fer­ence this past sea­son with a 19-41-5-3 record.

Ac­cord­ing to hock­, that 2,707 av­er­age last sea­son ranked the Cougars 19th in at­ten­dance in the 22-team WHL, ahead of only Prince Al­bert (2,615), Swift Cur­rent (2,398) and Koote­nay (2,214). Of the B.C.-based teams, Kelowna led the way with a 4,838 av­er­age (sev­enth-best), fol­lowed by Vic­to­ria (4,818, eighth), Kam­loops (4,007, 11th) and Vancouver (3,826, 14th). Ed­mon­ton led the league in at­ten­dance (7,661) fol­lowed by Cal­gary (7,363) and Spokane (5,959).

“I don’t see us suf­fer­ing at all,” said Beesley.

“On the worst night, at mi­nus-30 on a Tues­day on a dou­ble­header we still had over 2,000 le­git­i­mate tick­ets out there. On our best night, the last night of the sea­son in a mean-noth­ing game, we had 5,200 peo­ple in the build­ing. We had close to 100,000 le­git­i­mate tick­ets out there this year for our games. Would we like another 1,000 peo­ple per game, of course we would, and we are cer­tainly hop­ing we can build our num­bers this sea­son.

“We un­der­stand that win­ning is part of the equa­tion but we also know that even when our team is in a re­build­ing phase we have great en­ter­tain­ment here ev­ery night and un­be­liev­able ticket prices.”

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