Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Go Caps!

I always look forward to the beginning of my favorite sports seasons: college and pro football, hockey, baseball. This year, I have been fortunate enough to get a small package with the Nats. I can't even use the whole thing, but I've enjoyed it and I feel like I'm in early on something that could be better down the road.

So now it's time to start thinking hockey. I played hockey as a kid in Los Angeles in the 1970s, and attended lots of Saturday games at the Forum with my Dad. In fact, my whole hockey life is suffering. First as a Kings fan in L.A., leaving a few years before Gretzky arrived. Then living in South Carolina, nowhere near hockey. Then I arrive in D.C. AFTER the Caps get to the Stanley Cup. They've been less-than-impressive for most of the past seven years, but they have one thing that augurs in their favor: owner Ted Leonsis. If he's not the most accessible owner in sports, he's close to it. He talks to the media, to fans, he answers e-mail, he makes movies (does the guy sleep?) He is now putting on the full charm offensive, trying to get fans to pony up to support a team that just might, after a few years in the wilderness, make a decent run. I even forgive him for the Jagr debacle.

And yet, when he suggests that the laws of economics might actually apply to hockey team ownership too, he gets full -throated grief from his fans. (Registration required). In a nutshell for the unregistered, Ted suggested that if demand can increase enough to where Caps tickets are really a hot ticket, he might raise ticket prices. Now, I'm thinking, gee, I'd like to be on the inside of that deal, before the ticket prices go up! But some of the fans are thinking, "You can't do that to me!" I missed the part where hockey was an entitlement. I thought it was a free marketplace. Ted, get more money, spend some on players, turn the Caps into the NHL Yankees! I'm for that! Sometimes I wonder what people missed in econ 101.

Ted owes me nothing. He's making phone calls to season ticket owners, of which I'm not one. And I know owning a sports team is an expensive and no doubt money-losing proposition. I certainly don't have to go -- it's discretionary dollars. But to me, he makes a good case. Create demand for a product. Make that product better. Make it a more exclusive experience. Reward those who participate early. Take some profits, plow it back into the product to make it better. Rinse, wash, repeat.

This year, I plan to support the Caps with my hard-earned dollars.
Plus, there's always that horn guy. Let's Go Caps!

UPDATE: I bought an 11 game plan. Ted didn't call me, but that's OK.



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