Ice hockey season-ticket drive extended
|Tuesday, December 27, 2005 |
City may be close to getting an AHL team at DCU center
WORCESTER— The season-ticket drive to bring the American Hockey League back here next season has been extended for two weeks amid signs that the city is close to landing a team for the 2006-07 season.
As of Christmas, season-ticket pledges stood at 1,308, well short of the original goal of 3,000. That the drive is being extended through Jan. 15 is an indication that something is going on. Since the goal of 3,000 obviously is not going to be met, or even approached, the only reason for keeping the drive alive is that there’s a prospective AHL franchise waiting to move in with the expectation that when the announcement is made, it will create a new wave of ticket sales.
That announcement could come within the next two weeks.
A press release regarding the extension said that City Manager Michael V. O’Brien is scheduled to meet this week with several potential teams. In that press release, Mr. O’Brien said, “These meetings will provide the feedback we need at this point to know if what we’ve accomplished to date shows the level of commitment necessary.”
There are three suspended AHL franchises in mothballs at present, and at least a few others that might be open to improving their situations by relocating. The suspended franchises are in Edmonton, Canada; Salt Lake City and Cincinnati. Salt Lake City is being shopped around, Edmonton is interested in finding a home, and Cincinnati currently is holding its own season-ticket drive in hopes of attracting an NHL affiliation for next season.
The bottom five AHL teams in attendance so far this season are Bridgeport, Lowell, Springfield, Cleveland and Omaha, Neb.
While the press release mentioned that the city was talking with several teams, one in particular seems to have the inside track. No one has said which team that is.
The committee behind the ticket drive will use the next couple of weeks to concentrate on getting commitments from businesses, an area that the Worcester IceCats found to be difficult during its tenure here.
“We’ve had a very good response to date,” Mr. O’Brien said, “but we need a focused follow-up campaign with the business (community).”
DCU Center general manager Sandy Dunn said that after an initial surge following the start of the season-ticket drive, activity hit a wall. A byproduct of the push to sell season tickets, she said, was getting feedback from fans and businesses who are interested in the return of the AHL to the city.
Many fans, Ms. Dunn said, simply don’t want to commit until they know for sure that there will be a team at the DCU Center next season. They likely will know soon.