Tom Gaglardi, the new owner of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, has wasted little time trying to endear himself to fans. The Vancouver businessman has taken the unusual step of cutting ticket prices two months into the season.
When the Stars return from their current six-game road trip and face the Anaheim Ducks on December 19, ticket buyers will see price reductions on seats throughout the American Airlines Center in Dallas. Included in the price cuts are the introduction of a $9 ticket (down from $15), which is only available on game days, both online and at the box office.
Among the other price cuts:
• More than 85 percent of the Mezzanine level is now at $25 or less.
• The highest-priced Mezzanine seats are now $40 (down from $45).
• Lower-bowl pricing has gone from five tiers to two: $70 and $110, with more than 63 percent of the lower bowl at $70.
• Premium lower-bowl, center-ice seats are $110 (down from $150).
Gaglardi took over ownership of the Stars in mid-November after the franchise had fallen into bankruptcy under previous owner Tom Hicks.
“One of the first things we did as a management team was look at individual ticket prices,” Gaglardi said in a statement announcing the prices last week. “The fans spoke and we listened. We’re pleased that we can now offer a $9 ticket, and we feel that these new prices make Stars games more affordable. Our team needs a full building every night to give us a true home-ice advantage.”
Even before these reductions, Team Marketing Report’s survey of NHL ticket prices showed the Stars had the lowest average ticket price in the league at $29.95. Part of that low average stemmed from discount deals and giveaways used to boost attendance.
The Stars (16-11-1) are in first place in the Pacific Division, but so far they rank 29th out of 30 NHL teams in average attendance (11,469) at the 18,500-seat arena. Last season, they averaged 17,215 attendees — 17th in the NHL. And most recently, the Stars drew 14,428 in their previous home game, a 5-4 loss to the New York Islanders on December 3.
Team president and CEO Jim Lites, who was brought back for a second stint in Dallas by Gaglardi after the sale was completed, has said individual ticket pricing is the first step in rebuilding attendance. The team has a base of about 6,000 season ticket holders, and officials said those prices will be addressed in the near future.
Lites said the new ownership’s market research showed ticket affordability was a negative among fans. So taking a lesson from baseball’s Texas Rangers — who reduced concession and parking prices after their in-season ownership change in August 2010 — the Stars took on reducing individual ticket prices right away.
“We want to take advantage of the attention that is on us,” Lites told ESPNDallas.com. “The team is performing real well so eyes are on us.”
Some of the Stars’ slow ticket sales this season can be attributed to home games going up against the Rangers’ second consecutive World Series appearance. Plus, there’s always competition from college and high-school football games in October and November in a state where that sport is king.