April 15, 2011; Anaheim Ducks vs. Nashville Predators. Credit: Kelvin Kuo-US PRESSWIRE

The Forgotten Fans


The NHL and the NHLPA will meet again this week, this time with Federal Mediators, (let’s see if that changes anything). While the opposing parties meet one can’t help but feel as though a major contributor has not been invited to the negotiating table: the fans.

Fans are starting to feel as though their loyalty and patience has been abused, as well they should. The NHL relies on ticket revenues more then any other of the major sports leagues in North America. Ticket sales make up half of the NHL’s revenue, while the NFL, “got less then 25% of its revenue from ticket sales”, and “the NBA and MLB are 33% and 25% respectively”, (Forbes.com).

For a league that relies so heavily on its fans you sure think they would treat their fans better. I mean, two lockouts in an 8-year span, are you kidding me? The first of those two lockouts cost us an entire season, and the second could very well do the same. Why on earth should fans invest time and money into something that will probably be back here, yet again, 7-8 years from now?

You see, it’s kind of like that person you dated who treated you like crap, but did so thinking you would never break up with them. They do something horrible to you and can see that you’re upset so they say they’re sorry and you guys go back to how things were. But when they do it to you again, do you just accept their apology and go back for a second round? This person has treated you like garbage and for some reason you take it, but for how long? At some point you need to realize you are worth more then what that person values you at, and you walk away. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.

Now it’s not a perfect analogy because I imagine that most reading this post are sitting there thinking, “but I don’t want to walk away from the NHL forever”. Nor do I. But one thing is clear, this “significant other”, (or in this case the NHL/PA), needs to make some changes or fans should walk away.

Actions speak louder then words, yet all we have heard are words. After the last lockout, “Thank You Fans!” was written on the ice. That’s all we got. What do we get with this lockout? More paint on the ice?

Fans need to take a stand. If fans don’t attend games then NHL revenues will take a serious hit. Fans can continue to watch games from home as the TV deals are already signed and increased ratings won’t help the NHL/PA one bit, (but NBC Sports amongst others will be very grateful).

Fans start by deciding to not attend games unless concessions are made. At that point a decision must be made as to what the concessions will be. So what say ye? How about free subscriptions to NHL Center Ice, including the post-season? Or how about slashing ticket prices for the remainder of the season? Or slash prices on merchandise? How about making nearly every game fan appreciation night with free memorabilia?

One thing is certain: fans need to be heard. After all, what helped bring the NFL Referee’s lockout to an end? That’s right, the huge uproar from fans. When fans took to Twitter, Facebook, making videos, etc., it became clear that something had to be done. Sure enough the NFL ended the lockout within a week.

Now I realize that isn’t a perfect parallel but the point still stands. Fans need to unite and be heard. They need to make it known that we are not going to be the girlfriend who keeps running back. If the NHL/PA feared that they were actually alienating a large amount of fans they would do everything in their power to end the lockout and would beg fans to come back.

My point here is not to simply get free stuff, (as nice as that would be). The point is that fans shouldn’t allow themselves to be treated this way when the fact stands that there would be no NHL without fans. Fans have been forgotten in the lockout and should not allow themselves to continue to be treated as such.

The NHL/PA should figure out how to end the lockout then start making plans on setting up a fund, (which both parties contribute to), devoted to bringing back and building up the injured fan base. Unless concessions are made, fans should just watch games from home.

As mothers all over the world teach: actions speak louder than words. Fans need to do more then talk: they need to act. And in turn, the NHL/PA need to act, and stop thinking that apologies are enough to bring fans back. If the NHL/PA does nothing, the same should go for fans. Fans must refuse to be forgotten.

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Tags: Fans Forgotten Lockout NHL NHLPA Revenue Sales Ticket

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