Predators Take Back Ticketing

Nashville Predators recapture their arena via ticketing

  • by Tim Newcomb
  • Published: December 6, 2017

Nashville Predators put plan in place to control secondary market through mobile ticketing.

The word disheartening doesn’t quite do justice to the feeling players and staff of the Nashville Predators of the National Hockey League (NHL) felt when 9,000 fans of the opposing team descended upon Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tenn., for games in the 17,000-seat venue.

The Predators decided to do something about it.

“We were losing our home-ice advantage,” said Nat Harden, the team’s senior VP of ticket sales. “If we sell season-ticket packages to fans, we can maintain the home-ice advantage. We made a concerted effort not to resell to ticket brokers.”

Harden said that about four years ago the team saw the issues of ticket brokers buying up season tickets and reselling them to opposing fans. With Nashville a destination city, and the team’s venue located on Broadway, fans of teams other than Nashville were flocking to the arena and filling over half of it. “If you have a lot of tickets on the secondary market, it opens up the ability for opposing team fans,” Harden said. So, in 2015 the Predators formulated a plan and have moved from having one of the highest number of tickets available on the secondary market to next to last in the 31-team league. A more aggressive approach in 2017 has finished off a plan that now has Nashville with an average of 146 ticket listings per game, 64 percent below the NHL average.

The plan to remove ticket brokers from the Predators started with selling season tickets only to those the team knew. With 13,500—about 80 percent—of the building sold in a full-season equivalent, this first step made a difference, Harden said. Sales staff must gain manager approval before selling more than four season tickets to a single party and if someone from out of the area requests season tickets, the team researches who they are. “We want to make sure we are selling to people coming to the games,” Harden said.

Harden said it wasn’t easy for the team to come out to a building over half full of opposing team fans and it really devalued the brand to their own season-ticket holders. Having actual fans buying tickets eliminates brokers, allows the team to manage the price of tickets on the secondary market and helps the team control every single game.

The team also shifted from hard and paper tickets to season-ticket ID cards, helping reduce the deluge of tickets floating about without any way to track them. It also helped the team identify ticket brokers and remove them. But the final piece of the strategy came to play this season, as the team shifted to a fully mobile ticketing platform.

Going fully mobile allows the team to control how tickets get managed, such as not sending barcodes until 48 hours before the event and taking the resale button off the ticket for certain games (fans always have the option on those days to sell back the ticket or exchange it for a future game). “The fan base understands what we are trying to do and why we are doing it,” Harden said. “To build a home-ice advantage we had to build an atmosphere of 95-percent Predator fans.”

Moving fully mobile gives the team a more robust wealth of information about fans, as all fans must download the team app and input information in order to use tickets. Already this season the Predators database of fans has grown by over 20 percent. “They were probably going to our games in the past, but we didn’t know,” he said. The mobile strategy has also eliminated the need for long will-call lines and sped up entry into the venue.

“We have made huge strides,” Harden said. “Going in you hope that it works and you have a plan to be where we are at right now. I am really, really proud of where we are. We put together a plan to control the secondary market and to implement it to where we are now. We are very excited.”
 

  • by Tim Newcomb
  • Published: December 6, 2017