Sports Biz with Darren Rovell

Bad Play, Free Ticket Is Marketing Ploy Of Future

Leonardo Gonzalez of the Seattle Sounders FC battles Chris Klein of the Los Angeles Galaxy on May 8, 2010 at Qwest Field in Seattle, Washington.The Galaxy defeated the Sounders 4-0.
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After a bad loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy, the Seattle Sounders said they’d refund their season ticket holders for the game because of how poorly the team played.

The idea reportedly came from a player, Steve Zakuani, who said that the fans shouldn’t have to pay. Remarkably, the Sounders soon announced that the game would in fact be refunded to the team’s 32,000 season ticket holders.

The key is that refund will be made in the form of a credit against next year’s tickets. In that fashion, the team really isn’t losing that revenue. You can almost look at it as an incentive to buy next year’s tickets at a cheaper price.

This isn’t the first time it was done.

We’ve seen it done with soccer matches in Europe, with perhaps the most remarkable recent case being what members of the Wigan team did after they lost to Tottenham in the Premier League in November. The players personally footed the bill to pay the fans back for their poor performance.

With many Major League Baseball teams struggling at the gate, now is the time for some of these teams to institute some sort of good play guarantee. If the team doesn’t play well, as subjectively classified by the team, the team has the option of giving the game’s ticket holders its money back in the form of a credit for another game.

Why does this work? It might get more people into the park and will certainly drive concession sales. Secondly, if you work it as a credit, at worst, you’ll get the fan back to sample another game.

To increase the value, teams can also tie the credit to a sponsor. In order to redeem your ticket, you’d have to pick it up at a sponsor’s place of business.

Pro teams can learn from the Minor Leagues of course, where the River City Rascals this year are offering win insurance. If you purchase $2 win insurance through their insurance sponsor and the team doesn’t win, you get your game for free, but you have to pick it up at the insurance agency office.

Time for teams that are struggling at the gate to get creative.

Questions?  Comments?