After a red-hot finish to the 2013 NHL regular season, the Columbus Blue Jackets have seen an increase in season ticket sales over the past several weeks. According to the team, season ticket sales are up 13 percent from one year ago when the Blue Jackets had one of their worst season’s in franchise history.
Last season, the team sold approximately 7,000 season tickets. This summer, Columbus has already sold over 1,000 season tickets to fans who have upgraded to larger ticket packages, and we haven’t even reached the halfway point of the Stanley Cup Playoffs yet. The spike in ticket sales is promising for a franchise that lost over $80 million from the 2004-2005 lockout through the 2011 season, including a loss of $25 million in a single season.
In the first part of the shortened season, things weren’t looking much better for the Blue Jackets who were sitting dead last in the NHL in February. But then, the team got hot, finishing out the year 19-5-5 after a 5-12-2 start to the year. Columbus tied Minnesota for eighth place in the Western Conference, but lost out on the final playoff spot due to a tiebreaker.
During their final home game of the year, the Blue Jackets drew a crowd of 19,002, and saw over 17,000 fans in the two home games prior to their finale. While they may have missed out on the playoffs, there seems to be a new attitude about hockey in Columbus.
“There’s no question a lot of the conversations are more pleasant than they were perhaps last year,” Blue Jackets senior vice-president and chief marketing officer John Browne said with a laugh. “People are very emotional about it, very passionate about it. They want their opinion to be heard. There’s no question over the last few months as the team continued to play really well, those less-than-friendly conversations are far fewer than they were.”
Next season, the Blue Jackets will move to the Eastern Conference as part of the league’s realignment, which is designed to make travel easier on teams like the Blue Jackets and Winnipeg Jets, both whom experienced long road trips across the country for conference games. The realignment will also help create more regional rivalries, and allow fans to have an easier time when watching broadcasts of road games, as they won’t have to worry as much about time differences with their teams not traveling to the west coast as much.