The Day The Isles Fan Stood Still! Why Fans Seem MIA This Season

Sure it’s early, but it is concerning that the fans haven’t come out as much as they did as opposed to last year. There are several issues and the usual baggage that comes along for the ride as they do in every year for Islanders fans. However, I thought we could take a look at some things that might be affecting the ticket sales bottom line…

1. Chris Dey’s departure?

Sure he looked a bit like the geek version of Jeff Spicoli, or to me he was doppledanger to Ted in How I Met Your Mother. One thing he had going two summers ago when he ran the business was open houses to generate constant interest and communication to Joe and Jane fan. It was integral to keep in touch with the core fan, something they only do now on a selective basis by a bunch of guys who look like they just fell out of a bad sequel to the Boilerroom. With him and others, there was an openness and willing to invite fans, bloggers and others in. I’ve definitely noticed a difference post-Dey, and wouldn’t some open houses this past summer have created a bit more interest and excitement? It would have made bringing home the training camp a one-two punch to get fans back in the fold.

2. No real post-draft BUZZ.  

Last draft was a bit less on the WowMeter despite that most think the pick of Nino Niederreiter was a good move. Last draft had only very few dynamic forwards, and Nino was considered one of those. The Isles destroyed many a armchair draft QB assumption of defense or too many who read other bloggers for draft guidance. Obviously other teams drafts also agreed as players like Gormley and Fowler well past the Isles.

Isles consider El Nino a sure fire NHLer and that’s why they targeted him as their pick….however, there was not the same hype machine or anything else of the sort, thus no real ticket buzz.

Has the LHP turned into a flat can of Coke?

3. The Lighthouse still stands on the precipice.

 Not much to add here as the Lighthouse went dark almost a year ago as their “masterminds” got folded into the organization last spring. Reported here over 6 months ago by myself and Nick Giglia and then in the LI Herald more recently, Rechler and Wang have purportedly separated financials. It is a shame there has not been any mea culpa by the Isles or Wang on what really is going on.

Wang is now completely at the mercy of Mangano who is trying to tie it to a contentious issue of the casino. The ToH have not answered any request for “secret” or not so secret meetings. Fans know when they are hearing a broken record, and Wangs comments about staying to 2015 were reported by myself and Nick Giglia over a year and a half ago. Isles were never going anywhere before lease was up (remember when some tried to say they’d be packing buses?).

Problem is there is no resolution and fans know it. Hard to cheer for a team that has pulled fans into the battle and then essentially left them in a lurch. Leaves a bad taste and many haven’t bought into the mouthwash that doesn’t quite smell so minty this year.

Lighthouse Project is now a complete drag and many to blame for a complex almost asinine situation but tough now to rally around. There is no doubt that it has effected some of the morale of the fanbase.

4. Ignoring the economics and raising prices…

Think the higher tickets and parking prices have an effect? You bet. Isles now get a cut thanks to the rework of the lease, but as they raised prices, there might be a backfire here by turning off fans who know this team is not exactly worth the going prices.

5. The venue…

The food is not quite what it was two years ago as SMG tried some things. The hallways still choking with people to try to navigate. The facilities are a league wide embarassment that’s not getting better anytime soon. It is as cold there as it is when you mention BD or HockeyIndependent to the Isles media
“braintrust”.

6. The rebuild takes time.

Isles didn’t do a 3 year rebuild. You’d need a farm system and talent pool to do that. Thank Mke Milbury for leaving that a crap pile as he left. Instead it is a 5 year plan to build a talent pool with skill and potential. This initial step is now in place. Now comes the hard work….getting wins to get fans to come back. The team is scrappy, but between injuries and lacking of top flight skill, somewhere along the line, it will run out of air.

7. Not as many are on the DP bandwagon anymore.

He had the better stats in the short preseason, but it seems quite clear already who the better goalie is. Play the hot hand instead of the contract. Fans aren’t blind. The organizational decision to run DP as #1 seems more about business…but about a 15 year mistake. It might not equate into ticket sales as he has not looked anything like a #1.

Hey, with some more scrappy plays and solid wins, this might be a season where fans didn’t quite come out at first, but soon get onboard. You never do know. But here’s a tip to the Isles….if you really want to make the playoffs….Roloson needs to be your #1. You can see the difference. Let DP earn his return, not handed to him due to the owner having made a cardinal sin by signing the guy to a ridiculously long deal. Eat the mistake and let the true #1 be based on play.

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About the Author: B.D. Gallof is a published writer and hockey blogger. He writes about Hockey, NY Islanders & the NY Islanders venue situation for CBS New York. BD has been written up in Sports Illustrated, TSN.ca, the NY Times Slapshots blog, Yahoo's Sports and SportsBusiness Journal. He has been a featured blogger for The Huffington Post, as well as owner, lead writer, and managing editor at HockeyIndependent.com.

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  1. Isles Fanatic says:

    To my eyes, you are right in your assumptions of why people are not showing up to games, and people could probably list a bunch of other reasons. But the bottom line is, that Gary Bettman hit the nail on the head during Monday’s game. The Isles will not play one minute more at Nassau if a deal cannot be reached with TOH, and lack of fan support will be among the reasons why they will leave as well… Fans need to stop with the excuses and just show up… You either want an NHL franchise or you do not. If you do, support the team.

  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by BDGallof, BDGallof and LightningShout, meinck. meinck said: RT @BDGallof: The Day #Isles Fans Stood Still http://hockeyindependent.com/blog/bdgallof/24028 #nhl [...]

  3. sybo says:

    All these points are legit….and let’s not also overlook the preseason injuries to Streit and Okposo as having impact. Many feel/felt the season was lost before it began.
    But hey…these guys are playing pretty well…hopefully they continue to play hard…and the fans return.

  4. Isles27 says:

    I think it’s going to take a lot more than getting 3 out of 4 points against 2 average teams at home to wipe out 17 going on 18 years of futility. There are so many entertainment options in this area so people have a choice of where they can spend that money and many don’t want to OVERPAY for Isles tickets. Also in bad economic times I don’t think that the Isles are a top priority when it comes to where to spend your money. In addition it is terrible PR to RAISE your ticket prices when you have accomplished NOTHING. Your not running the Yankees Charlie you don’t have their past (over the last 15 years) and current success and you certainly don’t have their payroll to justify raising ticket prices. I feel bad for the players who have to play in front of all these empty seats but that’s the owners fault you can’t put this on the fans and tell them to ignore everything negative that goes on with the Isles and just buy the tickets. Personally the only tickets I will buy are discounted ones I will not pay full price for this inferior product, the “rebuilding” excuse doesn’t work well when you haven’t won a playoff series in 17 YEARS. I pretty much agree with everything you stated above Gallof.

  5. RobC/KO21 says:

    After watching Roli, last night, its easy to see who is the better goalie and it really pisses me off that DP is #1…I hope, if Roli continues to give the team a better chance to win than DP, that he gets the starting job….

    You know how sad it is being an Isles fan???I was offered, 2 tix that are $75 face value, includes parking, that I can have for $30 each but I cant find someone to go with…

  6. HyeDray says:

    Nice post BD.

    I agree the two biggest biggest factors are point #4 and #6.

    As I understand it, Charles Wang now pockets parking revenue, concessions and has a piece/say on events coming into the NVMC such as Jeff Dunham. That deal will help the financial losses he has sustained to be sure. But he should have stopped at that point. Regardless of the economic times — and the decisions of fan to be more careful with the way they spend, the New York Islanders are simply put — not a draw. They are not “worth” $75 to sit in the upper 300s. Think about it — if two pals go to a game — $150 for the tickets, $10 to park and by the time you buy a hot dog, pretzel and 2 beers for each of you — your total will be a little over $200.00. Plus — with this team — you are still not quite sure you will get a good game. Now you have to nearly double that for a family of 4. OUCH!

    To me — any ticket above Row H should be $37.50. The price for a seat below row H should be $49.00. The middle tear seats should range from $62.50 – 75.00, while the lower bowl can go from $75.00 to $95.00.

    I was going to put this in my own write up — but B.D. raised the key point — and I support him.

    Look, if I own the team — and a seat is consistently empty at $75.00 I know I am pricing myself out of the ability to have that seat generate funds — making its value $0.00. But if see that I bring that seat price down to $55.00 and I am filling it for 36 of 41 games — guess what — I am now putting value on the seat, and offsetting my costs.

    Basic right? Then why is Charles Wang not getting it? He must be awfully good at his other businesses, because I am getting the feeling he is really bad at this business.

    I’d rather make a little less per seat and fill the building because the volume will generate more income and I help my on-ice product by filling the building with fans. I promote the team and the game as a hot commodity.

    There was a time my buddy and I went to a game together at $15 years old — without begging mom and dad for money to go. I’d be surprised to see that too much today if at all.

    And yes — to point #6. Rebuilding takes time — in particular when you are starting with next to nothing. The only players the Isles began with in 2007-08 when the rebuild began — Kyle Okposo, Frans Neilsen, Blake Comeau and Rick DiPietro. None of the other players we see today were here. No Bailey, Tavares, or Neiderreiter. And, by “here:” I mean within the organization. No Matt Martin. No Brock Nelson. No stud defensive prospects like De Haan and Hamonic. No waiver wire hopefuls in Schremp and now Grabner. No “reaches” like Matt Moulson and P.A. Parenteau.

    This continues to be a 5 year process and we are in year three. This should be the year the franchise turns a corner. The first 3 games indicate a good team beginning to gain some confidence.

    Perhaps the fans will be willing to spend Charles Wang’s dollar request for a ticket if by March 1, the Islanders look like they can make the Spring dance. but until the on-ice product matures, and wins — fans will be soft on spending money on a questionable product (questionable albeit vastly improving and showing excellent potential).

    Nice piece B.D.

  7. Mike from Philly says:

    Good write up B.D. HyeDray hit the nail on the head in his post above. I think ticket prices are 110% the biggest factor right now on why the Isles are barely drawing 11K on weekends and to the home opener. They are simply not worth the price of admission and for Wang and Co. to actually think that these prices are fair and just for the quality of product that we have seen for 15 years….then Wang is even more nuts that I originally thought.

  8. RobC/KO21 says:

    Even tho the tix prices were raised they are still much cheaper than games in Canada such as Toronto and Vancouver, etc

    • Isles27 says:

      You’re comparing 2 totally different markets. You can get away with the high ticket prices in Canada because the market supports it up there the market on LI does not support these high ticket prices, PERIOD. You think the Blue Jays would get away with charging Yankee ticket prices, the market up in Toronto would not support those high prices on baseball tickets but they support and buy the high priced hockey tickets.

      • RobC/KO21 says:

        I agree…Isles tix should be half that of teams that actually win and draw fans in a nice facility….

        • Isles27 says:

          Yes they should be and I think since there is another promotion for tomorrow nights game against the Avs maybe the Isles are starting to get it.

  9. BDGallof says:

    I think so too…and i think a lot of that actually also ties into #1 and even a bit of #3…

    With Dey gone, former LHP folks have folded in. Their internal structure and style is far less open and gregarious. They also not thinking about discounting at ALL. Big business fail, and probably the biggest issue. Whatever happened to the cheap tickets for students, the $25 seats, and more?

    People want a discount. Nothing present…from venue, team, food, parking or anything else should be premium priced until their is a premium quality product.

    PERIOD.

  10. Isles27 says:

    Looks like Wang is taking his anger out on the wrong people….his die hard fans.

  11. Hockey1919 says:

    The Islanders ticket pricing plan is worse than the airlines and just as complicated. Buy early and pay full fare, wait and the price will drop, by the time the prices drop you already have other plans. We saw this last year where season ticket holders were paying more on a per game basis than the walk-up fan that waited to see if they were playing well or not. You feel pretty stupid paying twice as much as the guy sitting next to you. What a reward for being loyal.

  12. Bob E says:

    I agree on ticket prices. Fact is if isles keep up what they doing so far. with wins come fans. Look no further than Mets. (im a yanks fan). When mets are winning, fans show up.

    I feel bad for Wang and what he has to put up with ToH. you got civil workers with inflated powertrips, not taken anything else into consideration before its too late.

    Good thing Wang really wants to keep them here. B/c for all the complaining fans that dont show up to games and ToH. Anyone else would have been long gone.

  13. Isles27 says:

    Yeah poor Wang he seems so easy to get along with and work with and he’s a great decision maker and I’m sure he lives paycheck to paycheck like a lot of his fans do. Poor Wang.

  14. jpwjr1199 says:

    - I agree with about every comment here except for the first one. Investing one’s hard earned money on a crappy product is stupid in good economic times, and doubly stupid, when things are not so great. It is that simple. When the Islanders put a product that is commensurate with the face prices they charge and the competitive market in which they exist (by the way, a LOT of other clubs could only dream about playing within a 50 mile radius of the biggest media market in the US and having the resources, such as cable monies and potential Madison Ave. marketability/exposure that brings with it), then and only then will fans consistently attend games. PERIOD.

    - This issue of attendance is no more complex than the nose on your face.

    - You do not charge five star prices and serve lousy food, and then tell the customers that if they keep coming, eventually the food will be excellent. Empty, vacuous, baseless promises of restoring the Isles’ luster of yesteryear have been forced upon hockey fans of the LI area since those very days of yesteryear.

    - Most fans are not stupid and people from Long Island that still would and could dole out the $$ for season tix. are not going to until the Islanders PROVE they can win. Even local businesses know that there are other entertainment options, as many here have said.

    - Even the ardent supporter using any analytical skill can see that, as good as Snow has been, he is inconsistent in this “rebuild”. Why did he decide not to retain Sean Bergenheim for 700,000 US? He could have also re-signed Freddy Meyer for well under a million US. Those are two capable players the Islanders have spent time, energy, and some money developing, yet they are gone. That doesn’t sound consistent with a rebuild.

    It sounds like a GM with very tight purse strings held from very close above by a bullying boss.

    - If one is to take a more scrutinous look at the Islanders situation, one has to also question the motivation of Snow to sign Zenon Konopka as an UFA. The Isles already have Trevor Gillies on the roster. Is Konopka really supposed to provide depth at Center? Let’s get real. Additionally, as many before have said, if the Islanders are in a “rebuild” as they purport, then why is Jon Sim on this roster instead of Jesse Joensuu? Is Jon Sim really going to ever be a valuable piece for this team?
    No.

    - Finally, lest us not forget that Snow was the one that facilitated Wang’s outrageous, ridiculously stupid contract agreement with DiPietro – a deal that has hamstrung (pardon the unintentional double entendre) the Isles’ goaltending situation for a long time.

    - Don’t get me wrong. I do like Garth Snow as GM, but as a skeptical onlooker of the Islanders, I HAVE YET TO TRUST THEIR PROCESS as an organization, and will continue to distrust until I am proven wrong.

    - It’s been 22 years since the Islanders have had ANY banner hang from the rafters. If there was a statute of limitations on them, the ceiling at the Coliseum would be bare.

    - Show me an Islander club that has a real shot and you can put me in for at least one seat.