If a person were to ask someone to describe Chicago’s sports fans in one word, there are several adjectives that would come to mind immediately.
One of them, of course, would be “BEARS”, after the legendary Saturday Night Live skit. Another would be “crazy”, because it does take delusions of grandeur to be a fan of a team like the Chicago Cubs.
Ultimately, one word that would be universally accepted is “loyal”, and that adjective applies not only to fans who watch games here in the Windy City, but also those that turn out in other stadiums and arenas to see their favorite teams play.
The Chicago Blackhawks are no exception to that rule. Whether they are in Los Angeles against the Kings, Phoenix against the Coyotes, or even places like Dallas against the Florida Panthers, there are usually a ton of Hawks fans in attendance.
Part of that can obviously be chalked up to their successes in recent years, but the fact is that Chicago fans always travel well and are very vocal in the various places that they go to cheer for their teams.
One of the biggest beneficiaries of that willingness to travel has been the city of Nashville. In a game against the Tennessee Titans last season, Bears fans drank several bars dry, as reported by NBC Chicago’s Peggy Kusinski. The Blackhawks have also been responsible for several raucous crowds at Bridgestone Arena as well, with throngs of Hawks fans clad in red cheering on the team to the dismay of the gold-clad Predators faithful.
To counter this growing trend, the Predators are trying a different tactic. From Predators blog Section 303:
“This season, for the first time, you will not be allowed to buy single game tickets for the November 16, December 17, and April 12 home dates against the Blackhawks. In order to get tickets to those games, you’ll be required to purchase a second game as well.
“For Blackhawks games, we want to make sure that we preserve this building as much as we can for those who live in Smashville,” (Predators COO Sean) Henry said.”
The tactic is far from a new one in sports. Several teams have already instituted policies that only fans with certain zip codes can buy tickets to games (the Coyotes did so against the Kings in the 2012 Western Conference Finals). Others, like the Cubs and White Sox, dangle tickets to big rivalry games as part of packages involving several other games.
While plenty of folks have been quick to criticize the decision, saying that it seems stupid for Nashville to turn away travelling fans who pump money into the local economy, it actually is a savvy move for a team that is trying to boost itself back up after a bad season in 2013. With excitement growing around the team’s first round draft pick Seth Jones, as well as the built in fanbase of players like Shea Weber and Pekka Rinne, the Predators are trying to drive more interest in the team, and capitalizing on the rivalry with the Blackhawks to boost ticket sales seems like a smart idea.
What do you think of Nashville’s plan Hawks fans? Will you still buy tickets to see Viktor Stalberg and company next year, or does this “buy two” philosophy mean you won’t be making the trip to Tennessee?