January 15, 2007, - 5:03 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
The NHL product (the game, the “competition,” the non-stars) has gotten so boring, substandard, and expensive, the St. Louis Blues started a new trend to fill the stands a little more.
Team owner Dave Checketts fed the audience dinner. Saturday’s Blues crowd more than doubled the average and nearly filled the Scottrade Center, as spectators got to choose between hot dog or chicken fingers entree; popcorn, peanuts, or potato chips snack; and a soft drink–all at no extra charge to ticket-holders.
And the food gimmick worked. Attendance reached 17,868 for the free-food-fest, while only 9 times, this season has the Blues reported a crowd of at least 10,000. They drew as few as 5,410 fans in their 23 previous home games. The arena has a capacity of 19,022.
And the Blues won the game, too, scoring 6 hot dogs to the L.A. King’s 5 chicken wings. . . er, goals.
With the rocketing NHL prices making the game out of reach to its blue collar and middle class fans, you may see more of this in the future in all but a few markets (like the constantly sold out Detroit Red Wings games). And it’s a good economic trend for consumers and families, if not for gazillionaire owners and players whose respective ticket prices and salaries are still too high.
Welcome back to reality, National Hockey League.
Tags: Dave Checketts, Debbie Schlussel, Detroit Red Wings, food, food gimmick, National Hockey League, NHL, Scottrade Center, St. Louis Blues, Team owner