One of my biggest complaints with the Providence Bruins over the last two seasons have been their almost impossibly bad fan experience.
My chief complaint has been that the team seems to do the barest minimum for the fans that do show up, and don’t seem to be too concerned with bringing new fans into the building.
Opening weekend, RICC Weekend, Star Wars and First Responder nights seem to be the only home games that fill the building. By mid season, we’re “hunting deer in the upper deck”.
Some of the very simple issues I have seen over the last two seasons include: – Giveaways only being available at one of two entrances – Lack of mascot visability – No added value to the ticket * Lack of giveaways * Nothing to keep kids occupied or a reason for a parent to buy 2-4 tickets and bring the family – Then the papercut complaint, the ultimate “old guy yells at clouds”: * They do this “you choose the song” sponsored by iHeartMedia. They play clips of 3 songs and fans cheer for their favorite…then they only play 30-40 seconds of the song that wins.
Friday night was the third home weekend for the Bruins. And while I did unload these complaints onto a PBruins sales rep during a 30 minute “I already have season tickets, please stop trying to sell me more season tickets” call, I am not going to take credit for the changes that I saw on Friday night.
I will say that the team has now twice had giveaways at both entrances. I saw the team’s mascot in the main lobby once, and the iHeartMedia spot now includes the whole song as chosen by the fans.
This tells me two very important things. 1. The team does listen to the fans, because these are basically word for word suggestions I made and they happened the week I made the suggestion. 2. The team does actually want to sell more tickets, they just seem to struggle in the how.
If we see the mascot more, this means that there have been three small but very fast changes to how the Bruins handle their game day experience. Considering how produced sound queues are, seeing that change shows that the team can be very nimble and adjust on the move.
I’m crossing my fingers in hopes that this signals a shift in the team’s fan facing personality.
Personally, I would like to see the team bring in a game day host. Someone to interact with fans and put fans up on the big screen for games and trivia contests, as other teams have done. I would also, for the sake of growing a young fanbase (which is essential for the sport, but also for minor league teams), like to see more character appearances. Star Wars night at the Dunk is a gong show. Wall to wall fans, all buying tickets, drinking sodas and picking through merch at the team store.
Hopefully as the season spins on, we see more things for fans to engage in around the stadium during games. Hopefully we hear about more giveaways or specialty nights at the building. Hopefully we start to see average attendance grow.
All that said, after a great experience at the Meet the Team night a little while ago, I am very excited to see the team bringing Andrew Raycroft to the barn for an autograph signing. Raycroft will be singing for an hour and a half before the Friday night 12/6 game against Bringhamton Devils, which is also part of First Responders Weekend. I’m expecting higher than normal attendance. Plus, traffic on Friday night coming into Providence is pretty gross.
Hopefully, I’ll be able to shoot into the building early enough to get into the sign line for Raycroft. But, I’m a Ron Hextall guy at heart, so I’m not going to change my whole day to get there.