- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Meanwhile, Minnesota is beginning to act more professionally off the ice. Green has eliminated all freebie tickets, and ushers at the Met Center no longer look the other way when fans move down from the cheap seats. The only discounts Green has offered so far are family plans. "We want to promote the idea that if you want the best seats you have to buy season tickets," he says. "The ultimate marketing tool is scarcity. The best thing we had going for us in Calgary is that it was hard to get into the Saddledome."
It couldn't be easier getting into the Met Center these days. Nor is it tough to tell the owner what you think. Green shakes every hand he can reach as he walks the corridors between periods. The customers thank him for saving the team, for eliminating smoking in the corridors and for recently re-signing Bellows. They also confront him about the ticket prices.
"Norm, wouldn't you rather have cheaper tickets and fill the place?" asks one man.
Green smiles and says, "I'd rather fill it up with higher-priced tickets."
Green, who has already put $2 million in improvements into the 25-year-old Met Center, plans to add more seats. The North Stars' generous lease makes it astounding that the Gunds could lose as much money as they claim they did last season. Minnesota pays only $200,000 a year to rent the Met Center, collects favorable shares of the parking and concession revenues and has control of the building to promote other events. Not so favorable is the deal that pillages the farm system, but Green is trying to renegotiate with the Gunds and seems confident that at least some prospects can be saved.
"We're asking the people to be patient and we're going to earn their support," says Green. "We'll get them back. This is hockey in Minnesota. It's not Tampa."
His theory is based on the obvious. You have to give a person in Minnesota a reason not to come to a hockey game. For too long the North Stars have been providing just that.