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SargentD

O'Neil and Hugh Weber want to reinvent the Devils as a business

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I cringe a little when I read these people saying theyre still trying to figure out who the Devils fans are. You didnt study that before spending a large amount of money? And, I worry theyre going to do their brand studies and get it all wrong....

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I cringe a little when I read these people saying theyre still trying to figure out who the Devils fans are. You didnt study that before spending a large amount of money? And, I worry theyre going to do their brand studies and get it all wrong....

 

We ourselves don't even "know who we are." Half the people in the building see us as rabid rough-and-tumble Philly-style fans. The other half loves the local homegrown family nature of being a Devils fan. 

 

Our new owners are absolutely doing the right thing by re-evaluating "who we are" as a fanbase, from a marketing standpoint. Whatever we've been doing for 10-20 years hasn't been working.

Edited by DJ Eco
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I only skimmed the article, so it might have addressed this, but if this plan has any chance of success it has to focus on NJ based businesses.  The big companies across the river are going to take their clients to the Garden or even Barclays every time.  That means none of the big investment banks, law firms, etc, that tend to spend a lot of money on pricey seats to sporting events. 

 

I respectfully disagree.  It's an easy trip from the city - easier than from most of NJ.  In my real-life experience, the on-ice product is preferred by Euro clients.  UK I have to confess seem to be sold on the Rangers for some reason lately.  Chimaira has to get to work on them!!

 

Seriously though -- the big banks DO have corporate seats.  USB had their own box at CAA - I sat there.  All the PR firms had seats - sat there too (I'd name names but most have been acquired and have new names).  Maybe things aren't the same in Newark now -- I have no idea why that would be since it's far more accessible. and yes -- they had seats at the Garden as well.

 

Why would you ever take the train from Somerville rather than New Brunswick other than you can walk to the station - or you enjoy being obstinate.  White House, Lambertville,  OK.  But even then, NOTHING is accessible in NJ  -- sh!t you all drive miles over the course of a week just to hit up your favorite tap rooms. If it's easy to get to Triumph New Hope and Long Valley, then it's easy to get to Newark.

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Our new owners are absolutely doing the right thing by re-evaluating "who we are" as a fanbase, from a marketing standpoint. Whatever we've been doing for 10-20 years hasn't been working.

 

I think what they've (not us btw - thankfully)  been doing is freaking out about money without any real vision or plan - at least nothing they were able to stick to.

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I respectfully disagree.  It's an easy trip from the city - easier than from most of NJ.  In my real-life experience, the on-ice product is preferred by Euro clients.  UK I have to confess seem to be sold on the Rangers for some reason lately.  Chimaira has to get to work on them!!

 

Seriously though -- the big banks DO have corporate seats.  USB had their own box at CAA - I sat there.  All the PR firms had seats - sat there too (I'd name names but most have been acquired and have new names).  Maybe things aren't the same in Newark now -- I have no idea why that would be since it's far more accessible. and yes -- they had seats at the Garden as well.

 

Why would you ever take the train from Somerville rather than New Brunswick other than you can walk to the station - or you enjoy being obstinate.  White House, Lambertville,  OK.  But even then, NOTHING is accessible in NJ  -- sh!t you all drive miles over the course of a week just to hit up your favorite tap rooms. If it's easy to get to Triumph New Hope and Long Valley, then it's easy to get to Newark.

 

I know I will regret responding to this but what in God's name are you saying here?  You basically both agreed and disagreed with my reply to Daniel about how it is not easy to get to Hoboken and at the same time try to put in a little sarcastic jab at me.

 

Plus really who cares about where I take the train from and how I want to get to Newark?  Somerville is my closest station to where I live.  Why should I go to New Brunswick and worry about getting hit with flying body parts?

 

I know I am not going to get a rational response out of you to this post and I know I will regret this post the second I hit the "post" button but damn.

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I think what they've (not us btw - thankfully)  been doing is freaking out about money without any real vision or plan - at least nothing they were able to stick to.

 

I'm not sure what you mean. I think we'd have to wait at least a year (probably 3 or 4) to accurately judge and evaluate what plans of theirs they've enacted that stuck or didn't stick, and their success.

 

The month of July/UFA season will be one big checkpoint of theirs, as well as September/October, but even then we can't give them an accurate A+ or an F either way. With a franchise hemorrhaging money like ours, their success will be all about a long-term plan and vision.

 

In the article, they said they're still spending money and time cleaning up Vanderbeek's mess and legal troubles. Not sure how you or any Devils fans can criticize at this point..

Edited by DJ Eco

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For example, some of their ideas throughout the year:

  • Honoring season ticket holders and their tenure these past few weeks with meetings, personalized jerseys, being recognized on-screen, and "class pictures".
  • Outdoor "beer garden" area throughout September and October, it was $3 draft Heinekens for season ticket holders; I'm sure they would've continued it if we made the playoffs.
  • New pre-intro video before every game, showing our 1980s and 1990s teams and current veterans. We're a team with a short but important history and no video at The Rock has ever honored that (until maybe a month or two ago, I don't think that video was going on all season)... You can tell our owners came in with a chip on their shoulder and want to market the Devils as THE best team in the local metropolitan area, which it is.
  • Party Poker sponsorship was obviously a big deal, no matter how much we want to make fun of it. The money we get from a deal like Party Poker pays for a couple years of a Stastny contract or some other elite scorer, simple as that; that's how you can view it as. It's more than Vanderbeek was doing. We didn't see any lucrative deals being made during his tenure, only broken corporate relationships and a ton of bad press.
  • If you follow Hugh Weber on Twitter, you'll see he does a lot of Q&As. One of such Q&As, he answered a fan about beer and food options, essentially saying he was actively getting local New Jersey breweries to be tapped at The Rock next season, as well as new food options that were already secured to start next season.

These are just the small details. We don't know the big moves being made behind the scenes, but I like their energy and feel we're genuinely in good hands with Hugh Weber, especially.

Edited by DJ Eco

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Agree 100%. On paper, Newark really does make the most sense and always has, when taking into account the infrastructure. Madison Square Garden might be the only other arena in the country that's better/more connected than The Rock, when you think about it..

 

TD Garden in Boston. Like the old Boston Garden, it's built over North Station.

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TD Garden in Boston. Like the old Boston Garden, it's built over North Station.

 

I was thinking that same thing.  However, I really can't think of a more convenient place in NJ than Newark to have an arena as it provides relatively easy access by way of car and mass transit.  

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TD Garden in Boston. Like the old Boston Garden, it's built over North Station.

 

This is true! Forgot about Boston Garden. Although, we still have an airport nearby! :P

 

But yeah, point is, the average arena around the country isn't hooked up for ease of travel the way places like MSG, The Rock, and Boston Garden: trains, highways, subways, busses. 

 

 

EDIT: Like Chuck the Duck said, not really sure it'd make sense anywhere else in Jersey with the kind of connectivity Newark allows. We all like to complain here, but most arenas are just NOT that easy to get to or offering more than 1 or 2 options. We're very lucky, and it was very well thought out for the long run. Newark will revitalize, it's already begun. Brooklyn, Queens, even Jersey City are pricing middle class people out. And they will be (AND ALREADY ARE) moving further and further west to places like Harrison, Newark or Montclair, depending on what you want. People in their 20s and early 30s who want to keep that city lifestyle simply don't have the opportunity to. Newark will look a lot like Brooklyn in 10 years, I'd put (and will be putting) money on it via smart real estate investment. In 3-4 years, the artsy creative neighborhood will set up shop around The Rock, and within the blink of an eye, those brownstones and brick buildings will have $500,000+ apartments in no time. It's happening in areas of the 5 boroughs further away from midtown than Newark even is, and will happen in Newark too.

Edited by DJ Eco

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We ourselves don't even "know who we are." Half the people in the building see us as rabid rough-and-tumble Philly-style fans. The other half loves the local homegrown family nature of being a Devils fan. 

 

Our new owners are absolutely doing the right thing by re-evaluating "who we are" as a fanbase, from a marketing standpoint. Whatever we've been doing for 10-20 years hasn't been working.

 

That's a fairly accurate and funny description of the divide in Devils fans!

 

 

For example, some of their ideas throughout the year:

  • Honoring season ticket holders and their tenure these past few weeks with meetings, personalized jerseys, being recognized on-screen, and "class pictures".
  • Outdoor "beer garden" area throughout September and October, it was $3 draft Heinekens for season ticket holders; I'm sure they would've continued it if we made the playoffs.
  • New pre-intro video before every game, showing our 1980s and 1990s teams and current veterans. We're a team with a short but important history and no video at The Rock has ever honored that (until maybe a month or two ago, I don't think that video was going on all season)... You can tell our owners came in with a chip on their shoulder and want to market the Devils as THE best team in the local metropolitan area, which it is.
  • Party Poker sponsorship was obviously a big deal, no matter how much we want to make fun of it. The money we get from a deal like Party Poker pays for a couple years of a Stastny contract or some other elite scorer, simple as that; that's how you can view it as. It's more than Vanderbeek was doing. We didn't see any lucrative deals being made during his tenure, only broken corporate relationships and a ton of bad press.
  • If you follow Hugh Weber on Twitter, you'll see he does a lot of Q&As. One of such Q&As, he answered a fan about beer and food options, essentially saying he was actively getting local New Jersey breweries to be tapped at The Rock next season, as well as new food options that were already secured to start next season.

These are just the small details. We don't know the big moves being made behind the scenes, but I like their energy and feel we're genuinely in good hands with Hugh Weber, especially.

 

When the Rock first opened, there were some decent food options and at least a more expanded beer option than at the CAA, so I give Vanderbeek credit for that before he became pressed for money. But it is good to hear that Weber has plans to once again improve that stuff.

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I just want a third jersey :P

Holy sh!t! It's scottie!

 

I think the ice girls are a much better idea than the current cheerleaders. Discount nachos night is what will really fill the seats. 

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I just want the awesome pretzels they had earlier in the season back. Cinnamon pretzel was my go to snack for a bit and then one game all the stands were just gone. It was so random.

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Not sure if anyone read the comments below the article, but this type of remark iritates the hell out of me:

 

" As a parent, it's a great experience for kids to come and cheer on their heros, the electric atmosphere, getting a hot dog, popcorn, or cotton candy, a program, and maybe a puck or hat. Add that up and for a day and son, that "experience" will cost over $200 for the total package (Tix, Parking, food, etc.). How many people can afford to do that 10-15 times a year?"

 

I am 38.  When I was a kid, my dad took me to WWF a few times a year, until I lost interest when I was 11.  Took me to an occasional game.  My parents are into sports now, but until I was in HS, they really had no interest.  When we did go, my father always made a point to tell me we were not buying all kinds of stuff (food, souvenirs, etc) and if I bothered him for it, it would be the last time he would take me.  That was all I needed to not ask.  Why can't parents simply say, "no?"   All the hats, shirts, jerseys, etc they sell, you can get cheaper in stores.  Does a kid need a new puck or hat for every game he attends?  

 

As far as the article itself, for the lower bowl, you have to drop the prices.  Rangers will be experiencing the same in the coming years.  The value is much better in the upper bowl.  Rangers STH in the upper bowl are making money hand over fist on tickets they are selling.  Lower bowl people are getting killed and on most nights are taking a loss.  When the plans to move to Newark were announced, I thought it was going to be great for the Devils.  Figured the Devils fan living in Jersey who worked in Manhattan, could now take the train to the game from work, and then train home to whatever town.  Something that for the most part was not practical at the Meadowlands.  I am not sure if building up the surrounding area will make much of a difference.  They want to build their season ticket base, but worrying about the "experience" is not going to help much.  The "experience" is going to be an issue for the person who goes to a game or two every few years.  I just can't see people buying season tickets because the arena has a great selection of food.  What does any business do when a product is not selling? Drops the prices.  See: sales at retail stores or when a car dealership wants to clear out the 2014 models beginning Labor Day weekend.  Don't offer discounted parking, offer FREE parking to Season ticket holders.  Yes, FREE.  I know they do not own the lots around the arena, but they can easily work a deal with the local companies.  Even work out a deal to offer train coupons.  These things add value to being a season ticket holder.  Devils are in the same boat as the Mets.  My wife and I thought about getting a Mets plan this season.  But we scrapped it because it wasn't saving us any money off the individual prices.  And, there is no need to have Mets tickets in advance.  Very rarely can I not get tickets a few hours before if I decide to go.  Why commit myself to 10 dates?  Things like Fan fests, player q & a's, forums with management, account reps are nice, but that is not really going to mean much to most people.  

 

As for individual tickets, again, PRICE PRICE PRICE.  The whole "tiered" pricing is ridiculous.  To me, that sends the message that seeing the opponent is more important than seeing the home team. I get the concept about popular match-ups and even trying to gouge the Rangers and Flyers fans, but the Devils price structure is ridiculous.  Looking at it right now on their site.  $410 (I know it is a limited amount at this price) is ridiculous for a regular season game.  

 

Unfortunately, the last thing these guys want to hear is that they need to lower prices.  They would rather offer you a 25-lb bag of $h!t for the same price as the 20-lb bag when people only want a 5-lb bag. 

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Most of the complaints in the comments are from soccer moms upset that prices are high in the arena.  Well no sh!t.  I mean have they been to any of the other arena/stadiums in the area?  The Rock is about average in prices compared to the other arenas in the area.

 

The Devils could do a better job with the quality of food, and Hugh has said many times they will be better for next season as well as the beer options.  Sounds hopeful and we will see.

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Not sure if anyone read the comments below the article, but this type of remark iritates the hell out of me:

 

" As a parent, it's a great experience for kids to come and cheer on their heros, the electric atmosphere, getting a hot dog, popcorn, or cotton candy, a program, and maybe a puck or hat. Add that up and for a day and son, that "experience" will cost over $200 for the total package (Tix, Parking, food, etc.). How many people can afford to do that 10-15 times a year?"

 

I am 38.  When I was a kid, my dad took me to WWF a few times a year, until I lost interest when I was 11.  Took me to an occasional game.  My parents are into sports now, but until I was in HS, they really had no interest.  When we did go, my father always made a point to tell me we were not buying all kinds of stuff (food, souvenirs, etc) and if I bothered him for it, it would be the last time he would take me.  That was all I needed to not ask.  Why can't parents simply say, "no?"   All the hats, shirts, jerseys, etc they sell, you can get cheaper in stores.  Does a kid need a new puck or hat for every game he attends?  

 

As far as the article itself, for the lower bowl, you have to drop the prices.  Rangers will be experiencing the same in the coming years.  The value is much better in the upper bowl.  Rangers STH in the upper bowl are making money hand over fist on tickets they are selling.  Lower bowl people are getting killed and on most nights are taking a loss.  When the plans to move to Newark were announced, I thought it was going to be great for the Devils.  Figured the Devils fan living in Jersey who worked in Manhattan, could now take the train to the game from work, and then train home to whatever town.  Something that for the most part was not practical at the Meadowlands.  I am not sure if building up the surrounding area will make much of a difference.  They want to build their season ticket base, but worrying about the "experience" is not going to help much.  The "experience" is going to be an issue for the person who goes to a game or two every few years.  I just can't see people buying season tickets because the arena has a great selection of food.  What does any business do when a product is not selling? Drops the prices.  See: sales at retail stores or when a car dealership wants to clear out the 2014 models beginning Labor Day weekend.  Don't offer discounted parking, offer FREE parking to Season ticket holders.  Yes, FREE.  I know they do not own the lots around the arena, but they can easily work a deal with the local companies.  Even work out a deal to offer train coupons.  These things add value to being a season ticket holder.  Devils are in the same boat as the Mets.  My wife and I thought about getting a Mets plan this season.  But we scrapped it because it wasn't saving us any money off the individual prices.  And, there is no need to have Mets tickets in advance.  Very rarely can I not get tickets a few hours before if I decide to go.  Why commit myself to 10 dates?  Things like Fan fests, player q & a's, forums with management, account reps are nice, but that is not really going to mean much to most people.  

 

As for individual tickets, again, PRICE PRICE PRICE.  The whole "tiered" pricing is ridiculous.  To me, that sends the message that seeing the opponent is more important than seeing the home team. I get the concept about popular match-ups and even trying to gouge the Rangers and Flyers fans, but the Devils price structure is ridiculous.  Looking at it right now on their site.  $410 (I know it is a limited amount at this price) is ridiculous for a regular season game.  

 

Unfortunately, the last thing these guys want to hear is that they need to lower prices.  They would rather offer you a 25-lb bag of $h!t for the same price as the 20-lb bag when people only want a 5-lb bag. 

 

You make a lot of sense and I agree with you on a lot of what you said. Especially the mom complaining about the prices to bring a kid to a game, that's absurd. My parents brought me to a good amount of Devils games and a hell of a lot more MetroStars games (when they were at Giants Stadium). We packed our own food and even snuck in snacks and whole sandwiches and we wouldn't have had it any other way. Getting $15 tickets (per person) to see the MetroStars on a beautiful spring day while enjoying virtually free salami and mozzarella heroes with your family, mannnnnnn, that was the life. So many good memories, and it cost about the same as going to the movies; not to mention I learned then how to be a good fan, even while the MetroStars were the worst team in the league....

 

Although I do think there's a middle ground between them overvaluing the "game-day experience" and you saying it doesn't mean that much. Bringing up the Mets is actually the perfect example. I'm a Mets fan but damn, who wants to consistently go out and see Mets baseball, outside of a few diehards? Everyone I know, even fans of other teams around the country, have a good time at CitiField though and keep going back a few times each year, some even once a month. It's a great ballpark with great food and drink choices and it keeps the "casuals" coming back. As a team that's not selling out games, we could definitely use some of that draw. Not to mention, that aspect of our team HAS definitely improved, and the restaurants and bars around the arena definitely helped a lot in that regard.

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It's all about the $$$.  Weber and O'Neill could care less about how we care just as long as it doesn't affect the bottom line.

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It's all about the $$$.  Weber and O'Neill could care less about how we care just as long as it doesn't affect the bottom line.

 

Let me guess: 99% of this opinion of yours is based on the fact they changed the goal song, right?

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It's all about the $$$.  Weber and O'Neill could care less about how we care just as long as it doesn't affect the bottom line.

 

Well, that goes for any business (which is what this is) including, for example, some medication that might save your life. They don't "care" about saving your life, they care about you needing and buying their medication. Not really up for debate.

 

What is up for debate is if whether or not you think building a powerhouse team is part of their plans to further their business. I would think it is. I think they've realized in a quick year that all their other initiatives are moot if the on-ice product isn't winning games. How we approach free agency season, and whether or not Lou Lamoriello is still our GM in a year, will be good indications of that.

Edited by DJ Eco

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I'm not sure what you mean. I think we'd have to wait at least a year (probably 3 or 4) to accurately judge and evaluate what plans of theirs they've enacted that stuck or didn't stick, and their success.

 

The month of July/UFA season will be one big checkpoint of theirs, as well as September/October, but even then we can't give them an accurate A+ or an F either way. With a franchise hemorrhaging money like ours, their success will be all about a long-term plan and vision.

 

In the article, they said they're still spending money and time cleaning up Vanderbeek's mess and legal troubles. Not sure how you or any Devils fans can criticize at this point..

Not the new owners.  I was talking about VBk.  I meant he had no plan -- thus there was no plan the last 10 years

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Not the new owners.  I was talking about VBk.  I meant he had no plan -- thus there was no plan the last 10 years

 

Oh yeah! I agree 100% haha... Whoops.

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Let me guess: 99% of this opinion of yours is based on the fact they changed the goal song, right?

 

IMO, Mitico is right.  For corporations it ultimately comes down to the bottom line and how they can maximize profits.  The decision regarding the goal song had elements of that as well.  They likely felt that they were losing fans coming to games b/c of the goal song and the atmosphere it was creating based upon some of the complaints being received, so they got rid of it knowing full well that they would take significant backlash in the beginning and it would fade away over time (like it has).  These guys aren't stupid...they knew that they wouldn't lose any customers because of the change, but they might gain some because of it.  To them it was worth the uproar for a few weeks to make a few more dollars.  

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Not the new owners.  I was talking about VBk.  I meant he had no plan -- thus there was no plan the last 10 years

 

I think Jeff had a plan, but it didn't take the economic disaster of the last 6 years into account. Figure that the Rock opened in 2007 and a year later the economy enters the biggest free-fall since the Great Depression wiping out the stock portfolios of some of the most traditionally sound and stable companies on Wall Street including the very one that Jeff made his fortune at. Whether he was on the inside or not, he wasn't counting on that occurring or he would have insulated himself far better and made far different hedges around his bets. I think that led to a situation that he wasn't really prepared for and threw all his plans off-kilter.

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IMO, Mitico is right.  For corporations it ultimately comes down to the bottom line and how they can maximize profits.  The decision regarding the goal song had elements of that as well.  They likely felt that they were losing fans coming to games b/c of the goal song and the atmosphere it was creating based upon some of the complaints being received, so they got rid of it knowing full well that they would take significant backlash in the beginning and it would fade away over time (like it has).  These guys aren't stupid...they knew that they wouldn't lose any customers because of the change, but they might gain some because of it.  To them it was worth the uproar for a few weeks to make a few more dollars.  

 

Well of course they are looking to maximize profits, why else would they be in business?

 

Mitico put out a very basic negative statement concerning our new owners stating they don't care about the fans as long as they make money.  IDK about you but I have seen them throughout the season taking some great feedback and actually following up on it.  They have already promised better food options, more STH perks, and have listed to people giving them suggestions on twitter to improve the experience.  Many of the people bashing them are the ones who are still all butt-hurt over them changing the goal song and seem to think a college game atmosphere is the best game day experience you can have.

 

If JVB would have taken running the team a little more seriously like the new owners instead of giving away or heavily discount tickets, sour relations with both vendors and business clients, and basically hire Devils fans to work for free doing their PR work (aka Generals), maybe JVB would still be running the team today.

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