2003 - 2004
February 24, 2004
Attendance drives hockey promotion
Officials hope to increase attendance for the final stretch of the Greensboro Generals' season.
BY MATT WILLIAMS
Coliseum Managing Director Matt Brown announces promotions aimed at boosting attendance at Greensboro Generals games for the rest of the season. "We need to score both on and off the ice for the next four games," he said Monday at a news conference.
GREENSBORO - Greensboro Generals officials launched an effort Monday to increase ticket sales and recruit investors as the minor-league hockey team finishes its first season under the management of the city-owned Greensboro Coliseum.
Looking to build on the team's winning record on the ice, coliseum Managing Director Matt Brown announced several promotions aimed at boosting attendance at four home games during the next week.
The ECHL's championship trophy, the Kelly Cup, will be on display through Friday, and fans can register to win a 2000 Chevrolet Cavalier donated by a used-car dealership. Brown said the game scheduled for Saturday against Charlotte had already been sold out.
The first half of the Generals' season has seen the lowest ticket revenue in the franchise's five-year history, but team officials say they are pleased with fan reaction and attendance at games. At the end of December, the Generals posted a nearly $300,000 deficit. Ticket revenue was down from previous seasons, but Brown was able to lower the team's costs by trading advertising at games with businesses for free services.
The 10 home games played since then show mixed results. One Saturday game generated the highest ticket sales this year, but four other weekday games had the worst sales so far this season. The effort to promote the team's two remaining weekend games aims to make up for the six week-night games that round out the regular season.
"With two Tuesdays and a Wednesday, we need to score both on and off the ice for the next four games," Brown said.
The franchise's original owners, led by Greensboro attorney Art Donaldson, decided last spring that they could not afford to operate the team after losing money during each of the team's first four seasons. Not wanting to lose one of the coliseum's primary tenants, Brown orchestrated an agreement in which Donaldson leased the team to a group of local investors called the Generals Brigade.
That group, led by local businessmen Bill Black and Don Brady, ceded responsibility for running the team this season to the city-owned coliseum while it raised money to buy the team outright. Under the agreement, the city is responsible for paying all of the team's expenses and will collect all revenues. The Generals Brigade pledged to contribute $200,000 this season to cover team expenses.
Black said his group is still recruiting investors to make its payment to the coliseum for operating the team. In addition, Black urged Generals fans to consider contributing $1,000 each to help buy the team out of its financial difficulties. Black said about 100 investors have contacted him about the planned offering.
Team officials declined to comment on next year's season and whether the city would again operate the team. Black said he preferred the current structure, where Brown, a city employee, ran the team and the private owners made a contribution to the team's finances.
"I like it the way it is, frankly," Black said. "I think there's a public-private answer."
City Manager Ed Kitchen, who attended the event, said no decision had been made about operating the team next season. However, he did rule out a permanent role for the city and the franchise.
"I don't want it long-term," Kitchen said.
Brown is scheduled to brief the City Council this morning on the Generals' finances. Kitchen said a final decision on the team's future would be made in the spring after looking at Black's fund-raising efforts and the team's financial performance.
Contact Matt Williams at 373-7004 or firstname.lastname@example.org