There is a common perception that Ted and Monumental Sports are being cheap with the Wizards and his other teams, just to save money in and of itself. We've gone through a number of possible moves with players, Ted's perceived position on CBA negotiations in the NBA or NHL or lack thereof to see why. As sports team fans, we just take a look at the product on the floor and judge everything based on that. In an ideal world, that's how it should be. But Monumental Sports like any other business has to try to gain revenues and therefore help the bottom line. Here are some business decisions Ted has made to increase revenues or at least improve fan experience from a traditional business-side customer service standpoint.:
1. Increase all-inclusive ticket offerings for Wizards and Capitals fans
In 2010, Ted wrote on the blog that he would significantly increase VIP season ticket holder benefits for Wizards fans, most notably in the form of all inclusive food and drink, including beer and wine. In addition all STH's here now have a complimentary parking pass for every game this season. It used to be only given to those who had four seats on their account when Mr. Pollin ran the show..
The number of seats in the owner level section also increase from eight total to 16 for the 2010-2011 NBA season, and an additional row of seats was added behind the eight dream seats in 2011-2012. This season, there are eight seats at the scorer's table which adds more revenues. If you are wondering why Steve and Phil and Dave and Glenn are now in the 100 and 200 levels respectively, this is partly why in addition to the fact that this table is smaller than the one it replaced.The Caps also offer similar benefits to their VIP season ticket holders who sit in Rows A and B in the 100's. They will have access to the Rinkside Club which is really the Courtside Club for hockey games. If you haven't seen the Courtside Club, here's a picture below:
(My personal photo)
As you all probably know, the Acela Club also added seating at the ledge which includes the restaurant's buffet, 117 more seats in all, and I believe it was criticized by some because it took away from a possible better angle to see game action, probably moreso for hockey because in basketball, the Acela view is behind one of the baskets, and there really isn't a bad view for a hockey game.
To be fair, adding more premium seating, especially for Wizards basketball is probably a good move at least to maximize revenue from ticket sales from wealthy local individuals and large companies. After all a Box VIP season ticket (the lowest price point) is $137 a seat and multiply that by 42 games (including a preseason game) and you end up with $5,754.00 total. A 400 level season ticket at $16/seat is $672.00 a season with 42 games. $5,754 divided by $672 ends up being 8.5625 times the revenue a Box VIP season ticket seat gets over a 400 level seat. For those owner level seats, they cost $1,500/game, multiply that by 42 and that's $63,000.00 a year. That is worth 93.75 season tickets at the 400 level which cost $16 a seat. It doesn't seem that surprising to me that adding eight new owner level seats before the 2010-11 NBA season was a way to maximize more revenue by finding new season ticket holders that are very wealthy people or businesses rather than look for several hundred folks to take 400 level seats. Also, Ted definitely has dibs on a number of those seats since he sits there most of the time instead of the suite. Then again, I'm not a salesman in the sports world, so I don't know how hard it may be to close deals on even the very wealthy prospects who can afford to have the owner seats.
In essence, if the Wizards can sell as many VIP tickets they can, that would get a lot more revenue and do this more quickly than trying to sell out the 400's. Not saying that they don't care about the 400 level season ticket holders at all, but I do think that there could be more done to keep 400 level season ticket holders happy like more giveaways there, etc.
VIP tickets are not a bad deal if you can afford them. But STH's who sit close to the action should be getting these kinds of benefits, and any VIP STH who's also a fan of this team would demand results on the court as well. But I think regardless of where a fan has his or her season tickets, they need to have a good team on the floor which increases their morale and even the team for that matter. Fortunately, since John Wall returned from injury, we are finally beginning to see a team that figures to be competitive night in and night out.
2. Signage around Verizon Center
This won't be related to any team Ted owns, but it is an additional revenue stream. If and when these ads are there, I guess they'll help the bottom line somewhere, but I have no idea how much they could realistically increase profits. And installing the signs of course does have a significant cost, and it could in the short term be what stops the team from a major player move for the Wizards in particular since there's no true hard salary cap in the NBA.
3. Monumental Network is launched
Right now Monumental Network is essentially a website that basically shows the quick videos that are produced daily by the Wizards, Capitals, and Mystics also all available on the team sites, though Wizards/Mystics Magazine and Caps Red Line shows now appear to be online only shows and that's the direction Ted would like to take this team in at least.
Ted has made no secrets in hoping that he gets his own TV network, and Monumental Network appears to be the foundation of how he will get there. Here is an interview Ted did with Bloomberg Network earlier this month and on WTOP at the end of last January.
As of now, I don't think Monumental Network is making that much money if any at all since it is in a start up phase more or less. It's not uncommon for start ups to be losing money over their first several years even. However, if the company can get its own network and drive large advertising revenues, there could be a long term payoff as well.
4. Make significant investments in Washington Mystics basketball and business operations.
At least as of now, the Wizards and Mystics have shared business staff since Ted took over the Wizards. The Mystics have also stunk it up on the court and with long time fans after a franchise best 22-12 season in 2010 (53-29 equivalent for 82 games). Here's a Post article on more.
After terminating then head coach/GM Trudi Lacey after a 5-29 (12-70 equivalent for 82 games) record in 2012, Ted hired Mike Thibault as her replacement who coached the Connecticut Sun to two WNBA Finals appearances and eight playoff appearances over the last 10 years. Thibault was also a Bucks assistant coach when our "beloved" Ernie Grunfeld was there and he suggested Thibault as a candidate to Ted.
With business staff, after former Wizards/Mystics business chief Greg Bibb left to begin a sports start-up company at the end of last year, it appears that for the Mystics at least that there will be folks overseeing his responsibilities for the team with Ketsia Colimon as the new Director of Business Operations and Danita Johnson who is the new Director of Sales. In addition there will be new staff members who only handle the Mystics. I have a snapshot of the email that was sent last week here.
While this sounds like a good investment in order to build a staff that is truly dedicated to finding women's basketball fans, in particular those who are lukewarm to the men's game, I don't think the Mystics or any WNBA team's fanbase is different from an NBA or NHL team's fanbase in this regard that a winning team is what they want the most.
At the end of the day
All of the all inclusive packs, ad revenues that would come from signage around the Verizon Center or if Monumental Network became a television network in our area is great. I'd think that any fan of a Monumental Sports team wants to see the ownership succeed business wise. After all, we want to see our local team play indefinitely and not risk seeing the team relocate or possibly worse though that seems unlikely.
But ultimately, the most important product is the product on the basketball court or the hockey rink, and the success of the teams is what will make fans happy. While I at least can appreciate that Monumental Sports is investing in future projects that could result in additional revenues to help the bottom line, the company CANNOT get away from the most important short and long term goal of all: Improving basketball (or hockey in the case of the Caps) = improving customer service. Period.
All of these moves sound good on the surface, but the product of the game of basketball or hockey is what will make loyalty among long time fans even stronger. Let's hope that that product continues to improve over the next several months.