I know Monumental Sports' decision to raise ticket prices in most locations for next season has made many people unhappy. It doesn't add up when the building isn't selling out, which shows us that the D.C. area as a whole isn't hyped about the Wizards now, even with their improved play.
As a whole, season ticket holders (STHs from now-on) are the diehards fans of a team, and they want to watch a good product on the floor. However, Monumental Sports' ticket sales and guest services employees can't trade players or fire coaches when things are going wrong with the basketball product. How else can they help improve the experience of going to a basketball game?
Here are 10 ideas to that effect:
Clear a block of 100 seats in the lower level to create a cheering section
I once again talked to sublime1983, who attended a STH focus group last January, for his thoughts on how the ticket holder experience could improve. This is one thing he wanted to see the most, and I actually agree with him here.
With this, we'd see a group of super fans in the stands who sit relatively close, are rowdy and could help lead cheers. I'm thinking about fans like William Stilwell, a/k/a "Goat," for the Capitals. Here's an example of his iconic "LET'S GO CAPS!" chant:
There could be some fans out there who could be like him for the Wizards.
Unlike Stilwell, who is a Caps STH, these 100 fans would be going to games at no charge. In return, these 100 fans cannot sell their tickets on the secondary market and need to attend nearly every game. Even with these conditions in place, which I think is fair, I'd imagine that there will be well over 100 people who would audition to be part of a "cheering section." Doing something like this would also be good publicity for the team and for Monumental Sports.
I'm not saying that the Wizards' Power Pack entertainment team serves no purpose. But the Power Pack folks aren't cheering from seats. This cheering section will.
Find more area businesses that would offer discounts to Wizards STHs
A growing number of professional sports teams are rebranding season tickets as "clubs." Monumental Sports has done this with the teams it owns. Wizards STHs are known as D.C. 12 Club members, and Capitals STHs are known as Club Red 365 members. Mystics STHs will now be called Mystics Club 52 members, per an email sent to their group.
One way to increase the value of a season ticket besides the tickets themselves is to include discount programs for places around the area. The Phoenix Suns do this with their STHs, offering a 20 percent discount at a number of restaurants and other businesses.
In the past, the Wizards had such a program, but they never publicized it much and the discount offers I saw never really were of much interest to me. But having a discount program, including a wide variety of restaurants and recreational areas, could be well received by many STHs.
Improve the Monumental Rewards program by allowing points to be redeemable for discounts/gift certificates
Monumental Rewards is the company's multi-team program that allows STHs to redeem their reward points for additional experiences like a high five tunnel, getting autographed memorabilia and bids on concert suite tickets. One of the cool features of the program is that Wizards STHs can redeem merchandise from the other teams.
However, there doesn't appear to be much merchandise available, so perhaps the points should also be able to be converted into team store discounts or even through the Wizards' online store. Maybe they could even offer gift certificates for Amazon through the rewards program.
Improve wireless internet access in the arena
Right now, it leaves a lot to be desired. In today's world, people want to be able to tweet, post a picture on Instagram and/or put a status on Facebook as soon as possible. It's hard to use this if the WiFi and the cell phone networks have heavy traffic.
To be fair to Monumental Sports, it is rectifying this problem as we speak, given that the company partnered with Mobilitie to install a new network that should be finished in the spring.
Install mobile device charging stations in all levels around the entire arena
In this new world where people want to be connected to their mobile devices at all times, there need to be charging stations for iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Mobile devices in a large number of areas throughout the arena. I don't really see many such stations right now.
Offer more postgame STH events at a Chinatown bar or restaurant
This is another suggestion that sublime1983 felt passionate about. After games, perhaps a restaurant/bar in Chinatown should have an "after-party" where there are food and drink specials to allow fans to mingle. In addition, if this is coupled with a player appearance, that could really help as well.
This doesn't appear to be that much of a stretch to do as it is, because Monumental Sports already has Wizards Bar Tour games to allow people to have discounted drinks before the game at nearby bars.
Expand or add restrooms in the event level for VIP STHs
People who have seats in these locations enjoy an all-inclusive experience where the price of their ticket pays for their parking, food and drink, which includes beer and wine. However, there is a shortage of restrooms on the event level, so either fans have to wait in line at the existing restrooms at the Coaches Club or the Courtside Clubs or they need to walk up the aisles to restrooms in the 100 level.
The reason why there is a shortage is partly because those spaces were never intended to hold as many people as they do now that Monumental Sports runs the show and expanded amenities for these fans. But when people can drink as much as they want, nature calls. People, even in these areas, don't want to wait a long time or walk a long distance to use the restroom. Expanding or adding restrooms if it's architecturally feasible would definitely be a good thing.
Consider creating a Wizards women's only fan club
The Capitals have Club Scarlet for women and it's been a hit, where club members can meet around town for networking events, meet players, and more. Here's an article from The Hockey Writers on the club, though it is from 2011. Still, I see a higher degree of engagement from women with the Capitals than the Wizards, at least when I am going to games at Verizon Center. If we had a similar fan club for the Wizards, it could also be equally successful.
I don't think that a Wizards women's only fan club would be going against the Mystics, because the reality is that most NBA basketball fans don't care much for the WNBA, and that even includes women. But if whoever runs such a club could do it the right way, it could increase some interest in their team, in particular for the club members who have daughters.
Increase the variety of halftime acts in Wizards games
Okay, I'm throwing out my favorite halftime act. I want to see The Red Panda Acrobat back for halftime! (Well, at least once she recovers from injury).
Recently, the shows have tended to be either youth basketball teams or other local acts. While I do appreciate that local groups should have a chance to be a halftime act whether it's a local college's dance troupe or a youth basketball team, I would like to see more of the "bigger" shows too.
Offer more off-site STH events around the D.C. area
The STH party at Six Flags is one good event, of course. However, Monumental Sports should consider having more events outside of Verizon Center throughout the year. I'll just throw a couple suggestions: How about a Wizards TopGolf night in Alexandria, with appearances by selected players? Or maybe a day at the Baltimore National Aquarium?
These don't have to be the only options, but the D.C. area has many things to do. Events like these could help add more value to full season tickets.
Have any more ideas? Feel free to sound off in the comments below.