I hope you are all doing great despite these trying circumstances currently surrounding Predators Nation. Over the last ten days, I have visited various on-line fan forums, and support/ petition websites and I am moved by your love for your team, your passion for this great game, and the fact you are willing do everything in your power to help keep the team in Nashville.
When the Nashville Predators made the playoffs for the very first time back in 2004, I made a point of watching Games Three and Four, the home games in Nashville, and revelled in the playoff excitement that hockey fans in Nashville were experiencing for the very first time. It was a spectacle, and rest assured, I could feel the arena’s atmosphere come right through my television here in Vancouver, Canada. It was pretty obvious to me the Predators had arrived, and could be considered contenders. Now everyone in the hockey world knows this about your team. However, not everyone has realized this about your team, and something tells me that’s about to change.
During my visits to all things Predators, I was pleased to discover “Our Team Nashville”, the group of Nashville business leaders, Predator fans and volunteers dedicated to raising the number of season ticket packages sold. The goal is to sell 3000 new season ticket packages within the business community by the beginning of the 2007/08 season. They are busy organizing meetings, luncheons and events with movers, shakers and the all important decision makers to achieve their goal. I wish them the very best.
I understand Predator fans are joining up with a local Nashville radio station (104.5 The Zone), and are planning a Predators Rally and a ticket-sales-a-thon at Sommet Center on July 19th, 2007. I wish you all the success with your efforts in this particular ticket sales drive. I see this is an annual event, however this one will definitely stand out as THE Predators rally to attend I am sure.
I visited www.savethepredators.com to see one of your fans, John Fesler, (aka, Cup Crazy on the Preds message board) is raising money towards season ticket purchases that will be donated to The Boys and Girls Club. This is a wonderful idea; not only are you supporting your NHL team, you also giving kids the opportunity to experience hockey played by one of the most exciting teams to watch during the 2006/07 season. In a short period of time, John has raised $1600, and he continues to take donations. GO JOHN GO!
While the rest of us hockey fans are languishing through the summer, waiting for the pre season to begin, you guys are keeping busy with ticket sales, fundraisers and awareness campaigns. Yep, summer will fly by fast for all of you!
I love how some of you have been calling on the local Nashville sports media. As we all know, sports media has so much power and reach when it comes to reporting the thrills and the chills of professional sport. But sadly, as many of you have pointed out on your discussion boards, some of the local sports media personalities haven’t embraced the game of hockey, and have gone as far as making fun of it. As one Predator fan put it, why would a corporation or business choose to support hockey after being exposed to prolonged negative commentary about the sport...or something of that nature.
Not only are sports fans customers of their teams, sports fans are also customers of the media reporting on the teams. Based on what some of you have been saying, Predator fan customers are switching over to, or have already switched over to The Nashville Post, as The Post provides better hockey coverage, including sending a reporter to the NHL Draft this past weekend. Predator fans, with your current email campaigns and live discussions you just might have a positive effect and see more balanced hockey coverage in your local media. That’s powerful stuff, my friends.
I also learned, via your hockey discussions, shared links and posted important email links, that youth hockey in Nashville has been growing over the last ten years. The 32-year-old Nashville Youth Hockey League’s membership has tripled, and now has over 700 boys and girls on the ice. And your high school hockey league has grown from three teams to 18 teams since the Predators came to town. After reading what some of the visitors to your message boards had to say (you know, the visitors from traditional hockey markets) about why they think the Predators should be moved to Hamilton, well, I think they’ve overlooked the hockey that is played below the NHL level in Nashville.
As NHL fans, we shouldn’t forget where our life long passion for hockey begins, and for many of us, it starts when we are children, running around with sticks during road hockey, or lacing them up and hitting the ice, pretending to be NHL players we see on TV or at the games. This makes me think of all the Nashville parents, the grand parents, the older brothers and sister fans, the aunts and uncles, the volunteers cheering on the kids during play. These are the people (and the Nashville Predators and fans, of course) who are responsible for nurturing and growing the game in your city for all of these years.
As much as the people of Hamilton want and deserve an NHL team, I can’t help but agree with what some of you have said to pro-Hamilton supporters on your message boards: “Yes, we want you to have a team in Hamilton, just not our team. Not our Predators.”
Predator fans, I will be keeping an eye on this situation over the summer, and I want you all to know I support you and will be pulling for you, in your efforts to sell those season tickets. You know if I lived in Nashville, I’d be a card carrying Fang.
Go Nashville GO! Go Predators GO!!
To learn more about the season ticket sales efforts, and events/ news involving the Nashville Predators, please visit these addresses…