Still not Kings at the box office
Got some interesting responses to the column I wrote for Saturday's paper saying that the Kings' promising start has made them worth watching, but their progress is coming at a time when the economy is in the dumper and it's tough to shell out big bucks for a hockey game (or any other event, for that matter). That difficulty has been reflected in the attendance announced at their last two home games -- in the low 14,000s -- and likely will be seen again Monday night when Colorado comes to Staples Center.
A number of the e-mails made a good point: I should have specifically criticized the Kings' arrogance in increasing prices after the team finished 29th overall last season, instead of generally condemning the years of bumbling and five non-playoff finishes that alienated so many fans.
An e-mail from John Franchi of the Ventura County Sheriff's Department -- who identified himself as a diehard fan and season-ticket holder of 15 years and gave me permission to publish his thoughts -- struck me as the height of stupidity on the Kings' part.
Here's what John had to say:
I looked forward every year to the new season and taking my son to the hockey game with me. However, after being a loyal fan through and through, I was appalled this past off-season when the Kings had the gall to raise (that's right raise) season ticket prices after finishing so poorly again. They should have been offering gifts and discounts to their fans for enduring their poor play.
What really bothered me was that because I sat behind where the Kings shoot twice, they raised my prices in this section and the identical section on the opposite side of the ice was reduced (where the visiting team shoots twice). The reason stated to me by my ticket guy was the tickets are worth more because the Kings shoot twice on this side of the ice. My response was, 'But all the goals are scored on the other end of the ice so why is their ticket cheaper?'
The Kings ticket guy laughed at my response and admitted that what I said was true. He told me that he didn't want to raise prices but that it was [General Manager] Dean Lombardi's idea. I warned him then, and it is evident now, that they would lose a significant amount of season-ticket holders by treating fans differently and raising prices after cutting a ton of salary....
They called me several times past the renewal date wanting me to renew and each time I asked, 'Just give me the tickets at last year's price and I'll renew.' Their response, 'We'd love to, but management won't allow it and we're losing tons of loyal fans because of this decision.'
The Kings can only blame themselves for this and no one else. I will never be a season-ticket holder again because of the way they treated us this past summer with raising prices. It was wrong and a slap in the face to many loyal customers.
Sounds like the Kings still need to make some big improvements in the pricing and customer-relations areas.
-- Helene Elliott
Photo: Carolina's Ryan Bayda attempts to shoot against Kings goalie Jason LaBarbera and defenseman Tom Preissing on Friday at Staples Center. Credit: Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press