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Griffins tickets in demand despite smaller crowds

Hockey team sees increase in full- and partial-season plans, expects bigger attendance once football season ends.

November 10, 2017
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Griffins officials are expecting even bigger crowds during the middle of winter based on an uptick in group ticket packages. Courtesy Grand Rapids Griffins

Although the crowd size doesn’t quite reflect it, tickets for the Grand Rapids Griffins are in high demand.

The momentum from the Griffins’ 2017 Calder Cup championship has carried over to the 2017-18 season, despite the $3 ticket price increase.

“Fans have been purchasing tickets for the season. For the first five home games this season, 31,354 tickets have been sold,” said Matt Batchelder, vice president of ticket sales.

Batchelder said the full-season ticket holders have increased by 13 percent, and the team also has seen an increase in partial-season ticket holders. 

“As of right now, we are up 39 percent for partial-season plan sales compared to last season,” he said. 

With a partial-season package, there is a 10-game plan or a 20-game plan. 

The 20-game package largely has contributed to the 39-percent increase in the partial-season package, Batchelder said. He added fans have been gravitating toward the lower level seats.

“For our bigger Friday and Saturday night games, we’ll sell out our lower level seats early in the week like on a Monday. We might not have any lower level tickets available outside of single seats,” Batchelder said. “For Friday and Saturday games, the only seats that are available are upper-level seats.”

Batchelder said the age demographic of fans who attend games is wide, but the full-season ticket holders tend to be 40 and older. However, during the past three seasons, he said he has seen a younger crowd.

“Even if they are young couples or young families, they are using the Griffins games for their primary entertainment in the winter and early spring months,” Batchelder said. “The average age for a partial-season holder is 30 years old.”

Group ticket sales also have played a role in the increase in sales, Batchelder said.

“We are working with a lot of businesses, business owners that are using tickets for client and employee appreciation, employee engagement retention,” Batchelder said. “So, we are definitely seeing a wide variety when it comes to that. It covers church groups, school groups, fraternities and sororities. So, the group sales vary quite a bit.”

Batchelder said the team started noticing the rise in ticket sales during last season’s Western Conference Final. Last season, the Griffins averaged over 8,000 fans per game.

This season, the attendance ranks in the top 10 in the American Hockey League, but according to Batchelder, once the December, January and February months arrive, the crowd size will increase, thanks to group ticket nights. 

“A lot of the 10- and 20-game plan ticket holders select games in the heart of our season, so that number will continue to climb,” Batchelder said.

Robert Brown, a three-year season ticket holder, said the crowd size has been okay.

“Except when Michigan and Michigan State are playing football,” Brown said, laughing. 

Griffins coach Todd Nelson echoed Brown’s remarks.

“We will really gain some momentum when football season ends,” Nelson said.

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