In their inaugural year, the Ottawa Redblacks sold an impressive 17,000 season tickets, proving to naysayers around the league that Ottawa is, always has been and always will be a CFL city. In fact, Ottawa had the largest season ticket holder base in the East last season, just edging out the Ticats.
Typically renewal rates for expansion teams run about 50%, as many people get caught up in the buzz, excitement and novelty of a new team but once the hype dies down don’t have interest in shelling out cash for a season long commitment in year two.
Luckily for OSEG (Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group) and team President Jeff Hunt, Ottawa isn’t a typical market. In a season preview conference call with the media last week, Hunt revealed that the Redblacks have sold 15,500 season ticket equivalents so far, which comes out to around an 80% renewal rate. That’s even more impressive when you factor in that the Redblacks are coming off a 2-16 season, and one in which the team struggled mightily to put up points at home, only scoring 13 TDs through 9 games at TD Place. Also, though the stadium was complete, Lansdowne itself was still under construction, taking away from the game day festivities. This year, fans will have tons of options to “tailgate”, with numerous restaurants and bars now open right beside the stadium.
Let’s dig a bit deeper into the numbers. It’s worthing noting that last season’s 17,000 season tickets included tickets sold in a 3 game home opener pack, which is once again being offered. 80% of 17,000 is 13,600, so with the Redblacks currently sitting at 15,500 season ticket equivalents, that means just under 2000 fans have bought 3 game packs. That number is very likely to continue to rise, as training camp kicks off, hype builds for the home opener vs BC on July 4th, and OSEG works the phones.
Hunt isn’t just relying on his sales team to work their magic either, as he’s personally getting in on the action.
“Every single season-ticket holder that has not renewed, I’m calling personally to get their feedback and opinions on the season that was, to thank them for their support in Year 1 and try and persuade them to return as a season-ticket holder. I would say I’ve spoken to about 15 people and left about 100 messages.”
I don’t know about you, but if I had the president of my team take time out of his day to personally call and chat with me, there’s a real high chance I’d at the very least pick up a 3 game pack. It’s little things like this that exemplify the lengths OSEG will go to be successful in this community.
R-Nation sold out TD Place 9 times last season, making Ottawa the only team in the CFL to sell out every home game. The fact that the Redblacks already have 15,500 season tickets sold with a month and a half remaining before their home opener bodes well for the future.