Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Despite Playoff Miss, Texas Stars Score Near Record Attendance in Tenth Season

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
In their tenth season in Central Texas, the Texas Stars are still a great draw. The team celebrated a decade in Cedar Park with their second-best average attendance ever: 5,406. This year trailed only the 2011-12 season, which saw an average of 5,470 and was a jump of over a hundred per game compared to last season.

“We had a great response from our season ticket holders for the tenth anniversary year,” Texas Stars Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Michael Delay told 100 Degree Hockey when reached by phone last week. “The sales team did a great job. Groups were up this year. I think we increased groups by over 11%.”

Season ticket holders form the majority of the ticket base in H-E-B Center’s 6,863 full capacity crowd. Incentives for the tenth season including commemorative jerseys and the chance to drop the puck before the game were big draws for retention and growth of those numbers. Winning Wednesday, where fans in attendance for a Wednesday win get a free ticket to the next Wednesday game, also yielded huge dividends as Texas won six straight Wednesday games from December 5 to March 27.

The Stars saw 26 nights with attendance over 5,000. Their record is 27, set during the 2011-12 season. They also set a team best for fewest nights under 4,000, just two.

“Not too bad considering we went two and a half months with a net loss of 570 seats,” continued Delay. “We might have done a bit better if we had had those extra seats for the last two and a half months.”

The missing seats in the visitor’s end zone were definitely a factor in the Stars not getting to record attendance. In the ten weeks after the seats broke, Texas lost twelve homes games worth of attendance in those sections. If Texas had averaged 35% occupancy or better in those sections during that stretch, they would have set a new record.

“We might have been able to get there with all the great nights we had on the back half. It is what it is.”

Texas had some more new variables to deal with as well. It seems second nature now, but this was the first year with a harmonized 7 PM start time for all home games. Delay expects that to continue, “That was a request that came down from the hockey side of things. We looked at those Friday games, and we were one of the last holdouts for 7:30 games. It’s become pretty much a standard across the board that folks are doing 7 o’clock local time start.”

For individual ticket buyers, many received text messages this year reminding them that Texas was in town and tickets were on sale. “There’s a few teams using their peer-to-peer texting platforms, and that was something new we tried. If you think about your personal experience of getting an email versus a text. The email might sit in your inbox if it’s a newsletter or something like that. But if you get a text message, you’re much more likely to respond back to it in one way or another.

“We’re looking to continue it, so I would say that it’s been successful.”

Theme nights were a success again, and Texas is busy planning the coming season. This is the the “busiest time of the year behind the scenes,” according to Delay, with game operations, specialty jerseys, theme nights and giveaways all in the planning stage. “It’s constantly tweaking. We can’t just cookie cutter. We’re always looking to change things up. Two years ago, Harry Potter [night] wasn’t a thing for us, but now it’s one of our mainstays.”

The Stars look ahead to the next season, their eleventh at H-E-B Center, ready to innovate to keep the building packed and loud.

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