Are You All-in for 2011?

Are You All-in for 2011?

Thursday’s announcement of the Chicago Fire’s new 2011 Season Ticket pricing and incentive plan, aptly named “All in for 2011”, should leave the club’s season ticket base feeling pretty good as they go to renew their tickets for next season. It should also go a long way in securing additional season ticket holders for next season.

Electing to go with a simplified pricing model for 2011, the club has reduced the number of stadium sections from 10 to six while keeping 97% of the stadium priced exactly the same as it is this year. The only increase is a $20 bump that came with making the upper deck or “Skyway” level all at one price – just one dollar more a game at $199.

Pricing good? Check.

The real story of Thursday’s announcement is the collection of unprecedented incentives the club is offering to its 2011 Season Ticket Holders, namely free and reduced parking and a 12-month payment plan. The two add-ons are certainly uncommon in professional sports and unheard of in the Windy City market.

Other incentives include 20% discounts on merchandise and a “Build the Club” rewards program, allowing current season ticket holders to earn a credit worth 20% of whatever their referral purchased with the club and allows the referral to receive a five percent savings on their 2011 purchase.

Chicago Fire Director of Ticket Sales Mike Ernst explained to me the genesis of the incentives mostly came from a survey put out to the club’s current season ticket holders.

“The survey is part of a philosophy we have as an organization which is being fan first,” said Ernst. “We wanted to learn from our fans what they thought we could do to improve their experience at Toyota Park. We need them, they’re going to be the ones going out to tell their friends and others about us. We want them to feel that connection to our club and our desire was to make sure they had some ownership in the process.”

You know fans had ownership in the process because no one in Chicago enjoys paying for parking. Season Ticket holders this year paid $240 for a discounted parking pass, now fans with two tickets in Corner Kick up to Van Kampen FieldSide seats will have free parking, while those in Section 8 and on the Skyway will have their parking for the season cut in half to $120 or $6 per game.

 According to Ernst parking was the number one response in the fan survey.

“In some cases, it was more expensive to park than it was to attend the game. We took a look at all the other teams in town and you realize that in this city parking is a very key thing – it’s very expensive. It’s a huge thing to be able to tell our fans, we want you to enjoy these savings.”

It led me to wonder, what could the money saved on parking buy you?

-        20 draft beers at Toyota Park -- one for each game included in the Chicago Fire season ticket package.

-        40 gallons of gas to go towards getting out to the stadium and perhaps following the team on the road to Columbus, Toronto or perhaps Portland next season…

-        Personalized authentic long sleeve jersey when you utilize your 20% savings on merchandise…

-        3 tickets to see Billy Elliot at the Ford Center

-        4  adult or six children’s tickets to the Shedd Aquarium

You’re also over halfway to another season ticket with the $120 savings… Purchase another one and bring a friend a game!

In every case, Ernst thinks the savings will serve as a catalyst in helping the club reach its growth potential.

“You look at what Seattle, Philadelphia and Toronto have done, you have to start somewhere. We want 20,000 people at Toyota Park every home game and there’s no doubt that the Chicago marketplace has the potential for that to happen.”