Fear for Hawks as ticket sales slow

BASKETBALL

Wollongong Hawks management is becoming increasingly concerned about the club's future after another slow week of ticket sales.

The Hawks are averaging the NBL's lowest crowds this season at just over 2000 per home game.

That figure has dropped to 1800 in the past two games, a disturbing trend which prompted the Hawks to substantially cut ticket prices for tonight's clash with New Zealand and next weekend's meeting with Adelaide.

But pre-game bookings have trickled in at the usual rate, leaving officials nervously relying on a large walk-up crowd.

If spectator numbers don't increase over the final four home games, the loss at the gate will have a significant impact on the club's 2013-14 bank balance.

Such a scenario could potentially destroy the Hawks.

The club's hierarchy says it has delivered on the public's demand for cheaper tickets, putting the ball, as it were, back in the fans' court.

"We've done what they've asked for, and our concern is that we've put it out there and the response has been very slow," Hawks general manager Stuart Wilkinson said.

"The interesting thing with tickets is they didn't change for three years. These last 12 months was the first time we've put them up.

"With everything and anything, prices go up, and we're getting charged more for services. We made that change and some fans came out and said it's too expensive. For us not to listen would be negligent and silly not to take it on board."

Various reasons have emerged for the drop in crowd numbers. The most common are expensive game tickets, WIN Entertainment Centre's costly food and beverage prices and the team's poor record over the first half of the season.

Wilkinson is hoping the Hawks' recent run of wins combined with the discounted ticket offer rekindles community interest.

"These next two games, the whole sole purpose of it is to test the grounds for next year," he said.

"It's not just a reactive promotion that we're doing, it's a research exercise. This is for us to pinpoint next year. If we get the response, that will set our foundation for next year. We can move forward and lock in a new pricing structure for the month of March.

"We just need the data to support it to show us it works. We're taking a significant risk financially and the onus now is really back on the community to show us if they support that.

"Our members and our partners are very supportive of that model. They come back, win or lose, because they believe in what we're doing and in the attitude of the guys.

"The opportunity over the next two games is for the community to get behind the club, be proactive and be a part of it."

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