Here’s the third and final installment of the question-and-answer session from last night. Hopefully I did an adequate job of proving y’all with the major points addressed. And given that two-thirds of those who have voted in the poll say they don’t care that the Kings are losing money, it seems that Chris McGowan, for the most part, was correct…
The next fan said he’s been watching since 1967, “when we had the Seals to pick on,” praised team management and asked Robitaille who he thought would win the Cup. Robitaille picked Pittsburgh, but jokingly hedged his bets.
There was a follow-up question about the fan-appreciation giveaways. The fan noted that three people won prizes in his section and two of them were wearing Ducks jerseys. He half-jokingly (I think) asked the Kings if they could rig the contest so that more season-ticket holders won. The panelists didn’t really answer, other than Hextall jokingly talking about rigging the draft lottery instead.
Another follow-up question was about the “obscene” parking prices and sought a change.
McGowan said, “Parking is what it is this year. We will try to find affordable options for our fans. … It’s not just us (AEG) building downtown.”
The next question I’m really not familiar with. It was about people “aggressively” selling time-share units near this fan’s section. There was also a complaint about food selection at the concession stands.
McGowan said, “With the time-share stuff, we’ll look into changing that, maybe having them be less vocal. We’re hearing a lot of food-related issues come up. … We have urged fans to give us detailed feedback about the food.”
The next question was about when there would be more road games televised, by Fox Sports Net, in HDTV, and also about the lack of bars and restaurants around the Staples Center neighborhood.
Robitaille noted that an “ESPN Zone” restaurant would soon be built across the street and, in regard to HDTV, said, “It depends on what cameras are there and who is doing the games. Different arenas have different angles. FSN wants all the games in HD, but in some cases we’re stuck and we have no choice.”
The next question was about Dan Cloutier, and whether a decision had been made on a buyout or whether to “bury him” in the minors. There was also a question about why season-ticket holders are required to purchase preseason games.
Hextall said, “We haven’t made a final decision on a buyout. I’m not going to lie and say we haven’t talked about it, but a final decision has not been made.
As for the preseason games, McGowan noted that the Kings require their season-ticket holders to pay for only two preseason games, which he said is fewer than most teams, and that season-ticket holders are able to purchase tickets at a reduced price compared to those who buy single-game tickets.
The next question was about (guess what?) parking, and whether the Kings would consider shuttles that run from local restaurants, etc.
McGowan noted that the Kings have looked at something the Denver Broncos do, which is to shuttle in fans from seven or eight different areas (sports bars, etc.) He indicated that the Kings would look into doing something similar.
The next fan praised the Kings’ effort but said they needed to do something to “turn heads” this year, to do things that will make high-caliber free agents want to sign here now.
Hextall talked about developing young players and the pride players feel when it comes to winning with the team they broke in with. Hextall also said, “If someone wants to come here as a 32- or 33-year-old, to be honest I’m asking why. It’s either money or they want to sit on the beach for a year. The No. 1 defenseman (in this year’s free-agent class) is not going to want to come here. That’s reality. He knows we’re not going to win next year and maybe not the next year, so why would he come here? The way we have to pitch it is, `We have a spot beside Kopitar’ and `We have a spot next to Jack Johnson.’ Hossa, if we gave him $10 million he might come here, but do we want a player like that to come in and just make us a little bit better? We will get good players at the right time; make no mistake. It might not be this year, but we will try.”
The next question was about giveaways (at the turnstiles, not by defensemen).
McGowan said that the Kings “did see a dropoff” in giveaways last season and said the goal was to have 15 giveaways per season. “It’s easy for us to ramp that back up,” McGowan said.
The next fan asked why beer prices are so high and asked how the Kings could better market the team to a “mainstream audience.”
McGowan said, “We’re asking for feedback and we’re marketing the team differently now. … In the past, we’ve set a lot of expectations with the way we marketed the team. You’ll see some very different marketing strategies.”
Robitaille said, “We don’t want to be gimmicky about it.”
The next fan stressed the need to have a team that plays together and players who pull for each other, and stressed the need for the Kings to “get free agents and keep them for a while.”
Hextall said, “I agree wholeheartedly. … We’re in the midst of building our foundation, then you add one or two guys, very selectively.”
The next fan, following up on an earlier question, said he found the players to be very accessible at practice and said he didn’t understand why other fans didn’t see the same.
McGowan said the Kings planned to better promote the fact that their practices are open to the public.
There was a follow-up question about the need to provide better benefits and discounts to season-ticket holders. The fan noted that he got a 10-percent-off coupon for the Team L.A. store but could get 20-percent off simply for participating in a text-message promotion during the game.
McGowan said, “If we’re going to charge more for our product, we have to provide better benefits. … We’re asking for fan feedback in these areas.”
The next fan, following up on Hextall’s comment about not signing players who just want to sit on the beach, ripped Rob Blake for doing just that and for being the first player off the ice at the end of practice.
Hextall said, “I tend to disagree there. Blakey is not a kid anymore and as you get older, there is a certain amount that you have to conserve. He’s in the gym a lot and he’s been a good influence on Jack Johnson and our young kids.”
Robitaille said, “For our young kids to see Blake in the gym every day, that’s a big thing.”