Senators hope prices right

LAURA CZEKAJ -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:27 AM ET

The Ottawa Senators are trying to win back the hearts and minds of fans by freezing and slashing ticket prices.

The hockey club kicked off its upcoming season yesterday by announcing a two-year season ticket price freeze, a 5% rebate on all 2005-06 season tickets and a price reduction on 1,500 lower-bowl seats by as much as 33%.

Season-ticket holders will receive a free player-autographed Sens replica jersey and more than 13,000 additional free tickets.

All Coca-Cola Zone game-day seats have dropped in price to $12.82 plus tax per game, more than 8,000 300-level seats have been reduced in price by an average of 5% and opening night sweepstakes on Oct. 8 will provide fans with an opportunity to win prizes such as season tickets.

Three games early in the season will be designated as Welcome Back Nights when all single-game prices will be cut in half. Those dates will be announced in the near future.

The club has also renewed its commitment to minor hockey by providing $1-million worth of discounted tickets for the players' use or for fundraising.

Club officials are counting on the reduced prices combined with the lure of a Stanley Cup contender and new game rules to bring fans back into the Senators fold.

'A GOOD PRODUCT'

"You work with them, you tell them you are sorry you had to go through a lockout and you ask them to come back," said Senators chief operating officer Cyril Leeder. "We think we have a good product. The Senators are important to the community."

A 150-page marketing plan was put together by the club, including the price reductions, with the aid of thousands of polled fans.

"I think this whole time period that we were forced to sit out gave us a lot of time to look at what we need to do to improve," said Senators president and CEO Roy Mlakar.

He expressed confidence that the new initiatives will win back disgruntled fans.

"Nobody said this was going to be easy," he said. "It's going to be a long haul and we understand what we have to do."

Senators winger Chris Neil said the players' profile in the community and their involvement in charities has helped to alleviate any lingering animosity on the part of fans.

"For the most part, the fans are really excited that the game is back on and it's going to be a new look on hockey with the new rule changes," he said. "Just the new look on the Ottawa Senators with new coaching and new goaltending -- it's going to be an exciting year for the Ottawa fans."

FAN-TASTIC OFFERS

Some of the Sens' measures to bring the fans back:

FOR SEASON-TICKET HOLDERS

- Two-year season-ticket price freeze.

- 5% rebate on all 2005-06 season tickets.

- 1,500 lower-bowl seats reduced in price by as much as 33%.

- Free player-autographed replica jersey

- Additional free bonus tickets

- Exclusive event with Andre-Philippe Gagnon on Oct. 3.

FOR ALL FANS

- All Coca-Cola Zone game- day seats reduced by 28% to $12.82 per game, plus tax.

- More than 8,000 300-level seats reduced in price by an average of 5%.

- Opening Night Sweepstakes -- a chance to win season tickets, Opening Night tickets for life and more great prizes.

PLUS

- $1 million for minor hockey -- tickets for fun and fundraising.


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