After making a surprising (if fruitless) run to the playoffs during the 2008-09 season, the Columbus Blue Jackets had a disastrous campaign last year. It cost them their hard-driving head coach Ken Hitchcock and apparently had a Battlefield Earth-like effect on their ticket sales.
The Columbus Dispatch reports that Blue Jackets season ticket sales are down a whopping 24.5 percent from this time last year, a free fall that could be attributed to the team’s mammoth letdown last season.
The Blue Jackets are still feeling the affects of arguably their most disappointing season in franchise history.
The club confirmed to the Dispatch its season ticket sales are down 24.5 percent from a year ago. The organization has sold 7,700 season subscriptions to date — or 2,500 fewer than last year.
A year ago, Jackets’ season-ticket sales spiked for the first time since the 2001-02 season. They also increased corporate sponsorship at a time many sports franchises were losing revenue from that source.
“When we made the playoffs, it’s like it was going to erupt here,” Umberger said. “It’s up to us to get it back to that.”
It probably doesn’t help much that the team really didn’t add anyone significant via unrestricted free agency. Aside from hiring new head coach Scott Arniel, is there anything the organization can point to as a reason why the team will be significantly improved next season? (“The return of Nikita Filatov” probably won’t resonate with casual fans.)
Columbus is betting big that the addition of Arniel and the team’s maturation process will spur internal improvement. The Blue Jackets are up against a serious challenge in a tough Central division that includes the still-potent Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings plus a young St. Louis Blues team that added Jaroslav Halak this summer. We’ll see if their patient (or cash-strapped) yet idle approach will work out. I have some serious doubts about that.