Komets fans drawn to good hockey, promotions
Team looks to increase game attendance with discounts, theme nights
Like a defenseman grinding out power-play minutes, last season didn’t go exactly as the Fort Wayne Komets had planned.
Saddled with early COVID-19 precautions and restrictions, the organization made it work even if they weren’t at full strength.
“We had an understanding (last year that) this may affect our walk-up sales and some of our season ticketholders and groups,” said Josh Testin, Komets director of sales and marketing.
That was then. This is now. The buzz is back, and it’s real according to Testin.
“We just surpassed our season ticket number from last season,” he said. “We’ve seen tremendous support from our corporate partners heading into the season. And with our season tickets and single-game tickets, we are starting to see that the reluctance from waiting out these restrictions is gone.”
Prices remain the same
With promising numbers, spirits are upbeat in the front office.
“There are more companies doing outings,” Testin said. “So, now, we can go into this year taking a mindset of returning to normal.”
That means the Komets can do what they do best: Have fun and create memories.
The games should have energy that matches the excitement of 2019 and before. That makes a Komet game the place to be on a free night.
“We hope so,” Testin said. “We hope walk-up (sales) get closer to what they were a few seasons ago. We set the schedule up to get people out early in the season with fun promotions.”
The Komets are also banking on steady ticket prices sparking interest. They remain at $10-$30.
Along with keeping ticket prices consistent, there are also a number of ways to get discounted tickets, like Marathon Gas having two ticket deals available for home games.
Every Wednesday is Marathon Rewards night. To get buy one, get one free tickets, simply download the Marathon app and show it at the box office. There are four of these nights in 2022-23.
Friday nights will also feature Marathon’s Fill-Up nights, when you can present your stamped Fill-Up Card for a special buy one, get one free ticket.
Sunday home games are Meijer Family Nights. On these nights, fans can purchase four upper arena tickets for $54, and the ice will be open for fans to skate after the game.
Military Appreciation Night gives discounts to veterans and active duty service members.
“For kids alone, we’ve got two report cards and other nights where they get in with the purchase of an adult ticket,” Testin said.
After 71 seasons, the Komets have plenty of tradition to tap as an organization. The Franke family has also created new ones with more than 30 years at the helm.
New Year’s Eve and Thanksgiving games are back as well as some other favorites. That means more than a half dozen theme nights and plenty of ticket giveaway nights.
The Komets opened exhibition play Friday, Oct. 14, at Wheeling, then faced Wheeling at Memorial Coliseum Sunday, Oct. 16, for a preseason game.
The regular season starts Friday, Oct. 21, at the Indy Fuel with the star-studded home opener the following night, Saturday, Oct. 22, at 7:30 p.m. against Cincinnati.
It will be a party atmosphere for the home opener due to thousands of light-up glow wands being distributed to the first 6,000 fans to blanket the arena in orange for player introductions. Fans will also receive magnet schedules.
The Komets tried a similar promotion a few years ago, and Testin said it was stunning.
“It puts on an atmosphere for those player introductions that you wouldn’t believe,” he said.
The following weekend, the Komets will play into the spirit of Halloween with the expansion Savannah Ghost Pirates coming to the Coliseum on Oct. 28-29. The Friday night game will features Scooby-Doo characters, a special jersey, a costume parade on ice, and a mask giveaway.
“It’s a great way to kind of put together a good Halloween theme on a Friday, and we don’t interfere with any kids doing trick or treating on Monday,” Testin said.
Another highlight is the next night, Saturday, Oct. 29, for the annual Teddy Bear Toss. On that night, when the Komets net their first goal, fans throw new or gently used stuffed animals on the ice. The bears are collected for needy children and adults ahead of the holiday season.
The Bob Chase Memorial Game is Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24. Complete with throwback jerseys, it’s one of six special nights where the game-worn sweaters will be auctioned with proceeds benefiting a local charity.
Other highlights include MLK Tribute Night on Jan. 15, Komets Fight Cancer on Feb. 18, and Jurassic Night on March 5.
The Komets will have six jersey nights with special designs to match the theme of the night, and they will be auctioned off after the game for charity.
Princess Night will be March 26 gives kids a chance to meet their favorite princess characters and dress-up in costume for the on-ice princess parade.
‘Komet hockey town’
Let’s not forget old Komets standbys like Icy D. Eagle, the team’s mascot, who has a rare ability to capture attention.
“He’s something else for sure,” Testin said. “We were fortunate to have a mascot like him. He finds ways to interact with people on a totally different level.”
Testin admits the team’s success isn’t necessarily connected to die-hard hockey fans because the Komets have a special connection to their fans.
“(We try to connect) whether it’s one of our themes or something unique and different that we do on the videoboard, to try to engage our fans, invest in them as best as possible,” he said. “We always say that Fort Wayne isn’t necessarily a hockey town. It’s more of a Komet hockey town.”