Wild sellout streak in jeopardy, but team doesn’t mind
By: By Bruce Brothers, St. Paul Pioneer Press, Superior Telegram
Don’t be surprised if the Minnesota Wild fail to sell out their exhibition game against the St. Louis Blues at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Xcel Energy Center.
Don’t be surprised if it sells out, however.
After a streak of 409 consecutive sellouts — every exhibition, regular-season and playoff game in the team’s nine seasons — the honeymoon between the team and its customers appears close to over.
Matt Majka, chief operating officer of the Wild, said today that “hundreds” of tickets remain for the exhibition opener.
“That’s going to be a tough game to sell,” owner Craig Leipold said the other day. “We’re really concentrating on opening night more than Wednesday, but it’s very possible that may end the sellout streak. We don’t know yet.”
Said Majka: “I don’t disagree with that. I’m not saying we’ve got it sold out, or anything like that.
“We just have to keep working hard and see what happens. I don’t think it will be an easy year to sell out every game. The first test is tomorrow night and we haven’t passed it yet.”
Leiopold, who admits that the Wild lost money last season when they failed to make the playoffs for the second consecutive year, shrugs off the possibility of the sellout streak ending.
“Everything comes to an end,” he said. “Every sellout streak was going to come to an end; 409 sellouts is something that this franchise can be very proud of.
“But I think, honestly, there’s a part of all of us, ‘Just let this thing get over with so we don’t have to talk about whether we’re sold out or not.’ What we concentrate on is what’s happening on the ice.
“The business of hockey is very important. If we don’t sell out one night, it still means almost all of our games are going to be sold out this year, and that’s something that every team in this league would be proud of.”
The Wild are pushing to peddle tickets, of course, offering 10- and 20-game ticket packages, bundling some games and making special offers.
Majka said the economy is a factor, as well as competition from other sports teams.
“Hey, the Twins have a fantastic thing going with a great new stadium and a great baseball team,” he explained. “The Vikings are excellent, and the Wolves are starting up, the Gophers ... you know there are a lot of options and people have to make difficult choices with their money.”
Leipold said the team is not agonizing over the streak coming to an end.
“Honestly, we’re not. It’s time for this thing to end,” he said. “There were games last year we were prepared to have the announcement that the sellout streak was over, and then we sold the game out.
“There really is no pressure on continuing the sellout streak. It’s a great thing to have; it’s something everybody’s proud of. But I have read the message boards and they’ve been saying, ‘Well, you know, they probably haven’t sold other games out.’ That’s not true. We have sold every game out.
“I made it clear last year, if a game’s not sold out, let’s call it. Let’s just end this thing. And we never got to that point.”
— Copyright (c) 2010, St. Paul Pioneer Press/Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services