Evil ploy by Atlanta Spirit in signing Dustin Byfuglien to a five year contract extension. My oddly hopeful op-ed on the meaning of this signing got featured on NHL.com and Puck Daddy... in just enough time for the ownership group to completely fell the fanbase with an interview in the AJC:
“If we are faced with [moving] as the only alternative, that’s what’s going to happen,” Gearon told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an exclusive interview Tuesday. “I don’t think there is an ability to stomach another $20 million in losses. We just can’t do it.
“The reality is we need fans showing up and we need investors, or a primary investor.”
Thanks a bunch, Buzz Killington. Needless to say, fans are upset. I've said my piece over on SBNation Atlanta. It's long. It's drawn-out. And frankly, it's pissed off.
Apparently they have not put money into the ways to get fans into the seats, which is why fans aren't coming. You want season ticket renewals to go up? Don't give an interview to the AJC about how the team could move in a few years. You want people to come to the games? Tell people when they are and advertise the fact that this city has a hockey team.
In further proof that a PR and marketing department is non-existent, this interview was given and released the day after the team announced that they re-signed Dustin Byfuglien to a five year extension. The fanbase barely had a chance to celebrate, and my op-ed on the re-signing of Byfuglien and what it means to Atlanta was passe in about 15 hours. Why would you release this news right after you state that you signed your star defenseman to an extension? Did they think that less attention would be paid to this news? Also, why announce this when the team's trying to fight their way back into a playoff spot? Is this their new version of a morale boost? Any momentum the team must have felt about Byfuglien being re-signed went out the window of their charter flight to (hilariously) Phoenix.
Not only do they blame the fans, they take measures to ensure that marketing and sales to the fans fail, thereby ensuring they can blame fans some more. Brilliant!