Preds aim to keep the red out

Updated: August 15, 2013, 11:42 AM ET
By Scott Powers | ESPNChicago.com

The Nashville Predators adjusted the way tickets for games against the Chicago Blackhawks are purchased next season in order to limit the number of Chicago fans in Bridgestone Arena.

Some have labeled the effort: "Keep the red out."

The Predators recently announced they will not sell single-game tickets to their three home games (Nov. 16, Dec. 17 and April 12) against the Stanley Cup champions. To attend those games, fans will have to purchase tickets to a second game as well.

"Our objective is to give our team the best home-ice advantage each and every game," said Gerry Helper, Predators vice president of hockey communications and public relations, by phone Wednesday. "Our ticket plans benefit and appreciate our ticket holders by giving them the best possible pricing, sales and availability, so they can have the chance to purchase these tickets before anyone else, whether they're from Nashville, Chicago or Timbuktu."

Helper said the plan didn't have a specific name, but "Keep the Red Out" has created some traction following an interview Predators president and CEO Sean Henry recently did with Section303.com about the ticket initiative.

[+] EnlargeChicago Blackhawks
Don McPeak/US PresswireThe Blackhawks must feel at home in Nashville with so many red sweaters in the crowd.

"The best way to buy a Blackhawk ticket is to have a season ticket, a half-season ticket or a 15-game plan," Henry told the website. "But we also realize that we're still going to have to sell 3,000-4,000 single tickets for that game. What it's going to do by forcing another game is we'll almost direct it toward people that live in the general area, for the most part. And [for the pre-sale] only those in the zip codes that we unlock can buy the Blackhawk game and a second game. So we're breaking down every barrier we can to keep the red out.

"[Blackhawks fans are] going to have to earn it. And they're going to help us continue to grow our roster by building our [revenue at the] gate. It's that simple. In the end, we're building something pretty special. If we have to do it off the backs of their fans a little bit, I'm not apologizing for it."

Blackhawks fans have developed a reputation for attending road games, especially those in Nashville, in large numbers in recent years. Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews remarked on the fans' road presence after a game in Anaheim last season. The Blackhawks were 18-4-2 on the road during the 2013 regular season.

"It's been pretty exciting with these road games," Toews said in March. "Almost half the building is Hawks fans, so it's pretty exciting to hear the 'Go Hawks Go' chant on the road. Not a lot of teams get that, but we've got some special fans and people that follow us all over."

The Blackhawks declined comment on the Predators' ticket plan.

Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.

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