The Charlotte Bobcats want Wednesdays to be the new day to party.
The team is spending $18,000 advertising on the citys light-rail trains and forming partnerships with several EpiCentre restaurants and nightclubs. The hope? That young people will turn a mid-week basketball game into a full night out.
Senior Vice President for Marketing Seth Bennett said the team hopes it will be a stimulus to the whole uptown corridor. The Bobcats also hope it will boost attendance on a day when it is generally much more difficult to fill seats.
Team President and CEO Fred Whitfield said he charged the marketing department with coming up with a plan to boost attendance on Wednesdays soon after the team received its schedule. It called for 13 Wednesday home games, the most its ever had. And the opponents including the Miami Heat, New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Clippers were pretty good draws.
We felt we had the opportunity to make Time Warner Cable Arena the place to be on Wednesday nights, Whitfield said.
Friday and Saturday nights tend to be popular for families, a reason the teams Sprite Family Night promotion tends to run on those days. A weeknight will skew more to young professionals or college students, Bennett said, and the new Wednesday night promotion reflects that.
Heres how its supposed to work, according to the Bobcats:
Youll buy a ticket online, starting at $10. You can use that as your ticket to get on the light rail to uptown for free, hopping off at the stop between Time Warner Cable Arena and the EpiCentre.
Maybe youll stop in at BlackFinn, Whisky River or Vida for dinner, all of which are offering free appetizers with your meal if you have a ticket.
Once youre done, youll wander past a live radio broadcast of WFNZ on your way into the arena. Some nights, retired NBA greats like David Thompson, Robert Parish and Eric Sleepy Floyd might be out to meet fans.
Inside, you can buy bottomless popcorn, $4 beers and a $10 T-shirt.
After the game, you can get into the Suite nightclub without a cover, or get free bowling shoes with a game at Strike City.
The light rail then takes you home. CATS staff will be trained to look for the right ticket, which will be good all day.
They can ride to work, go to the game, and then go home, said Olaf Kinard, Charlotte Area Transit Systems marketing and communication director.
Energy in the building
The initiative comes as the team and its fans rebound from the most dismal season in NBA history. Theyre nobodys pick to contend for a championship this year, of course, but the team has already matched last years win total of seven.
Whitfield, the team president, credited new coach Mike Dunlap and his high-energy, defense-oriented playing style.
It literally keeps us in every game, Whitfield said. Theres been a lot of energy in the building.
Whitfield said the team has added 2,000 new season ticket holders, and had a nearly 80 percent season ticket renewal rate both of which he said stack up well with other NBA teams.
Since last years lockout-shortened season didnt start until Christmas, the team hasnt been able to compare attendance with last year.
The more we win, the more our fan base will get behind us, he said.
Dunn: 704-358-5235 Twitter: @andrew_dunn
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