Tuesday, June 27, 2006


Let's all stand on the common ground. Yes, I'm smoking crack. But it's good crack...

The Cincinnati Rollergirls arrive August 13!!!!!!!

Also check out this skater blog with the cool song by Angie Heaton.

OK, here's the crack smoking part:

Have the Rollergirls skate at the Gardens, and cross-promote with the Cyclones.

Everybody can agree that tough chics with tattoos are cool. Right?

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Why I Believe The Railraiders Failed

I had an entry all prepared for this week on Loyalty. It ended up being my longest yet. I’m too windy sometimes; I need to try and prune it down some. Or maybe I’ll just let it fly as-is. I don’t know. Meanwhile I’ll tackle a topic that I originally intended to avoid. I don’t want this to be an anti-Gardens/Ducks/Railraiders site because, as my Loyalty post will explain, I have had some very good personal experiences with the whole crew there and I truly wanted them to succeed. Their quest for a team to start this year symbolized the rebirth of a 1-team town. The amount of new business signing up meant they had a tremendous chance to start anew, holding on to the fans that wish and simply leaving behind the fans that weren’t interested. It was a marvelous opportunity.

That is why I was crushed when they did not get the 2000 season ticket commitments and had to cancel their quest.

I think they did their level best. Certainly they did not intend to fail. But fail they did. Not in the negative context, like a person failing for lack of trying. They had a requirement of 2000 season tickets and they failed to meet that requirement, thus they were unable to obtain an affiliation needed to reactivate the franchise.

Some people blame certain fans. This is wrong and bad. You can never blame the consumer for not buying the product. It is the seller’s responsibility to make people want to buy. Actually, the seller needs to convince people that they need the product. Today’s life has the family entertainment budget spread all over the place. The Railraiders failed to convince people that they needed to buy advance tickets.

So, why did they fail? I don’t have a crystal ball and I can’t say exactly why. But I do have an opinion on what they could have done better in order to hopefully meet their goal. I don’t think it would have hurt things; but it surely would have helped.

If you looked for the information, clearly they made no secret that the 2000 season ticket equivalent sales was required. It was in their press releases, it was in their news conferences, ticket sales reps and Gardens staff stated it openly and some fans mounting a strong grass roots campaign preached it. They even maintained the radio show and talked about it there (but how many people were actually listening?).

Despite all that, too many potential buyers had no idea of the need to get season ticket commitments. They had a market of about a million people and only needed 2000 of them to take a season ticket (or 1000 to buy two).

The most interested people did get the message that there was a requirement. But most people did not look far enough to find out. These people were reached only or mainly via the commercial that aired all winter. The premise of the commercial was cute enough – don’t hang on to the past, look to the future of hockey in Cincinnati. But the message delivered betrayed the intent. People remember tidbits of commercial messages in sound bite form (Where’s the beef?).

The main message that people got from the commercial was “The Railraiders are coming to town.” They were told to put away their Ducks, Cyclones, and even Stingers jerseys because “The Railraiders are coming to town.” Good news Cincinnati, “The Railraiders are coming to town.”

No urgency. No requirement. No need for fans to get on board quickly. The Railraiders are coming town.

I’m guessing they wanted to portray confidence in the product. They probably were concerned that anything less would appear too volatile and unstable, not worthy of any risk – or perceived risk (there really was not a risk since the deposit was refundable). But that strategy did not work. I know too many people who are genuine hockey fans and had the financial means to buy tickets; but they had no idea how imperative it was for them to sign up.

These are people who watched hockey all winter, saw the commercial, and could have bought tickets. Ordinarily they would not have bought season tickets. They would go to a bunch of games when the time was right but they didn’t see the need to buy tickets in advance. They got the clear indication that the team would be there for them. After all, “the Railraiders are coming to town.”

I remember when the Stingers needed 5000 season tickets to maintain operations. It was a total grass roots campaign. They had photo-ops of Johnny Bench and Pete Rose handing over their checks. They made the sense of urgency known and they gave regular updates. The message was “Save our hockey team.”

Why buy season tickets when “The Railraiders are coming to town?” It was a tactical decision made early in their ad campaign and they stuck to it all the way through. It did not work. Even the updated commercial gave the deadline but it did not explain what the deadline was. People thought that was the final date maybe for the best pricing or whatever – not that it was critical to purchase by then.

So, the boat was missed. The train left the station. They were decisive in their approach but hindsight shows that it was not the best approach. A full-disclosure campaign, in my opinion, would not have meant the loss of any commitments; but it may have added enough for them to move forward.

Now, in their absence, the Cyclones are coming to town. Only time will tell if that will work. I’m behind them. For details on why, stay tuned for next week’s analysis of loyalty.

This blog is my sole opinion. It may be based on reason and fact; or it may be purely my emotional preference but it is mine alone. I only claim to be perfect most of the time. You are entitled to disagree, and I invite you to do so - somewhere else.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Clarity Vs. Agreement: The Goal Of This Blog

Readers of this blog have probably noticed that I’ve titled my first substantive posts in “vs.” format. I did that for a reason – it goes along with the intent of this blog.I prefer “clarity” over “agreement.” I’m an analytical guy and in my mind I seek clarity. Logic follows clarity; but you have to be clear before you can be logical. People have plenty to disagree with. That’s fine. In fact I enjoy a good spirited debate and in my profession it is actually my duty to protect peoples’ basic rights to freedom of speech and to have their own opinions.

Here on this blog my opinion is the only one that counts. It is not a democracy. It’s a benign dictatorship. After several years in retirement from message boards and forums, I returned to find that nothing had changed. There is still plenty of blather and rhetoric on both sides, although I think one side tips the scale of lunacy.

I have decided that I will occasionally engage in the debate on the boards; but when I’ve done so in the past I have not wanted to dominate the forums with long-winded rants. It’s not worth the hassle of all the BS it starts and I don’t want to put the moderators in the position of wishing certain discussions never got started.

Here I have my own little place to attain clarity through writing, and then offer some analysis based on the conclusions. I plan to not get involved in taking sides between the two organizations. My first two posts did analyze certain aspects and beliefs of both camps, and there will probably be more of that to come. But it should be fairly “down the middle” and leave the reader to make his own conclusion.

That being said, this is a pro-Cyclones blog. I am not in the camp that hates them, opposes them, or wishes failure upon them. In fact I support them and feel a loyalty to them (future blog topic). I have similar feelings towards the Ducks/Railraiders/Robinson organization. But for the time being the Cyclones are the hockey team in Cincinnati and this is a Cyclones blog; so don’t be surprised when it leans in favor of them.

If or when the Railraiders return, I’m sure there will be plenty of qualified people who could put up a blog in their favor.

Enjoy this if you want. I hope you do. Hate it if you must. I accept that. Tune away if you can’t handle it.

*Disclaimer*This blog is my sole opinion. It may be based on reason and fact; or it may be purely my emotional preference but it is mine alone. I only claim to be perfect most of the time. You are entitled to disagree, and I invite you to do so - somewhere else.

Congratulations Hurricanes

I wanted Edmonton, of course. When you get to game 7 nothing else matters. It's like a single-game championship. Carolina played like champions and won the most prized trophy in professional sports.

I am happy for all the players with ties to Cincinnati. They did us proud.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Let's Go Oilers!

Game 7 of a Stanley Cup finals has only happened 13 times since the 7-game format began in 1930-something. My Oilers are playing in the 14th game 7, so any local topic this week is seriously trumped by the game. I have a mild post planned but I'm postponing it until Tuesday or Wednesday after The Cup has been awarded. So, why do I like the Oilers so much - especially when there are so many former Cyclones playing for the 'Canes?

It all starts with the WHA Stingers - when I learned that I loved hockey. Actually in those days I hated the Oilers because they usually killed the Stingers. I still have a game program with Melrose and Messier as Stingers and Gretzky as an Oiler. It is probably my most treasured piece of memorabilia. When the WHA folded, I was crushed. I was too young to really even realize what the NHL was. I saw it more of a merger than an absorption. Ahh, the ignorance of youth.

So after that happened, I paid close attention to the old WHA teams in the NHL - Hartford/New England Whalers (Carolina), the Winnipeg Jets (Phoenix), the Quebec Nordiques (Colorado) and of course the Edmonton Oilers - the only team remaining in their original city. There is lots of nostalgia for me here. I love the fact that Edmonton is still in their original city.

And there is the nostalgia of actually seeing the Oilers fairly regularly when I was a kid. Man, those are good memories. And of course it helped that Gretzky truly became "The Great One" in the NHL; and he did it with truly a team around him. They were great players and a great overall unit. I love that.

And finally, I've maintained my loyalty to the Oilers because they have continued to play wide-open, run and gun hockey all through the advent, use, and misuse of the dreaded trap. Yeah, they have occasionally used it but mostly they have truly played old tyme hockey. The suffered some losses but they maintained the principle of hockey the way it was (in my humble opinion) meant to be played.

So here they are with the new rules finally returning hockey to that original style, and having overcome adversity all these years, and especially this season. They acquired Roly and had to fight tooth and nail to secure an 8th seed in the playoffs. They played Detroit, with the best record on the league, and knocked them off the mountain. They lost Roly in Game 1 of the finals, but have still found the way to come back from 3 games to 1 deficite.

That is hockey character. I love it.

I am thrilled that two WHA teams are in the finals. That is terrific and I wish they would bring out the AVCO World Cup tomorrow night as a show of respect. If Carolina were playing any other time, I would be all over the Hurricane Bandwagon - both because of their WHA roots and their ties to Cincinnati - not to mention that I also like their style and hockey character. But they are not playing any other team; they are playing the Edmonton Oilers.

I think the Oilers deserve the cup. Carolina has now had two games where they could have had the most prized trophy in all of sports and they played like it was a game 1 or 2. They brought back Cole and only got a minor spark out it. Edmonton, facing elimination, played with heart and soul and has beaten all odds to force a game 7.

Come Monday night at about 11:00 PM (maybe later if there is OT) the cup will be awarded and I'll be happy with the whole playoff run. If the Oilers win, I will be absolutely, intoxicatingly thrilled. They are "my" team, they've come this far, they've defied all conventional wisdom, and they deserve the cup. The city of Edmonton and the fans deserve the cup. Canada deserves the cup.

But no matter who does win - we hockey fans are all winners this season!

This blog is my sole opinion. It may be based on reason and fact; or it may be purely my emotional preference but it is mine alone. I only claim to be perfect most of the time. You are entitled to disagree, and I invite you to do so - somewhere else.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Blog Plans and Pattern

I want to thank everyone who’s been reading my modest little blog. I did this on a whim but since it seems to be somewhat popular, I’m going to try my hand at blogging and see if I can keep my readership. It’s kinda fun.

I have several ideas in mind for future topics, but after that I may run dry and fade away. I hate to fail, so I plan to release my more serious, analytical posts weekly – probably on Sunday night or Monday morning. The ideas I have should carry me out another 3-5 weeks and hopefully I’ll think of more things by the end of that run.

In order to keep the content flowing, I also plan to post a “fluff piece” each Thursday or Friday, similar to last week’s Zamboni post. You may find that I’m infatuated with the Zamboni. I confess; I am. You will probably learn a lot of useless trivia about the machine as time goes on.

Stay tuned for next week’s installment: “Clarity vs. Agreement”

This blog is my sole opinion. It may be based on reason and fact; or it may be purely my emotional preference but it is mine alone. I only claim to be perfect most of the time. You are entitled to disagree, and I invite you to do so - somewhere else.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Dollars vs. Sense: The Truth About Ticket Prices

I get sick and tired of every anti-Cyclones rant ending with some jab at ticket prices. We all know the line, it goes something like “The Cyclones have failed 3 times and will soon fail for the fourth, they can’t do anything right, and only a fool would pay $20 to see the lower-level ECHL.’

That’s a load of crap and everybody knows it.

It’s convenient for the detractors to say now that the Railraiders website is down and their ticket prices aren’t published. Well, as it happens I documented the prices. Stand by for the truth.

Let’s get one formality out of the way first. Yes, I understand that the ECHL is not the same level as the AHL and I respect everyone’s choice to vote with their dollars on any product, service, or team. But I draw the line at using lies to take potshots at what they perceive as the enemy.
And now for some truth:

The first big lie is that it will cost $22.50 to see the Cyclones play. Wrong. That price is for the first two rows behind the boards around the arena. These rows don’t even exist at the Gardens, so there is no comparative reference. I think the Cyclones should not offer seats at this price, but I guess their thinking is that they can charge a premium to anyone who will pay for premium seating. Maybe businesses will buy some of those seats to impress clients or something. I don’t know.

Oh yeah, and nobody remembers the premium seating that was planned in the upper bowl at the Gardens, eh?

Next and most interesting, the end zone season ticket seats (where “Section 60” and “Hecklers Grove” are/were located) are CHEAPER for the Cyclones than the RR’s.
This applies both to season ticket pricing ($10 vs. $11.25) and standard pricing ($12 vs. $15). The Cyclones end zone seats are 11% cheaper for season tickets and 20% cheaper at full price.

The Railraiders were offering a very generous discount to season ticket holders; I admire that.

This is what makes lower bowl seating between the goal lines interesting. Because of the deeper discount for season tickets, the Railraiders did indeed offer cheaper seats for better hockey – if you bought season tickets. The Railraider season ticket price was $13.50 while the Cyclones is $15.

Less money, better level of hockey indeed; but this does not hold true for the regular ticket cost. The Cyclones full price ticket is $17 while the Railraiders was set to be $18.
Basically, this cancels out the end zone savings. I call it an even wash.

Now, a buyer can certainly decide that the percentage of savings for the Cyclones is not commensurate with the drop in quality of play. Based on that, the buyer may decide to sit at home instead of going to the hockey game. Buyer’s choice.

Others may decide that they discount is worthy, especially if they are in the camp that likes the USBA’s accessibility, padded seats, location, etc. Buyer’s choice.

What’s important is that it is not accurate to repeat the mantra that the ECHL Cyclones are “more expensive” than the AHL RR’s.

This blog is my sole opinion. It may be based on reason and fact; or it may be purely my emotional preference but it is mine alone. I only claim to be perfect most of the time. You are entitled to disagree, and I invite you to do so - somewhere else.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Useless Fact #1

Did you know, the cutting blade of the Zamboni is 77 inches wide? It's been that same width going back into the mid-1960s model HD-B resurfacer. Olympia brand resurfacers have an 82 inch blade.

*Disclaimer*This blog is my sole opinion. It may be based on reason and fact; or it may be purely my emotional preference but it is mine alone. I only claim to be perfect most of the time. You are entitled to disagree, and I invite you to do so - somewhere else.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Venue vs. Venue

Ahhh, the age-old debate on which venue is better for hockey in Cincinnati. To answer this I will admittedly be a fence rider. You can call me a mugwump if you are old enough to have been taught what a mugwump is. The answer is simply both. And neither. Really, it is a 50/50 split, IMHO. Both have a set of pros and cons. Let’s explore them.

I’ll go by seniority and begin with the Cincinnati Gardens. It is a good size for hockey in our fair city. It’s big enough to hold a good, raucous crowd but not so big that a smaller crowd is swallowed by empty seats. It’s a very traditional “hockey barn” that may not be perfect, but it’s charm is in its imperfection. From a skater’s view, the ice there is awesome. The main arena has two chiller systems. One is old and uses more juice but it’s extremely strong. They can crank that sucker up for games to maintain good ice under the inside heat load of 10k screaming fans.

From a financial standpoint, it stands to reason that the building has a better chance of being financially viable with much less overhead, relatively speaking. For me personally, the Cyclones comeback of the early ‘90s at the Gardens permanently embedded many good memories of the Cincinnati Gardens. Some people like the sight lines better. The steeper bowl makes even higher-up seats feel closer to the ice. Parking is also close, and cheaper.

I learned to love hockey at the Cincinnati Riverfront Coliseum. I was 7 or 8 when my mom and dad got divorced. My single mother was looking for things to do with me when she met Skip Korb, a local sports writer, through some professional contacts. He generously shared his comp. tickets with us – right down on the glass on the half boards where the Stingers defended in the first and third periods. I saw a lot of Mike Liut; and was close to the left wing side where Paul Stewart would be dropping his gloves from the opening face-off with his gloves hitting the ice only a millisecond after the puck. I heard that Skip passed away a few years ago, if anybody has any information on that I would appreciate it.

A paragraph wasted on nostalgia. Oh well, it’s my blog and I’ll babble if I want to.

The Coliseum was built as a hockey venue for the major league WHA Cincinnati Stingers. The Coliseum has newer amenities than the Gardens by a couple of decades. It feels more modern, and current to me. I like the new scoreboard, the padded seats, and the big league feel. It is an attractive building with good sight lines and nice padded seats. Some people don’t like the sight lines. I do.

For the people who like to be close to the action, they have 2-3 rows of seating on the glass that do not even exist at the Gardens. The wrap-around corners mean you don’t have to wrench your neck from anywhere in the building. My seats are in the end zone, below the glass and under the dreaded netting. For parking you have options. You can pay a bit more for the convenience and security of the garage; or you can go cheap, as I do, and park the public landing. I pack heat, so I don’t really worry about thugs.

For all the good I see in both places, I have to acknowledge the downsides. I’ll go in reverse order this time and start with the Coliseum. It can be a sterile place with an industrial feel about it. With its larger capacity, the crowd can really raise the roof (opening night for Cyclones, IHL All Star game) but it takes a big crowd to get that. Otherwise, “swallowed by empty seats” does come to mind. A smaller crowd has a much smaller impact. Maybe they should put curtains up to completely eliminate the upper bowl. When the crowd is big and rockin’ the house, the plaza level gets uncomfortably congested. The improvements of the late ‘90s help but it still gets tight in there. Parking is either more expensive, or less convenient. You can park free on the public landing or on a city street, but you have to walk further and may not be comfortable with that. The changing setup to accommodate other programs makes it harder to keep the best quality of ice.

The wrap on the Gardens is a little different. In real estate, you see homes marketed as “quaint,” or “charming,” and in an “established neighborhood.” That translates from realtor-speak to: a run-down dump in the ghetto.

The building has fewer restrooms and they can get quite congested. Once in a while, a fella’s “gotta go” and I don’t like to have to fight for a seat. The arena seats are hard an uncomfortable. In the corners you have to crane your neck down-ice to see and the end zones were ruined by the netting. Since they don’t have lower bowl seating the end zone, the only seats I like at the Gardens now are between the blue lines, and that is a compromise since I prefer the end zone.

I’m not really sure about the long-term viability of either place. I don’t have enough information to really form an opinion but I can make some observations. The Gardens, being older, simply has a shorter amount of time left. It is becoming obsolete and eventually upgrades just won’t be a viable option. Having local family ownership, though, means that they may be more motivated to keep it viable and competitive. Their overhead is lower, opening up their margin of options.

The city would probably love to see the Coliseum torn down in lieu of other development. Being owned by a large corporation, I could see them deciding to bail out on the place if the money is right. It may lack the direction and vision of local family ownership. However, the corporate ownership has a bigger financial kitty to play with. They won’t allow themselves to lose too much money on any single endeavor; but they can take some losses if their overall balance sheet is positive and if the losing places serve their interests in other ways as a “value added” such as the ability to bring in big name acts, etc. that enhance their overall business.

Bottom Line: I’ll go watch hockey in either building and be damn glad to do so.

Did you really read all of this? Seriously? Man, get a life!

Stay tuned for my next installment: The Truth About Ticket Prices

This blog is my sole opinion. It may be based on reason and fact; or it may be purely my emotional preference but it is mine alone. I only claim to be perfect most of the time. You are entitled to disagree, and I invite you to do so - somewhere else.

Monday, June 05, 2006

I Have No Inside Track

Except to say that I am now the sole occupant of the address at cyclonesinsider.blogspot.com

I may post some random thoughts here - or I may just be a squatter. I promise to be stable, if nothing else.