By Mike Harrington
Couched in a triumphant e-mail sent out by the team this morning is the fact the Buffalo Sabres have had a small drop in season ticket renewals for the 2013-14 season.
But the team still has plenty of right to thump its chest on this topic in the face of its struggles on the ice. The Sabres' rate of keeping customers or bringing a few new ones on continues to be remarkable, even with the 4 percent price hike that was clumsily unveiled on the afternoon of Fan Appreciation Night.
The glossy numbers are these:
---The Sabres announced today that 97 percent of their season subscribers have renewed their seats, which is a small drop from the 99 percent that stood pat heading into the 2013 lockout-shortened season.
---The team has increased the cap of season ticket-holders from 15,400 to 16,000, which means it will have less work to do to get to the 19,070 capacity each night in First Niagara Center. This is the third straight year the cap has been increased.
---The new 600 season seats came from members of the Blue & Gold club waiting list, which now has more than 2,500 names.
"We again wanted to continue to try and reach the demand that exists for Sabres season tickets," team president Ted Black said in a statement. "There have been thousands of very loyal and very patient fans in our Blue & Gold Club that have been waiting for years to be eligible to purchase season tickets. We wanted to reward that loyalty by continuing to transition people from that waiting list to our ever-growing base of season-ticket holders. Our fans remain among the most dedicated in the league and we continue to be appreciative of their support."
The Sabres also announced Mini-Packs will go on sale Sept. 5, allowing fans to purchase from 5-40 games at up to 10 percent off box office prices. Existing Mini-Pack holders can renew their package starting on Aug. 28. Mini-Pack holders pay no ticket service charges and have the ability to purchase playoff tickets before the public (based on availability).
The Sabres are still taking enrollments for the Blue & Gold club at Sabres.com. In addition to getting on the waiting list, club members can purchase tickets (including playoff games) before the public and get 10 percent off at The Sabres Store.