It’s not hard to lose fan loyalty

To the editor:

I remember being a loyal fan to the Bruins during the golden years of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, the kind Ron Bourque described in his March 6-19 article, “How can you turn your customers into dedicated fans?”

The Boston Garden was packed for every game. We felt as if guys like Bucyk, Orr, Esposito, McKenzie and Cashman were family. They were great because they loved interacting with each other and loved the game, and they had a management team who saw it as more than a business.

I had season tickets, and you’d think I was king of the world. One year I sold my playoff tickets because I had to travel for a few weeks. I got enough for those tickets to buy the next entire season.

Then, as corporations will sometimes do, they lost their way. Management changed. They dropped the big salaries and raised ticket prices. They didn’t coach to win every game, just the big-ticket ones. Little by little, the fan base dropped off, until you could actually walk in off the street and buy tickets on game day – for the Canadiens!

Finally, during one televised game, the few weary fans who did show were holding signs directed at management. They proclaimed “PLEASE SELL THIS TEAM!”

Enter Jeremy Jacobs and new ownership with the desire for greatness and management savvy. Now the fan base is back and the comeback is complete – Boston has a world-class hockey team again, along with a faithful fan base.

It proves your point. Consumers of a product react positively to real or even perceived striving for excellence. Today’s management needs to understand that it takes a long time to build fan loyalty, but only a few callous or bad decisions to lose it.

Jim Ward

Scantum Press

Categories: Letters to the Editor