David Simms: Sheffield Steelers cash in on cheap midweek Arena tickets experiment
Tuesday's game at the Arena might go down as one of the most important in the clubs history. The result, a 6-1 win over Dundee was a good one, but that isn't to what I am referring.
The 13-3 aggregate in the Challenge Cup quarter final was important, but nothing to do with what I am thinking.
Steelers took a huge risk – they offered a £5 ticket for a mid week game with the overall outcome already pretty much decided after last weeks 7-2 road win.
Just over 4,000 turned out for the game against the Stars on a cold Tuesday night just before Christmas and this is why this game may go down in the history books because this could be the game that sees the end of competitive hockey for us at iceSheffield.
In the past a midweek game against Dundee would have headed over the road to iceSheffield and we would have played in front of between 1000 and 1400 die hard fans. Now granted they would have paid full price and yes ice Sheffield is a cheaper venue to rent than the Arena.
However on Tuesday the return to the Steelers was a little better than it would have been at iceSheffield, plus we get to show off the scoreboard and our full show. We sell more merchandise and our suplemtary income from the likes of the 50-50 draw and shirt raffle more than compensate.
The Arena is also our home. In the weeks ahead we may be looking at perhaps four, five or six of these £5 midweek games every season along with our traditional weekend games at the Arena.
If we can jointly comprise a schedule of 20 plus Saturdays, half a dozen Sundays and half a dozen midweek £5 games we could have found a solution of keeping fans happy.
ice Sheffield has saved us over the last 10 years, and without it Steelers wouldn’t be here as the crazy schedules of the past with limited weekend dates would have forced us to play huge loss- making midweek games at the Arena.
We owe a lot to that building and the people who work there but sometimes a change is needed to grow. The experiment at the start of the year with the two £5 exhibition games were a huge success and gave Tony Smith the confidence to take the next step and try the same concept for last Tuesday’s game.
The big question is, do the £5 midweek games become part of the Steelers future.
Steelers are the first team through to the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup and will face the winners of the Cardiff-Guildford series. Steelers started their second leg already knowing the tie was as good as over. They put in a strong performance though despite still looking nervous and shy in front of goal.
Once the first one went in the confidence grew and the flood gates opened.
Mark Matheson at centre is a strange one but a move that might pay dividends. The Steelers are looking for a first line centre but there aren’t any on the transfer market. We have seen how well Matheson controls and holds onto the puck. He has also played centre before, he did so in his college career.
Can he create some chemistry with Roy and Fretter? If he can we can look forward to a better2018 then the end of 2017 is showing.
I think a few people expected this article this week to be an attack on booing fans. It was going to be but on Tuesday the good and the true answered my plea by going out of their way to get behind the team and cheer them on.
* The Nottingham match on Boxing Day is a 9,300 ticket sell-out.