|Wednesday, June 19
Paying fans for playoff failure Kruger's idea
ESPN.com news services
NBA teams are not in the habit of giving fans money back unless they have to for some reason, which is why a report in Tuesday's Atlanta Journal-Constitution is noteworthy.
The news? The Atlanta Hawks will pay full-season ticketholders $125 each if the club doesn't make the playoffs this season.
Yep, the gamble puts about a half-million dollars on the line for the Hawks, which the Journal-Constitution calculated based on last season's sales of about 4,000 packages.
The Hawks have not made the playoffs in three seasons.
"I expect this team to make the playoffs," Hawks president Stan Kasten told the newspaper. "When we do make the playoffs, we will reward our (full) season ticketholders by giving them the first playoff game free."
The idea was that of coach Lon Kruger, who wanted to help repair the team's public image. He convinced his key players first, then got Kasten on board.
"Lon came to (upper management) and said he wanted to do this, to change perceptions," Kasten said. "He wanted the fans to know how strongly we believed in the team."
The pressure of delivering with money on the line is part of the reason Kruger wanted to do it.
"That's what its all about," Kruger said. "We like our team. We expect to make the playoffs."