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Will cheaper beer before games win back Ottawa Senators fans? One part of a larger, new charm offensive
OTTAWA -- Jim Little likes a challenge. And he’s facing a big one.
The newly minted president of the Ottawa Senators left a comfortable retirement in Palm Springs, California to work in Kanata in the dead of winter, trying to win back an angry, skeptical Ottawa Senators fan base.
“When you lose the customer it’s always the business’s fault no matter what the category is,” he said. “We’ve lost the customer a bit and my pledge is that we’re going to win you back.”
Little says one of the first steps is to increase the sense of fun at Canadian Tire Centre.
“For the balance of the year we are going to make it fun to be in the building,” he said. “We’re going to have cheaper beer before the game, we’re going to have party nights on Thursdays, have more fan deck experiences”.
After a few weeks in the job Little clearly sees the obvious challenges: embarrassingly low attendance, a weak season ticket base (among the lowest in the NHL), and an owner who has been absent from the city, and a lightning rod when he is here.
On Eugene Melnyk: “He’s an impatient businessman who wants success and his product is a hockey team. He’s asked me to become the face of the team, become the face of the organization downtown.”
Little believes the young, fast hockey team is ahead of schedule on the rebuild. His job is to get the Senator’s business operation to catch up.
Despite all the challenges, Little says he believes this organization can win a Stanley Cup in five years.
Now he has to make fans believe it too.
“We’ve got to reconnect with the city. I’m a brand a business guy. We have to reconnect with the customer. We got to have a product people want to come and see so we’ve got to make the in game stuff more fun. “