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Sabres Marketing Blitz Falls Short as Season Opens

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – A marketing blitz to sell more Buffalo Sabres season tickets has fallen short of its goal. But efforts will continue as the Sabres begin a brand new season Thursday night.

Enthusiastic Sabres fans appearing in a recent "I Love New York" ad. It's a feel good TV spot offered free of charge to the Sabres, and just in time to pump up the community as the team tries to broaden its fan base.

At the end of August the Sabres launched a major marketing campaign to sell more season tickets. But one obstacle the organization has faced is fans who fear their money would go to bankrupt Adelphia or the Rigases. The NHL promised that would not happen. The league took over operations when owner John Rigas relinquished his control in June.

Senior vice president of marketing, Christye Peterson, says it is "something they overcome" every day.

"I guess it is sort of a glass half empty or the glass half full," Peterson said. "We, as an organization, very much want this team to be positioned in a very strong way with a new ownership. So when a new owner does comes into Buffalo, they see a community that supports the team fully. And there won't be any question about it. That is why we are urging fans to get involved now, and to make the decision that we want to keep the team here."

Peterson says the marketing effort has not been as successful as they hoped, but sees some light at the end of the tunnel. The team sold more than 6,800 season tickets -- still short of the NHL average of 10,800. But Peterson says "Q" packs -- ten game ticket packages -- are selling well.

"We are at 869 of those packages with the goal of 1,200," she said. "So I think that is going along quite well."

The next round of the campaign will rely heavily on the business community to sell season tickets. Peterson says a "business backs the Sabres" committee is expected to be announced next week.