The Albany Devils came to where college students are to find ways of getting them to where they’re not: Albany Devils games.
Representatives from the American Hockey League team came to Schenectady County Community College on Monday not to lecture, but to listen to advice from marketing students on how to draw more college-age fans.
Professor Matthew Farron said the class exercise resonated with students because it had real-world implications. The 21-year AHL season ticket holder, first for the Albany River Rats and then the Devils, said the team benefits from the targeted research as much as his class does from conducting it.
“From an academic standpoint it’s fantastic,” Farron said. “This is not just teaching from a textbook.”
Cheaper ticket prices, special college nights and enhanced on- and off-ice promotions were among the concepts presented by students. (The Devils already offer a special college package for Friday night home games.) But the most important takeaway came not in the particulars, but in a broad call for the Devils to work on branding.
“I didn’t even know the Albany Devils existed,” said Cemi Gonzalez, a 22-year-old sophomore from the Bronx.
The Devils will review the presentation and return with input at a later date, team officials said.
The Devils have actually been in classrooms before, working with college students throughout the region on ways to enhance turnout for the chronically attendance-deprived franchise. This season the Devils are averaging 3,158 fans per game — third-worst in the league and 41 percent below the AHL average. Attendance is down roughly 700 fans per game compared with last season.
“It’s an avenue for us to tap into the student mind,” said Kevin Zalaznik, senior director of public relations for the Albany Devils. “We don’t have all the answers. We are open to market research.”