It started in the wake of a recent Front Street Friday autograph session with James Wisniewski, in which Blue Jackets uber-fan AlisonL shared this tweet:
With that, the Blue Jackets had a new hashtag – a searchable buzzword in the Twitter era – #DefendNWA, or “Defend Nationwide Arena.” (Sorry, Northwest Airlines – you’ll have to fend for yourselves.) These hashtags offer social media afficionados a means to identify themselves with a larger cause, not to mention provide a tool for b-school types to brand a marketing campaign.
And the marketing campaign was on. Thanks to the Blue Jackets, we’ve now got articles, internet “avatar” photos (like Alison’s above) and even videos:
#DefendNWA, you see, is about moving tickets. That’s important when you consider that Nationwide Arena apparently holds 18,500 for hockey and had an average attendance of 14,460 last season. And then there were the really awkward moments when opposing team fans snatched up the relatively inexpensive tickets in Columbus to watch their team play the Jackets. It wasn’t last season, but the memory of the Pittsburgh Penguins fan takeover (and I don’t use that term lightly) of Nationwide Arena in December 2010 is etched in the minds of many a Blue Jackets fan – and apparently the Blue Jackets themselves, as this tweet from five days ago suggests:
Oh boy…time to brick up the doors! Seriously, this is an impressive challenge to Blue Jackets fans. Do you want your games to be taken over? If you don’t, what are you going to do about it? Yeah, it’s time to Defend Nationwide Arena.
Fans should appreciate that the Blue Jackets are taking some impressive measures to restrict against opposition takeovers, going as far as to advertise that they will restrict sales to at least some games to ticket buyers whose credit card billing addresses are more than 100 miles away from Columbus. That’s a gutsy move when you consider that the team had over 19,000 in attendance for that December 2010 game and is averaging ticket sales that are well below that number. The team is doing its part to Defend Nationwide Arena, perhaps to its own financial detriment. Now, what about you? Are you, Blue Jackets fan, going to do your part?
Ticket sales are open to the general public today (Wednesday) at noon. I signed up for my ticket package early, so I’ve already joined the battle. If you haven’t purchased your tickets yet, consider doing so. As my compadres and I will explain over the weeks ahead, 2012-13 has the potential to be a lot of fun for Columbus Blue Jackets fans…and I’d hate for you to have regrets once things get interesting.
(Oh, it’s probably worth noting that the Penguins visit Columbus on November 2nd. #DefendNWA.)