Hull City season ticket price frozen to stop falling KC crowds
HULL City intend to freeze season ticket prices for the 2013-14 campaign in an attempt to arrest falling attendances at the KC Stadium, managing director Nick Thompson has revealed.
Despite Steve Bruce's men riding high in the Championship with 17 games remaining, the Tigers' average gate has dropped from 18,790 during 2011-12 to 16,668 in the current campaign.
A 12 per cent rise on the cost of adult season tickets implemented last summer is known to have hit the number of renewals, but Thompson has reassured supporters they will be given the chance of committing to 2013-14 at the same cost.
A phased pricing structure has been provisionally drawn up by City officials and any passes purchased before the end of March will guarantee any potential increases that may come with Premier League football are avoided.
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"The way I see season tickets going for the next year is that there will be a number of phases," Thompson told the Mail.
"In the first phase, which will have people making a decision when we don't know which league we're going to be in, our intention is to keep prices frozen.
"If you renew in the first phase or buy a new ticket, the price will still be the same as 2012-13. The second phase will probably launch once we know where we will be.
"Then we'll have a decision to make on whether we'll freeze the prices or add a premium for watching Premier League football.
"The final phase will be mid-July I would think, but the best value will obviously be at the renewal stage right at the start."
Although this season has witnessed City's lowest league crowd for eight years – the 14,756 against Millwall in September – attendances have encouragingly begun to climb in recent weeks.
The last six home games have all drawn crowds in excess of 16,000, while the 23,452 in attendance for the 2-0 win over Leeds United marked the biggest gate since February 2011.
Three home games inside eight days next week will test supporters' finances and Thompson admits the club must provide reasons for lost fans to return.
"The crowds have been disappointing but then we probably disappointed the crowds with the late sending out of season tickets," he added.
"From a marketing point of view, I don't think we've worked hard enough to give people a compelling reason to come and watch us.
"What we're trying to do is to put that right. We're starting to address that from a marketing view."
Since attracting an average crowd of 24,390 in their second Premier League campaign, a return to the Championship has seen a gradual decline in numbers at the KC.
That has not deterred owner Assem Allam from voicing his potential plans to leave City's current home, though, and a fall-out with Hull City Council, the KC's owners, has left a question mark over the Tigers' long-term plans.
The need for a move or expansion would hinge on City's attempts to reach, and stay, in the Premier League, but Thompson admits the preference would be to stay put.
"The KC Stadium is Hull City's home," said Thompson. "It would make more sense for all concerned to come to a sensible working arrangement at the KC Stadium. It's a landmark for the city.
"What we need to do first is to find a way of working with the executive officers in the Council and make a success of this for all the city.
"We've got to try and make it work for the benefit of all parties in the long run.
"If we get to the Premier League and we're looking at a third season like a Norwich or a West Brom filling the stadium, then I might be a bit more frenetic about it, but right now my only focus is on helping the club win promotion."