Check out this ESPN article on the Phoenix Mercury offering free tickets to men for this season in the hope that at least some will become WNBA fans later on. (H/T to blackandgoldforever)
Some WNBA teams at least in the league’s infancy have offered such perks just to drive fans in the building. Former Washington Mystics owner Abe Pollin did that and as a result the team had the largest WNBA crowds for a number of years. After Ted Leonsis bought the team in 2005 and the rest of the ownership stake in Verizon Center in 2010, he has not been so keen on giving tickets away for free because doing so devalues the product. As critical of the Mystics and the Wizards as I have been at times, I fully agree with Ted that no product should just be given away for free in and of itself.
In DC, if a complimentary Mystics ticket is given to a Wizards or Capitals season ticket holder I wouldn’t feel like the product is totally devalued because the season ticket holder is already paying Monumental Sports money so the “complimentary ticket” has been paid for with that money. Season tickets aren’t just tickets. They also have events and other things that are “free of charge” but are built into the cost of those tickets. Also once something is free, even if it’s a nosebleed ticket, people may just wait for more “free tickets,” and if many folks who do take up on this offer like the product, they still may not buy tickets and just wait for the next free offer.
Going back to Phoenix, when you also add that the Mercury already has some strong veteran talent in Diana Taurasi and Penny Taylor, along with a rookie star to be named this season PLUS a young core featuring Sammy Prahalis and Krystal Thomas, I’m pretty sure that the Mercury shouldn’t even have to resort to giving away its product for free to those who have no true financial ties to the Phoenix Suns organization. People will want to see and pay to see that team, at least for that rookie star if nothing else.
Update at 10:25 PM ET, March 15: While the Man Up Challenge is intended mostly for men, women who also don’t care for the WNBA are also welcome to be in it and get a free single game ticket: Here’s a tweet from the Mercury so you know:
— Phoenix Mercury (@PhoenixMercury) March 15, 2013
Still most of my comment below stands since I wouldn’t be surprised that the team would go ahead and give women who “feel skeptical about the WNBA” a game to showcase their product.