As they try to rebound from a slow start to the 2016-17 ECHL season, the Norfolk Admirals are looking into a variety of changes to reinvigorate the franchise.
At the end of 2016, the Admirals were struggling both on and off the ice. While the team’s poor performance was the subject of focus early in the year, their attendance figure was among the lowest in the ECHL.
In November, the Admirals appointed Michael Santos to the title of team president. Under Santos, particularly since the beginning of this year, there has been some momentum. The Admirals; on-ice performance has improved since the beginning and attendance has steadily risen, but the team acknowledges that believes that more will need to be done to have success in the future.
The team is planning to increase season ticket prices next year, with the packages for some ice-level ticket holders potentially going up as much as 35%. With that increase, however, Santos says the Admirals want to shake up the fan experience and the franchise’s image. A new logo, new affiliate, and improved technology could be among the changes that Santos and the Admirals introduce in the future. More from The Virginian Pilot:
Santos believes in the end, his management team can reinvigorate the local market and return Norfolk to its former heights, which included 11 straight playoff appearances and three championships during one stretch.
He noted that the team now has ticketing and merchandise kiosks in MacArthur Mall, is pursuing a new HD video board for Scope, is developing an Admirals app and is working to secure better sponsors and promotions . In addition, the organization is seeking a new NHL affiliate – “preferably on the East Coast,” Santos said – and confirmed that a new team logo is “highly likely” next season.
Santos thinks his “new culture” starts by addressing the status quo. He says Norfolk fans have had the same thing for so long, they don’t know what they’re missing in terms of game experience, sponsorship and fun.
“What this market needs and what it wants maybe don’t coincide right now,” he said. “Right now, we’ve been giving fans what they’ve expected for 30 years, but now it’s 30 years old. One of the things I need to do is to teach fans what to expect and what they need.”
Prior to this season, the Edmonton Oilers sold the Admirals to the Mango Media Group, though the affiliation between the Oilers and Admirals has remained intact for the 2016-17 campaign. The ECHL version of the Admirals arrived to Norfolk Scope in 2015, after an AHL franchise of the same name relocated to San Diego.