Mr. Jason Jennette

 

            Let me take a few moments to try to answer some of your questions.  It appears that you are trying to develop a program to schedule hockey.  The problem you should be running into is that scheduling, especially hockey and other “minor league” sports, doesn’t allow you to always have black and white situations.  There is a lot of gray in the parameters.

 

            The major difference between the minors and the majors is your revenue stream.  In the majors your major sources of revenue are sponsorships, media (TV and radio), tickets and merchandise in that order.  Tickets amount for approximately 15-20% of revenues.  In the minors the revenue streams are tickets, sponsors and merchandise with tickets contributing 65-70%.  This makes scheduling (maximizing Friday and Saturday dates) extremely important.

 

            Let me list, in order, what I see as scheduling priorities:

 

1.       Maximize weekend dates (Saturday first and then Friday).

2.       Minimize travel costs.

3.       Promote rivalries.

4.       Don’t wear out the team (minimize 3 games in 3 nights, 4 games in 5 nights, etc.).

5.       Avoid 3 home games in 3 nights and minimize 3 home games in a week.

6.       Try to avoid double-headers with the same team.  Don’t allow fans to choose between games.

7.       Spread the playing dates between teams across the entire season.  Avoid playing the same team multiple times in a row.

8.       Allow teams to request “special” playing dates.  (i.e. New Year’s eve, Christmas day, etc.)

 

Keep the following in mind when you schedule – every team looks at every other team’s schedule to see if it better than their own.  The ideal schedule has each team playing an equal number of Friday and Saturday dates (last year the balance number was 24).  Also, try to share Saturdays equally.

 

If your schedule requires traveling between divisions schedule those road trips first.  Try to find a time when you need Eastern teams in the West to maximize home dates.  Look for those times when, in a 12 team league, four teams in the West have available dates, but only two teams in the East show availability.  Try to minimize the number of inter-division trips unless the team is a swing team like Memphis.

 

If a team has only a minimal number of weekends available try and schedule them first.  If your average number of weekends available is 24 and Wichita only has 22 they should get all 22. 

 

Also, try as best you can to balance weekends by month.  A good schedule will average 4 – 6 weekend dates per month. 

 

The other balance is between the first and second half of the season.  Second half dates draw better than first half so many teams would prefer to play at home after Christmas.  In October, November and December you have competition with high school and college football, the last of the good weekend weather and, in December, conflicts with parties and Christmas events.

 

A road team will always prefer to play a two game series.  From a home team perspective the fan will pick one night over the other and go to only that game.  This home team “pick” by the fan is reduced by having different opponents for Friday and Saturday nights - you can sell each game as something different.  Here is a rule of thumb to use – If a team doesn’t mind doubleheaders with the same team a home then you should allow them to play doubleheaders on the road.  This will really come into play with your “end of the road” teams such as San Antonio and Fayetteville where it is much cheaper to play several games on the same road trip.  The Wichita model of one home game on every weekend is the most expensive travel model.  Wichita has to get on a bus and go somewhere every weekend for one game.  There is no economy available to make a travel swing where they would play in Tulsa on Friday, Memphis on Saturday and Oklahoma City on Sunday.  Instead, each trip is a single trip creating additional expense and tiring your team.

 

Start your schedule as soon as you can get dates from all the buildings.  Most building want you to release unneeded dates back to the building 30 days after they give you the dates.  Also, the quicker you have a schedule done the quicker your marketing people can sell promotions and your ticket people can sell groups for specific nights.

 

I hope this helps.