Pelicans – Sport 1,365 spectators, Jukurit – JYP 1,103.
The regular season opening rounds played at the end of last week brought to the surface the worst fears of the SM League. Auditorium restrictions caused by the coronavirus reduced the capacities of the halls to about half of normal. Many localities fell far short of even the cut maxima.
– Yes, this is extremely worrying, Jukuri’s chairman and CEO Jukka Toivakka grant.
– It is already worrying that capacity is being limited. Even more worrying is if the audience doesn’t dare come into the hall.
The capacity of Mikkeli’s Ikioma Arena is limited to about 2,300 spectators. The number of spectators at the opening match fell far short of that, even though in addition to the loose tickets sold, some 700 season tickets sold were fully included – that is, regardless of whether everyone was present.
– The corona situation is a big reason, and in the Mikkeli area there were some infection chains that also left Jukuri. There was a ban on more than 50 people in the city for a few weeks, Toivakka is considering the reasons for the loss of the audience.
– The general mood is cautious, which has been reflected everywhere in the number of customers, he notes, referring to shopping malls and restaurants, for example.
– There is probably a psychology like this here, even though it was assured by the health authorities that there is no acceleration phase going on in Mikkeli and the matter is about the disease.
What can be done?
– We tell in every media and media what we have done to ensure people’s safety, Toivakka answers.
– The best marketing tool is certainly not to trigger infection chains from matches. If a few rounds can be played in the League so that spectators feel the stands are safe, it will certainly make a big difference, he hopes.
One trick to patching up the economy could be raising prices, but that would be a so-called double-barreled thing.
– We simplified ticket prices. We only have single price seats and single price stands. It is not the most expensive price level last season. The prices of some places went up and some went down, Toivakka informs.
Will the Jukuri’s box last?
– I’m not going to speculate on it. There are many things that affect your checkout. Cost savings have been made and certain things have been postponed.
In the spring, Jukurit applied for savings through co-operation negotiations. It has budgeted the season according to 3,100 spectators.
– It is clear that we need to reach an audience of more than 2,000 spectators pretty quickly, Toivakka takes care.
New calculation method
The Lahti Pelicans have already held two co-operation negotiations and have been the only league club to lay off their players.
Acting Pelicans. managing director Lauri Pöyhönen however, is not as concerned about the situation as Toivakka.
– The audience is not so dramatic, Pöyhönen says and reveals that the club has started to announce its audience in a new way.
– We are now announcing to the physically present audience – not how much we have sold season tickets and loose tickets.
– Visually, we had an OK group inside. The crowd looked the same as in the last regular season game before the corona. Of course, the carrying capacity would require more audiences to visit, but from our point of view, the start was quite good.
Pelicans has sold about 1,300 season tickets.
– About half of the season ticket holders were present, Pöyhönen estimates.
– Yes, the money comes from season cards. No show However, the locations cause them to be locked. If the ticket partner allows, then we are supposed to get the seats left by the season ticket holders for sale. That is, those who know they are not going to come could give the digital platform their own place to sell.
Through ticket prices, Pelicans are also not looking for a solution.
– We haven’t made terrible changes. Seat prices were raised by a few euros, and we do not sell tickets to the stands at all.
The capacity of Lahti Isku Areena is limited to 2,766 spectators. Pöyhönen reminds that security is now a priority.
– The infrastructure is built for 5,500. It is easy to maintain safety distances and enjoy hockey in safe conditions.
– I have a very positive feeling. Masks are used by almost everyone and we offer them to customers. The hall has handicrafts and good space. Yes, the audience will find us, the product is interesting, Pöyhönen believes.
The Pelicans have budgeted for the season according to 3,800 spectators – according to the old calculation method.
– We should reach about a thousand more people, so we could reach about 2,500 people. Then we would start to be in a situation where the carrying capacity of a scarce truck lasts, Pöyhönen says.
A thousand more viewers, so the box office would last?
– That is one aspect of this.
Pöyhönen does not sign that otherwise the end of the season would be threatened.
– No. We have very active sales and a good partner network that sees us as a good platform. We just have to come up with new ways to do things and do them even harder.
The operating result of Lahden Pelicans Oy and Pelicans Ravintolat Oy for the financial year ended in the spring was a total loss of EUR 539,000.
– Things aren’t quite open. We have a lot to do and structural fixes, and we have already started certain measures, Pöyhönen says.
As a result of the co-determination negotiations, a total of seven employees were laid off from the companies.
– We have a slightly smaller group, but a certain kind of agility has been made to do it again.
Are adjustment measures still possible?
– Everything in the world is possible. They are not nice things, but if the need demands, then of course we will use all means. At the moment, it seems we don’t need it yet. Of course, things become clearer as we move forward, Pöyhönen says.
– If the number of spectators is at this level, it is clear that we will also have to look critically at personnel costs, Toivakka says.
In league clubs, of course, the biggest staff cost is the salaries of the players. Jukurit HC Oy made a loss of EUR 147,000 in the last financial year.
Jukka Toivakka, will it be possible to complete the season financially in Mikkeli?
– Yes, we still believe it.
The SM league continues on Tuesday with the match HIFK – Pelicans.