By ALAN SNEL
The first two pre-season games for the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena have given Coach Gerard Gallant a chance to evaluate player combinations and performances of players on the roster bubble.
And for Todd Pollock, team vice president of ticketing and suites, the pre-season matches this week gave him the valuable opportunity to iron out seat location wrinkles that can only be dealt with by staging live hockey games in the Golden Knights’ home building.
“It’s everybody getting acclimated,” said Pollock, who studied sports marketing at Baylor and hails from New England. “We’re getting familiar with the arena. It was the first learning curve.”
In an arena that offers seating capacity for 17,300 hockey fans, Pollock learned from the home games this past Tuesday and Thursday that a tiny percentage of seats — about 12 to 24 — did not offer good enough views of the action.
“One or two dozen people were re-located,” Pollack said.
Pollack is one of the few Golden Knights employees who has followed the journey with owner Golden Knights Bill Foley from season ticket campaign in 2015 to NHL approval of the Las Vegas franchise to launch of the league’s 31st team.
Pollock’s bracing for the Golden Knights’ inaugural home game on Oct. 10 when a capacity crowd is expected to pack T-Mobile Arena. The team has already announced that it will sell standing-room-only tickets for select popular games such as the home opener and home games against high-interest opponents such as the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Black Hawks.
Pollock, a former Los Angeles Kings and San Francisco 49ers ticket sales manager, said he’s still determining exactly how many SRO tickets will be sold.
“We’re mindful of the fire codes,” he said.
There’s room along the upper bowl drink rails in some areas where standing-room-room fans can watch the game.
Pollock also oversees sales of last-minute ticket purchases by hockey fans who can try and snap up any available $35 tickets for seats that are left over from visiting teams at T-Mobile Arena. Those are hit or miss depending on how many seats are taken by the visiting team and its contacts.
Pollock will be back at it Sunday, when the Golden Knights host the San Jose Sharks at T-Mobile Arena at 5 p.m. for the team’s final pre-season game. The Golden Knights inaugurate their rookie season with regular-season games against Dallas Friday and Arizona Saturday before launching the regular-season schedule against the Coyotes Oct. 10 and the Red Wings Oct. 13.
The team remembered its season ticket holders by embedding their names in the ice for the first home pre-season game Tuesday. The names were in the ice — you just couldn’t see them.
Two years ago when I interviewed Pollock when he was overseeing the ticket campaign, he predicted the Las Vegas market would embrace its first major-league team. At the time, Pollock told me, “Las Vegas is starved for a professional sports team. People love sports here, but are tired of supporting other teams and not having one of their own in this market.
“Because they have to pay special attention to other markets, they are extremely intelligent and knowledgeable about sports much more than one might expect. People that aren’t that familiar with hockey but love sports and love (Las Vegas) are really excited to have a team here.”
The fan noise at those first two Golden Knights pre-season home games proved Pollock correct.
Contact LVSportsBiz.com founder/writer Alan Snel at asnel@LVSportsBiz.com