Jets make pitch to region: Budget ticket plan aims to bring families aboard

NEW DEAL: Defender Tarek Elrich models the Newcastle Jets' new playing strip yesterday. - Picture by Ryan Osland
NEW DEAL: Defender Tarek Elrich models the Newcastle Jets' new playing strip yesterday. - Picture by Ryan Osland

THE Newcastle Jets are officially the cheapest ticket in town.

Mining magnate Nathan Tinkler made clear his intention to return the Jets to the community when he took over ownership of the club three weeks ago.

Yesterday he delivered on that promise when the Jets announced a host of ticketing initiatives and a formal partnership with the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI).

As part of a new advertising slogan "Be a part of it", the Jets will host a community day, where 10,000 fans will be admitted free for the clash against Melbourne Heart at EnergyAustralia Stadium on Sunday, October 31.

In what is sure to further boost crowd numbers, the club issued a new pricing structure aimed at families and children, making Jets home games the most affordable of any national competition in Australia.

Under the new pricing structure, children younger than 15 will be given a season pass, a family pass for the final 11 home games with reserved grandstand seating will cost $100 and general admission tickets will cost $10 - down from $19.

All offers are available only by registering online at the Newcastle Jets website.

"We have said it from day one, it costs families too much to attend football regularly," Jets executive chairman Ken Edwards said.

"We can now translate that into a program that provides anyone 15 or under free entry to any game we run.

"We are providing opportunities for families to buy a season pass. For $10 a game we can take a family and put them in a reserved grandstand seat. That is unheard of in Australian sport."

Jets director of membership and corporate sales Richard Fisk, who has been chief executive of the Sydney Roosters and Cronulla Sharks NRL clubs, believes the initiatives are a first for Australian top-level sport.

"Without question this is the most exciting period I have had in 30 years of sports marketing," Fisk said.

"No other club in Australia has ever done this.

"That was the whole point, to engage the community. To do that we want them to sample the sport."

Fisk emphasised that fans who had bought season tickets would not be disadvantaged and an announcement concerning them would be made next week.

"We do very much recognise that these people were supporting the club when it was going through its tough times and they certainly won't be forgotten," he said.

Under the lease arrangement at EnergyAustralia Stadium, the Jets do not receive a cut of the pourage, catering or sponsorship. The only source of revenue is ticket sales.

But Edwards, who was chief executive of Stadium Australia for 10 years, was adamant the new structure could be sustained.

"Our strategy is not to make money from ticketing, it is to build those relationships [with the community] and the corporate sector will come along with us," he said.

The partnership with HMRI is new ground for the Jets.

The Jets will have the institute's logo on the front of their playing strip, beginning with tonight's clash against Brisbane Roar, and will donate $5000 for every goal they score at home and $2500 for an away goal.

Had the deal been in place last season, the Jets would have handed over $110,000.

"While we are finalising our sponsors, what better way to assist a fellow Hunter institution than by putting them on our strip," Edwards said.

"Cutting-edge organisations like the HMRI are the ones who will eventually find cures to some of the world's most crippling and devastating diseases.

"We want to establish direct connection and genuine relationships with the entire community and this is another example of this core principle in practice."

Yesterday's announcements continued a whirlwind three weeks in which the club has set up a new administration office, extended the contract of coach Branko Culina until March 2015 and unveiled a $2.5 million blueprint for the football department, which includes eight full-time positions.