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Money-Back Guarantee Hits Pro Sports as NBA’s Suns Promise Fun

Dec. 1 (Bloomberg) -- The National Basketball Association’s Phoenix Suns are so confident fans will enjoy their game-night experience that they’re offering a money-back guarantee.

The 7-10 team yesterday announced a “Satisfaction Guaranteed Night” promotion, the first of its kind in the 30-team NBA. The offer is valid for the team’s Dec. 6 game against the Dallas Mavericks.

“It’s a function of getting people to sample the product,” Suns President Jason Rowley said in a telephone interview. “It’s a great way to get people engaged.”

The Suns through eight home games are averaging 15,064 fans, seventh fewest in the league. It would be the team’s worst average attendance since 1992, when the franchise moved into the US Airways Center. The arena seats more than 18,000.

According to promotion rules, fans who aren’t satisfied can redeem their ticket stub for a rebate equal to the purchase price of the ticket. There is a limit of eight tickets per name, household or address, the team said.

The Suns, who traded fan favorite Steve Nash to the Los Angeles Lakers during the offseason, haven’t made the playoffs the past two years.

“For fans used to seeing Steve Nash, they weren’t sure what to expect,” Rowley said. “It’s really just a function of getting people out here.”

Hospitality Training

The team won’t ask any questions of those who request a refund, said Rowley, adding that every Suns employee, even back-of-house workers that don’t engage the public, underwent hospitality training during the offseason.

Winning, Rowley said, is only one part of the game-night experience. He wants friendly parking attendants and smiling ushers as well as warm hot dogs and cold beer and soda.

“We can control atmosphere. The fan, with the downturn in the economy, is being more value minded,” he said. “They’re looking for how you’re treated, food selection and in-game entertainment.”

Rowley said he expects 3-4 percent of those who buy tickets have already decided to get the refund.

“At least they’re coming out to see the product,” he said. “It might be that they’re surprised and come back.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Scott Soshnick in New York at ssoshnick@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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