GENE SERBA HAS been a Flyers season-ticketholder since 1978. "Remember the year that they were losing all those games?" Serba asked. He then laughed. "Me and a guy in front of me, we were figuring out what we spent. Just doing an estimate. My first tickets were $6.50, and now they're $58. I think that tells something about our economy, I think, more than anything else."

Make that kind of an investment and you wouldn't mind having a voice in how you're entertained. That's why Serba was one of a couple dozen ticketholders who jumped at the invitation this fall to join a Flyers' fan advisory panel. It's not new in this city - the Soul, for instance, formed one last season, and the Sixers said yesterday they are planning to unveil one by next month - but it's one more opportunity the Flyers have given their fans to voice their opinions. That's on top of the ticketholder (or town) meetings they sometimes hold.

Serba says he remembers the "town meeting" from March of that miserable 2006-07 season. "I just thought they were brutally honest," he said, "which was refreshing."

This panel features a cross section of fans: young and old, male and female, original ticketholders and new members of the "family." Dr. David Seltzer, of Mount Laurel, N.J., said the first meeting took place in September at "one of these marketing research places. They sat us around a table, asked us [things like] what can be improved, what would we like to see changed, what our best memories were growing up with the Flyers. So we got to talk a little bit and answer questions. It was nice. And you know what, I learned a lot, too, listening to other people, their ideas."

They expect to meet five or six times during the season, including next Saturday before the game vs. the Penguins. Serba said he just wants to represent the guy who's sitting in the stands. "One of the things I wanted to make sure is, 'Hey, here's my opinion, and I'm not always saying that my opinion is going to be what the majority says, but I wanted to make sure that some loud voices didn't necessarily portray [how most of the fans feel].' " *

- Paul Vigna

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