Flyers season ticketholders might have been surprised by the letter they received the past few days identifying playoff and season renewal dates.

But members of the fan advisory panel weren't.

They asked the team back in September at the panel's first meeting to get the word out earlier, and that's what took place.

The letter said that invoices for the playoffs will be mailed the week of Jan. 12, with payment for the first two rounds due by Feb. 13. The deadline to renew for the 2009-10 season is April 24; last year it was tax day. The team is asking for 5 percent of what ticketholders owe plus entry into a 7-month payment plan that will begin in mid-June.

Shawn Tilger, senior VP of business operations, explained the decision in an e-mail. "Fans said in light of the current economy that patrons would like advance notice of what we will be doing regarding invoices, prices, etc. so they can plan and budget accordingly," he wrote.

Panelist Gene Serba of Mount Laurel, N.J., said last night by phone that he and others asked the Flyers to move the deadline off April 15. He's heard some grumbling this week about the timing of the letter, a week or 2 before Christmas. "I said, 'Come on, guys, they're not asking us to pay 2 weeks before Christmas.' We had asked them to let us know [earlier], and they did."

Among the topics the group kicked around in their second meeting, held on Saturday before the Penguins game, was the appeal of afternoon vs. evening games.

Tilger said: "We were just looking at it and saying does it ever make sense to do a businesspersons special, or if on like a St. Patrick's Day would it ever make sense to do an afternoon game since it is a pseudo holiday, or try something different. We're asking questions to learn, not to say we're going to do things." *