NHL clubs changing ticket pricing policy

I’m not so sure that I disagree or agree with this idea. Right now I “think” that I more agree with the current ticket pricing style as here in Dallas where tickets remain the same price at each and every game of the Regular season.

Well, there are a few cities that will charge more when “certain” teams come to town. That is when a supposed “better” team comes. Well, what if that team just flat out sux that night? What if a great player is injuered? What if this is the night they sit out their starting goalie? Was it worth the extra 10-20%?Canadian Press


VANCOUVER (CP) – The Vancouver Canucks have joined at least two other NHL clubs in gambling fans will pay more to watch the league’s best teams.

The Canucks, Ottawa Senators and Pittsburgh Penguins will all use variable pricing this season, charging 10 to 20 per cent extra for single-game tickets for marquee teams. It’s a practice already used in major-league baseball and American college football.

Fans may grumble they don’t receive a discount when the Atlanta Thrashers or Minnesota Wild come to town, but team officials maintain charging more for certain games helps hold the line on ticket prices.

“Rather than do an across-the-board, four-or-five per cent increase, we thought we’d get a little bit more selective and try and keep the prices frozen for as many games as we can,” Dave Cobb, Vancouver’s chief operating officer, said Monday.

“We think it’s a more effective way of getting the same amount of money because it allows us to maintain all our discount ticket programs that are in place now and also freezes prices on a majority of our games.”

Phil Legault, Ottawa’s vice-president of communications, said only seven of the Senators 41 home games will carry an extra price.

“By having premium-game pricing on a few high-demand games, that allowed us to keep the ticket prices unchanged for our other 34 games,” he said in a telephone interview.

“There is ample opportunity to take advantage of the regular prices.”

In both Vancouver and Ottawa, season-ticket holders won’t pay the premiums.

Sports economist Andrew Zimbalist said variable pricing for athletic events isn’t that much different than what airlines do with seats and hotels with rooms.

“It’s simply responding to demand,” said Zimbalist, a economics professor at Smith College in Massachusetts, who has published 12 books.

“Among those people who have the most intense desire and can afford it, it’s charging them closer to a market price. It will make it possible for the team to generate more money and maybe come out financially better.”

A Penguins spokesman said variable pricing is similar to a team scalping its own tickets.

“In the music business, we used to always say the reason we hated scalping was that we weren’t in on the action,” Tom Rooney, president of Team Lemieux LLC, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“And, to a certain extent, there’s something about that here. If we’re going to be cherry-picked, people should pay the freight.”

Canucks fans will pay extra for just six games.

Single-game tickets for Toronto’s two visits to GM Place will cost 20 per cent more than other tickets. Games against Detroit, the New York Rangers and one of the Colorado Avalanche’s three visits to Vancouver will cost 10 per cent more.

Single-game tickets to watch the Senators play Toronto and Detroit will cost 20 per cent more. Games against Montreal and Colorado will cost an additional 10 per cent.

The Penguins will charge $5 US extra for certain games against the Rangers, Detroit and Philadelphia. Other games may be added.

Last season, the Penguins set the single-game price for weekend games at $5 more than for those on week nights.

In Vancouver, the extra prices will be added onto tickets already costing between $27 and $80. In Ottawa, the prices will be applied to tickets starting at $40 and ranging up to $165.

Baseball’s Colorado Rockies, St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants all have variable pricing.

The Cardinals charged an extra $1 US for games between May 21 and Sept. 2, a move expected to generate $750,000 US in revenue.

This year the Giants started charging $1 to $5 US more for weekend games, which could result in an extra $1 million US.

Both Cobb and Legault said they have received few complaints about the increased prices.

Both teams will review the policy after the season.

“If it allows us to maintain our family discount programs and allows us to freeze the pricing on the majority of our games, we would look at doing it again,” Cobb said.

“Whether there would be more games I’m not sure.”


14 Responses to NHL clubs changing ticket pricing policy

  1. cwhockey says:

    If the increase is not substantial, it shouldn’t really become an issue. I may not like the reasons behind it, but it makes decent economic sense. Of course, it also shows the value that other organizations place on a team like mine, the Thrashers.

    Actually that article pretty much said it.

    “Fans may grumble they don’t receive a discount when the Atlanta Thrashers or Minnesota Wild come to town, …”

    That’s kind of a slap in the face to teams that have done poorly in recent years (for whatever reason that may be). But I’ve got thick skin, especially since I’ve heard it a hundred times before.

    Interesting though that this comes from a Canadian publication. A Canadian paper subtly taking shots at American expansion franchises, hmm? It could mean nothing, it could mean something. Decide that for yourself, but I just found it interesting.

  2. aaron says:

    Um…it means that they suck, basically. There really aren’t any really sh*tty Canadian teams. Plus, even of there were, there’s more likely to be say a Calgary-Vancouver rivalry than a Atlanta-Vancouver rivalry.

  3. pantherboy says:

    Like when the Panthers come to town (Toronto) I get all dressed up in my jersey and my huge flag, and support my team. People think I am crazy!!!

  4. Overtime says:

    This sure looks like the teams with the big payrolls (Detroit, New York, Colorado) are becoming real money makers for the other teams in the league. Hmmm. If we had parity in the NHL, there would be no need for this multi-tiered pricing. Your level of interest would be about the same for all teams.

  5. Kariya-09 says:

    Although i disagree with this idea(seeing as ticket prices are high enough as it is) i believe it will work. More people would rather watch a Vancouver-Detroit game, than lets say a Vancouver-Colombus game.

  6. Heinzee57 says:

    Good topic.

    As a (Bruins) season ticket holder, there are a few things that bother me about ticket pricing.

    I pay full price and I attend almost every game. (38 last season)

    When Tampa Bay comes to town on a Tuesday in February suddenly there will be a “promotion” for 3-4 thousand discounted seats. Bruins management never kicks me back 15-20 bucks.

    The biggest eye opener was last seasons (play offs) For the first time, Bruins/Fleetcenter Mgt. offered a “pay as you go” program. (In the past you paid it all up front.) Sounds great right??

    However, they also for the first time sent an itemized bill along, which I had not received in the past. What shocked me was each seats price jumped based on the round the team reached.

    For example, a $75 loge seat in round I, was a $99 seat in round II.

    If they made it to the cup finals, I would have had to pay $150 a seat.

    Thanks again Mr. Jacobs.


  7. cecilturtle says:

    Parity has nothing to do with fan interest. Population of the teams geographic area is the reason for the amount of fan interest in a team. IE: New York City has so many people living is such a consentrated area and many many more commute into the city for work. If the Rangers had the smallest payroll in hockey they would still be sold out every night. Parity… Get a clue small market boy! My goodness, you need a tissue already to dry your tears because your team can’t afford 30 year old free agent players. The season has not even started yet. If your team can’t afford to play in the NHL then move or get out. Regardless, Stop crying and try to enjoy the season without being jealous of the other NHL teams in the league. Enough already!

    Cecil Turtle

  8. Sunnyg says:

    I have to admit that I think it makes smart business sense for the clubs to do this. The reality is that the demand for certain high profile teams or teams with a good rivalry is much higher than it is for other teams. So why not try to charge more to attend those games?

    The reality is that a lot of those big games are attended by corporate guys who won’t be as sensitive to the increased price. And you never know, if the differential starts to become significant, it may indirectly spark some more interest in attending the lower priced games. This could add exposure to teams that could use some extra viewership and publicity. Teams like Toronto or the NYR don’t need any additional exposure but other teams like Florida or Atlanta sure could use it.

  9. cwhockey says:

    Something I forgot to include, mostly because I forgot about the article or where to find it. I’m not sure about the exact quote but the substance of it is accurate,

    “…when a below-average American NHL team has lower than normal attendance, Canadiens cry that it is a bad market. When a below-average Canadien team has lower than normal attendance, Canadiens call it practical consumerism.”

    It is and always will be Canada’s sport. And from my perspective I think it’s pure shite that there aren’t more Canadian teams (adds a bit more intensity in my opinion). But for better or worse, a “bad market” team like Atlanta is staying put. And I agree, they do suck. Most expansion teams do (so do quite a few non-expansion teams these days). But I had to wait 20 years before getting a hometown NHL team, a team that I could call my own. That’s quite a long time without for a big fan like me (with only about 4/5 years of minor league hockey to fill the void, which it really didn’t). I’m not Canadian so I don’t know what it feels like to have so few teams, but more importantly I’m a huge fan who has gone without for so long. So I do know what it feels like to be without a team. An awful horrible feeling. I just hope that you guys up north don’t have to suffer for as long as I did.

  10. cwhockey says:

    My small market team, Atlanta, can actually afford a big name free agent. It’s just that at this young stage of the franchise, it’s not practical to sign such a high priced player when you can sign two or three good players for the same amount. Or if the team can chose not to sign any high or medium priced talent. They can take a few years to develop the players in their system and have the theme of development be the driving force in the organization (which is infinitely better in the long run). If the developmental process is lacking in the organization, they have to do what the Rangers (and a few others) did: use money to get the players they need.

    Fan interest is generated by the game itself. I have actual proff of that. I went to college in central Georgia where hockey is, predictably, not popular. But I kept telling people I knew to attend a game. NHL, minors, whatever they could get to. At least a half dozen people gave in and went to a game, and have been fans ever since. Geographic areas can play a part, but it is certainly not the main reason for fan interest.

    As for the jealousy remark, I’m just gonna say that you missed the mark on that one by a country mile. Resentment, scorn maybe. But jealous, I think we are all mature enough here to where jealousy left the equation long ago.

  11. Modano_Fan says:

    I’m not really sure what to think of this at all. Now my first reaction is that the owners are just trying to get some more money out of the fans to make up for the huge contracts they’re giving out these days. But,it does in a way seem to be better for the fans in a way.

    Face it,if the owners wanted to,they could raise the prices for EVERY game,and no matter how much we didnt like it,SOMEONE would still buy the tickets. This way they’re going to make the money they want to make,but they give the fans that don’t want to pay more a chance to see games to. The only problem is which teams are high price ticket teams. If the Rangers have a terrible year,why should you pay more to see them? Because they’re the Rangers?

    Personally I don’t think it’s as big of a scam as it could have been.

    Now as for the Bruins fan that got the season tickets….I can see your point that you feel that if you pay for a year’s tickets and then they discount certain games,you feel you should get your money back. But i think you have to realize that you actually pay less for the tickets than a person would if they just went to every game and payed as they went. As far as I understand it’s cheaper to have season tickets than if you were to go to every home game by just paying the night of the game. So in a way your getting a discount anyway.

    And I don’t have a problem with playoff tickets being more. But I think season ticket holders should get their own seats for what they pay for a normal game. They should give season ticket holders some reward.

  12. BighairyAl says:

    I think that this is a terrible idea. Are these teams also offering lower priced tickets when teams noone wants to see like bluejackets or the panthers?

  13. bones says:

    Bad idea. If you want to get people out to see your games, charge less for tickets, more for parking and concessions. You might take a hit in your pocket book for a season, but then you have a following and you could charge a little more each year.

  14. cecilturtle says:

    I agree with you almost 100%. I wish there were more people like you spreding the word on how great a game hockey is. Unfortunately there is not. I really don’t understand then what you ment by “If there was more parity?” Please explain what you ment and how should the NHL achieve more Pariy. If you are going to talk about a salery cap, well then I ment every word I wrote!

    Cecil Turtle

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