A brief explanation as to why NHL clubs raise their ticket prices.
I recently read a brief blurb in The Boston Globe about the Bruins raising season ticket prices by an average of $5.25, and the subsequent reaction of one season ticket holder toward the increase.
This particular fan will see the price of his balcony seats jump from $32 apiece to $52.50 for next season, and demanded a serious explanation from the club as to why his ticket prices jumped by 50 percent.
I took the opportunity to do so, pointing out the Bruins were charging what the market could bear (no pun intended).
I’m not about to launch into any diatribe against the Bruins increasing ticket prices, or for that matter, the Los Angeles Kings recent announcement they were also raising price on season tickets (some by as much as 26 percent) or any other NHL team for raising prices.
Undoubtedly, there are hockey fans who feel they’re being gouged by their favorite teams, complaining “regular fans” are being priced out of the market. Some fans will tie those prices to the team’s payroll for its current roster, and perhaps blame “greedy players” for the high cost of watching your favorite team live.
What must be remembered is the NHL is a business, and everyone involved in it are there to make money.
The reason the Bruins and Kings are raising their ticket prices isn’t because of some super-secret agenda to fleece fans. Rather, they’re merely charging what they believe their fans in their respective markets can afford to pay.
In other words, they raise their prices, because they know there’s a market for those tickets, and plenty of folks willing to plunk down the dollars to buy them.
If a Bruins fan isn’t willing to pay the increased price to renew their season tickets, somebody else will happily so. The club knows this. They’re not worried about alienating you. They just want to sell season tickets and make as much money as possible. If they don’t get it from one Bruins fan, they know there are thousands of others in the Boston metropolitan area and throughout Massachusetts currently willing to do so.
The Bruins are the defending Stanley Cup champions. They’ve played to sold out houses for the past two seasons, and barring a lengthy work stoppage, will do so again next season, regardless of whether or not they successfully defend the Cup this spring.
For this season, the Bruins fan cost index (the average cost for a family of four to attend an NHL game, including the price of tickets, concessions and parking) is $352.66, 11th highest in the league. Next season, they’ll probably crack the top ten.
They’re a hot attraction in Boston, and as long as there’s a demand for Bruins tickets, the team can charge what it wants, based on what they believe their market can afford to pay.
Like the Bruins, the Kings have also been playing before packed houses the past two seasons. Their fan cost index ($304.66) put them 17th overall in the league.
Kings fans might grumble over the nerve of ownership raising prices for what they consider a mediocre product on the ice this season, but judging by this season’s attendance figures, it’s not as though a large number of them have stopped going to the games, let alone refusing to renew their season tickets.
For those who refuse to renew, the Kings probably won’t encounter any difficulty finding other fans willing to purchase those tickets. After all, they’re charging what they believe their market can afford to pay.
Yes, fans can rail about the quality of the product they’re paying to see, but the Bruins, Kings and the other NHL teams aren’t forcing their fans to buy their tickets. No one put a gun to their heads. The fans paid those prices willingly, because they wanted to see those games so badly, they felt it was worth the price.
As long as fans keep paying those prices – whether the team’s a champion, a middle of the pack club, or a bottom feeder – they’re inevitably going to increase again. And again.
If you want the ticket prices to remain steady, or to drop, stop going to the games. Of course, that’s a risky proposition for fans in some cities, but if you’re in an entrenched market like Boston and Los Angeles, there’s no fear of those teams threatening to leave town for greener pastures if the fans don’t come out and support them.
Eventually, the teams will get the message, and keep prices fixed for a period of time, or drop them as an enticement to convince fans to return, as they did in the first season following the last lockout, when it was feared fans might stay away in protest over missing an entire season to a labor battle between owners and players.
Of course, once enough fans come back, the prices start going up again, but that’s the way it goes when you pay to watch your favorite NHL team.
Ultimately, the fans are responsible for the ticket prices.