It’s that time of year again – season ticket sales for the NHL are in full swing, and single game tickets are starting to go on sale. This time of year is always full of angst for me as a fan of the Canadiens. Season tickets are sold out, and there is a waiting list that is several years long. Five and ten games packs were previously out of my price range (I’ve got my fingers crossed this year!). Every year, I submit a group sales request on behalf of whatever group I happen to be able to represent, in the hopes of getting to see at least one game. All of this angst occurs just because individual game tickets are nearly impossible to get.
After seeing the flurry of complaints from prospective ticket buyers after Blackhawks tickets went on sale, I started to wonder what ticket prices look like around the league. I took to the interwebs in search of said ticket prices across the league and came up with some very interesting information. I was able to get season ticket prices for 27 of the 30 teams, mostly directly from the team websites. I decided to look at two price categories: rink-side seats and the upper deck/nosebleeds (Table 1: note that US teams’ prices are in USD, Canadian teams in CDN). A few things really surprised me. First, the range in ticket prices is ENORMOUS. You can get upper deck season tickets in Tampa Bay for as little as $239 (that is for 44 games, or about $5.43 per game!) but those same tickets to see the New York Rangers will set you back $1,628, or roughly 7 times the cost in Tampa. If you happen to be on a champagne and caviar budget, rather than a mac and cheese budget, you can sit right at the glass for a mere $3,403 in Buffalo. If you live in Chicago, those seats will set you back $15,048.
What can you buy for $15,048? Well, for starters, you could buy a brand new Kia Forte. A whole car! (Not that anyone really wants a Kia, except my parents who each drive one). You could almost pay the entire tuition bill for my PhD from McGill. You could maybe pay for one semester of tuition at a reputable US institution of higher learning. You could buy four rink-side season tickets in Buffalo, or two rink-side season tickets in San Jose. In both cases, you’d still have money left over to actually have an adult beverage or two at every game. You could buy 15,000 boxes of Kraft Dinner. Or 1,500 pairs of shoes. And that is just the cost of ONE ticket. I don’t imagine you want to go to the game alone so if you’re bringing a friend or lover or whatever, it’s going to set you back a cool $30,096.
Out of curiosity, I then compared these season ticket prices to the odds of winning the Stanley Cup that Matt posted earlier. I converted the odds to percentages and graphed that versus the ticket prices. This gives some really amusing results (Table 1, and Figure 1 and 2). In the 0-10% range, there is absolutely no correlation between the odds of winning and the price (in particular the Phoenix Coyotes (2.8%) selling rink-side seats at $11,220 and the NYR (2.4%) with their previously mentioned $1628 nosebleed seats). If you look at the 6 teams that have the best odds in isolation (not including the Pens, whose prices I couldn’t get), the ticket prices are more or less correlated with their chance of winning the Cup.
But sadly, for many of us, season tickets are not a reality. We’re limited to individual game tickets. So I also took a look at last years’ Fan Cost Index information from Team Marketing Research, and compared the average ticket price to the odds of winning the Cup (Table 1 and Figure 3, the line represents the average ticket price across the league). Again, in the 0-10% range, ticket prices are all over the map, ranging from the ridiculous $110 to see the Maple Leafs lose play, to the $35-40 range a lot of teams fall into. But if we look at those teams over 10%, the average ticket prices are roughly the same. On top of that, 18 of the 30 teams actually fall below the league average for ticket prices, and four more are just barely over the line. Obviously, the ludicrous prices that people pay to see the Maple Leafs play drive up the average. (The irony of that statement is that while the Canadiens have the second highest ticket prices, in reality many of us end up buying our tickets secondhand at even more outrageously high prices than those Leafs tickets…)
Now I will leave you all ponder the beautiful visual aids I’ve put together, while I start planning my move to Dallas…
Table 1. NHL Teams, Odds of Winning the Stanley Cup & Ticket Prices
|Season ticket price
(10-11 unless specified)
|Team||Odds*||Glass||Nosebleeds||Average Ticket Price (09-10)|
|Chicago Blackhawks **||20.0%||$15,048.00||$792.00||$46.80|
|Detroit Red Wings||12.5%||$5,625.00||$1,080.00||$46.60|
|San Jose Sharks||11.1%||$6,880.00||$817.00||$43.07|
|Los Angeles Kings||7.7%||$4,364.50||$946.00||$47.20|
|New Jersey Devils||6.3%||$8,140.00||$1,320.00||$48.05|
|Boston Bruins ***||5.3%||$9,116.00||$1,247.00||$54.94|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||3.8%||$9,999.00||$599.00||$35.76|
|St Louis Blues||2.8%||$9,000.00||$720.00||$37.90|
|New York Rangers||2.4%||$10,560.00||$1,628.00||$58.57|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||2.0%||na||na||$114.10|
|New York Islanders||1.4%||$4,620.00||$1,050.00||$51.46|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||1.3%||$6,600.00||$792.00||$47.66|
* 1/(odds+1) x100 – so for the Blackhawks with an odds of 4/1 this becomes 1/(4+1) x 100, or 20%
** 2008-2009 prices + 20% (prices were not raised for 09-10)
*** 2009-2010 prices
Rinkside Season Tickets
Nosebleed Season Tickets
Average Ticket Prices