A little while ago, I wrote about the cost of tickets for NHL games and how it compares to the likelihood of winning the Stanley Cup. I have no problem admitting that I’m a geek and that I like to analyse data but I was a little surprised to see how enthusiastic so many of you were to see the numbers in black and white. My last post raised a lot of other really interesting questions about ticket prices from our readers, so I decided to follow it up with some more analysis.
One thing that people were very curious about was how ticket prices relate to the number of tickets being sold. I was lucky enough to find some data on the average percent capacity each team achieved for 2008-09 on the NHL Snipers blog, which I’ve borrowed for my analysis. If you compare the average percent capacity to the average ticket price, there is actually a weak positive correlation, meaning that the more likely a barn is to sell out, the more expensive the tickets will be (Figure 1). Keeping in mind that this is a weak correlation, sell outs contribute to the price but are by far not the only determinant. I also took it a step further and converted the percent capacity to actual number of butts in the seats based on the capacity of each teams’ arena, since all arenas are not created equal. Not surprisingly, there is still a weak positive correlation between the number of actual tickets sold and the ticket price (Figure 2), and it’s actually a tiny bit stronger than the correlation to percent capacity. So again, not surprisingly, if your team sells a lot of tickets, you’re going to pay a little bit more on average for your ticket.
The next thing I looked at was the median income level for the metropolitan area of each team. Getting this information was really difficult, and the most recent census data available for the US was for 2000, so I had to roll with it. There is more recent data available for Canada, but to keep things relatively equal, I used the 2000 data for Canada as well. To make things even more interesting, I had to consider the exchange rate and convert the median incomes in Canada to US dollars, which I did using the average Bank of Canada exchange rate for the year 2000 (1 USD = 0.6734 CAD). The first thing of note is that compared to all the other metropolitan areas that house an NHL team, San Jose is off the charts for income. Intriguingly, there is actually a weak NEGATIVE correlation between median income and the cost of tickets (Figure 3), meaning that in areas that make more money, tickets are actually on average a little bit LESS expensive (*this holds even if you remove San Jose or Toronto from the data). This raises a lot of sociological questions about the demographics of hockey fans that I’m not in any sort of a position to answer. I would be interested to know more about the relationship of income and hockey fandom though, so if anyone has any thoughts, drop us a line.
Finally, I took a look at the population of the greater metropolitan area that houses each team and compared those figures to ticket prices. I again used the US Census and Canada census data, this time for 2006. Things got interesting here, and I had to deconstruct the data a little bit to get at an answer. If you look at all 30 teams straight across and compare the average ticket prices to the population, not surprisingly, there is a positive correlation between the population base and ticket prices (Figure 4). This makes sense: if you have more people to sell tickets to, then you charge more for the tickets. However, just looking at the graph you can see that there are a lot of teams that fall below the 1 million mark for population. So I separated out the data, and looked at places where the population is less than one million and places where the population is more than one million in isolation. When you look at cities with populations less than 1 million (Figure 5), there is absolutely no correlation between ticket prices and population. If you look at areas with populations greater than 1 million, there is still a positive correlation (Figure 6) but it isn’t as strong as when you include all of the teams. This appears to mean that the magic number is 1 million when you talk about how the population base influences ticket prices.
So folks, there you have it. Things that increase your ticket prices include how many people live in your city (if your city has more than 1 million people) and how likely the team is to sell out the arena. Surprisingly, how much money people make doesn’t seem to have an impact, but I have to put a bit of a caveat on that one since the latest data on income is 10 years old and things may have changed in the meantime. If you have any other questions you’re interested in related to ticket prices, feel free to ask away and I’ll see if there’s a way to answer. In the meantime, here are the raw data tables and my beautiful visual aids for you to enjoy.
Table 1. Ticket Prices and Capacity
|Team||Average Ticket Price (09-10) *||% capacity
|actual capacity||actual attendance (08-09)|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||$47.66||85.6%||15,543||13304.808|
|Detroit Red Wings||$46.60||98.9%||19,865||19646.485|
|Los Angeles Kings||$47.20||91.0%||16,488||15004.08|
|New Jersey Devils||$48.05||89.5%||15,790||14132.05|
|New York Islanders||$51.46||84.8%||13,773||11679.504|
|New York Rangers||$58.57||99.8%||18,172||18135.656|
|San Jose Sharks||$43.07||99.9%||17,488||17470.512|
|St Louis Blues||$37.90||96.8%||17,488||16928.384|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||$35.76||83.4%||16,497||13758.498|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||$114.10||102.6%||19,312||19814.112|
Table 2. Ticket Prices and Demographics
|Team||Average Ticket Price (09-10) *||Median income **||Population **|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||$47.66||$37,897||733,203|
|Detroit Red Wings||$46.60||$29,526||871,121|
|Los Angeles Kings||$47.20||$36,687||3,849,378|
|New Jersey Devils||$48.05||$26,913||281,402|
|New York Islanders||$51.46||$38,293||8,214,426|
|New York Rangers||$58.57||$38,293||8,214,426|
|San Jose Sharks||$43.07||$70,243||929,936|
|St Louis Blues||$37.90||$27,156||347,181|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||$35.76||$34,415||332,888|
|Toronto Maple Leafs***||$114.10||$30,221||5,113,149|
*Fan Cost Index
** US and Canadian census data, income data is from 2000 and population data is from 2006
*** Canadian currency values were converted to USD using the average Bank of Canada exchange rate for 2000 (1 USD = 0.6734 CAD)