BOSTON – A few weeks ago over dinner, I brought up the subject of Winter Classic tickets with the parental unit, as we’ve shared a Red Sox season ticket account since before I was born.
“They’re going to play a hockey game, outdoors on New Year’s Day?” my mother asked. “It’s going to be freezing! Who’s going to want to sit through that?”
Close to a half-million entered the league’s lottery for tickets to last season’s Winter Classic at Wrigley Field. Enough demand to pay hundreds of dollars a ticket on the secondary market and give the league the marketing boost and cache the All Star Game used to have.
It took NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman about five seconds to address the allocation of tickets to this season’s event, one he didn’t know much about at the time. What we did learn at a recent press conference promoting the event was that Massachusetts Youth Hockey would be getting a few hundred of the coveted ducats to distribute and that Boston Bruins Full Season Ticket Holders would be guaranteed access.
As for everyone else? We’ll just have to wait and see.
When I asked Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs if Red Sox Season Ticket Holders would receive priority access, he didn’t sound too sure they would. Though the Bruins are co-hosting the event with Fenway Sports Group and at the nearly century-old ballpark, so I wouldn’t bet against it. Cubs Season Ticket Holders took part in their own drawing last year.
The Flyers were quick to put a banner up on their website encouraging fans to buy Season Tickets with the hopes of landing a seat, but on their message boards, team representatives were easing the hype and notifying fans that their allotment was extremely limited.
So how does one take a 39,000 seat facility and divvy up the hottest seats in the sport accordingly?
Hypothetically speaking, the Red Sox have capped Season Ticket sales at 21,000 full season equivalents. As to where the Bruins will be after Wednesday’s announcement, I’m going to guess somewhere around 12,000-13,000 in an arena which seats 17,565.
Then throw in the NHL’s Corporate Family of sponsors and well, you get the picture.
That number for Bruins Season Ticket representatives and your seat to the 2010 Winter Classic is 617-624-BEAR. Otherwise, you’ll probably find yourself on the outside looking in.
Here’s a sampling of what other NHL clubs are offering this summer season to entice buyers in today’s lackluster economy.
What’s Good: 15 game pick-em packs starting at $240, postseason priority – two games per round included.
The Catch: One of those games is a preseason game and the games have been tiered so fans can’t select the 15 biggest games of the season.
What’s Good: Lower Bowl Season Tickets starting at $999, (Under 25 bucks for 41 regular season games)
The Catch: What if you’re a Season Ticket Holder who is paying 70 bucks a game to sit right below those $23 seats? I can’t imagine they’d be too thrilled to hear about this idea. Did we mention you’d have to watch the Thrashers for 41 regular season games as well?
What’s Good: As mentioned, no-hassle, guaranteed access to the biggest NHL event of the season.
The Catch: With the best record in the Eastern Conference last season, the Jacobs family was quick to cash on the new demand. Remember those ‘All You Can Eat’ seats that debuted at $39 last season? You’ll pay $61 for that same seat this season. Ouch!
What’s Good: In a five-tired single game ticket pricing system, the Red Wings lone visit on November 13th has been designated as a ‘silver game’. Toronto’s two visits on December 18th and January 8th, have been designated as ‘platinum games.’
The Catch: The team’s mini-plans, which include discounted prices do not include guaranteed playoff availability, but instead the right to purchase them before the public.
What’s Good: After a season which included hosting the Winter Classic and reaching the Western Conference Final, the Hawks have a Season Ticket waiting list for the first time in years. Not only that, they’ve sold out their 21 and nine game mini plans as well.
The Catch: That waiting list costs $100 to join and will automatically be placed in Marian Hossa’s 401K and retirement benefits.
What’s Good: The Avs have launched a micro site promoting their 2009-10 ticketing campaign. (www.avalancheseats.com) Season ticket holders will also be honored with a brick within the new Pepsi Center Plaza Hall of Fame
The Catch: After spending a decade as a perennial Stanley Cup favorite since departing Quebec, the Avs have hit rock-bottom and will now move forward without their most marketable superstar after Joe Sakic retired earlier this summer.
Columbus Blue Jackets
What’s Good: The September 28th preseason game is the seventh game in the club’s six-game Premier Pack. Seventh game as in complementary, not stuck in there and counted as one of the six games as most teams love to do.
The Catch: From the ‘read the fine print’ department: Each new season ticket purchased must also include the purchase of a Personal Seat License.
What’s Good: The Stars are one of a few clubs with a Season Ticket Matching Service for those interested in splitting a package, but don’t have the social life to do it internally. It’s like online dating for Season Ticket Holders. Fans can select how many games they’d be interested in buying and then are matched up by days of the week, opponents, and time of the game.
The Catch: How do you divvy up postseason games? What happens when you want to divorce your Season Ticket Partner?
Detroit Red Wings
What’s Good: Free tickets for both days of the GLI Tournament and the CCHA Championship for full season ticket plans.
The Catch: The Wings have been so good over the last two decades that fans have become complacent, which ultimately deters demand. Case in point? Face value seats could have been had for the first two Stanley Cup Final games at the Joe, but once Game 7 rolled around, you couldn’t get in the building for less than $800. So, unless there’s a Game 7 for Lord Stanley’s Cup, why would someone buy a Season Ticket when StubHub can get you in the building for the same price, without the commitment.
What’s Good: Season tickets starting as little as $7, Half Season plans starting at $8, 13 game plans starting at $9.
The Catch: The Panthers brought in super-agent Drew Rosenhaus to negotiate lower prices on behalf of the fan. The club generated a PR buzz, but once people found out it was nothing more than a publicity stunt, the empty gesture was just that. A publicity stunt.
Los Angeles Kings
What’s Good: Kings Season Ticket Holders have the opportunity to buy advanced tickets to select events at STAPLES Center, Home Depot Center and LA Live.
The Catch: The Kings have the same Online Season Ticket Matchup service as the Stars, without the concern of divvying up playoff seats. And while season ticket holders get a discount at the arena’s TEAM LA stores, they’re probably buying Laker gear, not Kings gear.
What’s Good: The Wild have individual web pages for four Season Ticket representatives including biographical information, photos and online support. Key numbers, parking forms and birthday information is also included.
The Catch: It’s a great idea. And the next thing you know, Season Ticket Holders will start following their representatives on Twitter and Facebook. It may be time to hide the party pictures, or take more of them just in case.
What’s Good: You know that video of Taylor Swift, Kellie Pickler and Carrie Underwood we’ve all drooled about. It happened in Nashville. The Preds also have a large percentage of lower bowl season tickets priced at under $100 a game.
The Catch: It’s wonderful to have your players dating country starlets, as long as they remain faithful. Jordin Tootoo was accused of cheating on Pickler, something she has been rather vocal with post-breakup. You can bet that Underwood and Swift, who admits to writing songs about the guys she dates, have heard all of the dirty details.
What’s Good: Ottawa is the only Canadian club with any sort of season ticket availability, starting at $26 a game. The Sens also the same online ticket sharing system that the Kings and Stars have.
The Catch: While the product on the ice has suffered, the tabloid fodder made up for it, with Mike Fischer (Carrie Underwood) and Mike Comrie (Hillary Duff) making the Sens relevant outside hockey circles in 2009. The thing is, Comrie is a free agent and won’t be back in Ottawa unless he’s willing to take a major league pay cut to do so.
What’s Good: The team will remain in the Phoenix area for the foreseeable future
The Catch: The Coyotes offer tremendous perks for full-time Premium Seating ticket holders including a road trip with the club and a private event with Head Coach Wayne Gretzky. Then again, what’s an exciting road trip for Coyotes fans? They already live in paradise, not that it wouldn’t be hysterical to take fans to Edmonton in the middle of January.
St. Louis Blues
What’s Good: The club’s most expensive seat in the Upper Bowl (Row A, blue-line to blue-line is only $44. That same seat is $87 at TD Garden in Boston.
The Catch: The Blues open the season in Sweden against the Red Wings in back-to-back games. So not only does the club lose a natural home game against an arch-rival and a high profile opponent, they’ve got to face all of those Swedes in their homeland. How fair is that?
What’s Good: The best player on the planet night after night. Caps Season Ticket Holders are listed in both the game program and the club’s yearbook. Premium Season Ticket Holders have parking included in the price of their package.
The Catch: Rumor has it that the Capitals will play the Rangers in the 2011 Winter Classic at Yankee Stadium, but as the visiting team, the Caps would be on the short end of the ticketing stick despite having the most marketable presence at the event.