Mar 092009
 

Right after the trade deadline, Bruce Constantineau (Vancouver Sun) wrote a piece about a raise in Canucks ticket prices for next season.

The Vancouver Canucks will hike season ticket prices by an average of two per cent next season — joining a small minority of NHL teams so far who have announced price increases during a global recession.

Canucks’ chief operating officer Victor de Bonis said prices on about 45 per cent of season tickets will be frozen, while increases on the remaining 55 per cent will range up to 3.3 per cent.

He said ticket-price increases in recent years have ranged from seven to nine per cent and believes the 2009/2010 price hike is the lowest since the team moved to GM Place in 1995.

Alanah (Canucks and Beyond) responded this morning.

Despite the fact the team is currently doing well, we could argue all day about the quality of the “product.” (i.e. I especially wonder how he would’ve argued his point in late January, when everyone in sight was writing his team off for the year?) Regardless, it’s not the most important point. That would be the fact that a team who already charges more than nearly every other team in the NHL, feels they can bump the bill up just a wee bit more to get more money out of fans’ pockets.

While ‘supply and demand’ might suggest they’re simply following good economic reasoning, in the real world they seem willfully ignorant of new realities.

One of the Canucks strongest assets is their sold-out season ticket base and particularly their waiting list of consumers waiting to buy those tickets. But how solid is that waiting list? The economy has changed drastically in the last few months, and for someone who put their name on that list two years ago, current circumstances are likely to be much different today. And are the Canucks so sure that their season ticket base can economically afford to keep investing in tickets at the current cost, much less with added expense?

I already received my renewal package for the 2009/2010 season, and from what I can see so far, I’m one of the “lucky” ones whose season ticket prices are frozen. They did ask for a deposit by next week – normally, this happens in June or July – so I have to pony up for next season’s tickets earlier than usual.

In order to soften this blow, the Canucks also changed their payment plan for playoff tickets. In the past, we had to pay for the first 1st and 2nd playoff rounds in March (even before they clinch a playoff spot) and for all 4 home games (home ice advantage or not). We then had to pay for the 3rd and 4th playoff rounds as soon they got past the 1st round. This season, we don’t have to pay for playoff tickets until the Canucks officially clinch a playoff spot or until they officially move on to the next round of playoffs.

You win some, you lose some.

But back to the price increases for next season.

Mr. de Bonis is wrong in saying that this is the lowest price hike since the team moved to GM Place; in fact, the team froze season ticket prices for 2 seasons after the 2004/2005 lockout. If they go through with this, it will now be the 3rd year since then that prices will increase. A couple of other things have also happened since.

1) In the upper bowl specifically, the upper end seats (Upper Bowl 5) and the upper corner seats (Upper Bowl 4) were combined and ticket buyers now pay the higher Upper Bowl 4 price even for Upper Bowl 5 seats.

2) The team has moved the boundaries between price levels. I sit in Upper Bowl 2-B seats, but just last season (or maybe 2 seasons ago), the same seats were considered Upper Bowl 3. (Upper Bowl 3 seats are cheaper.)

That said, I’ve renewed my seats anyway – and so have most season ticket holders – and therein lies the reason for the latest price hike.

As Alanah already said, it’s simple supply and demand. There are only 18,630 tickets available per game and 17,000 of those are taken up by season ticket and ice pak holders; there are another 4,000 paying $50/season to stay on the waiting list. That leaves 1,630 tickets to the rest of the 2.3 million Metro Vancouver residents (plus the 200,000-plus in the Fraser Valley). The prices may be high, but there are enough people to buy them. In fact, a quick check on Craigslist and Ebay tells me that people are willing to pay over and beyond what the Canucks actually charge.

Even after a year-long lockout and missing the playoffs in 2 of the last 3 years.

Whether or not this is good business practice remains to be seen. From a revenue standpoint, the Canucks stand to make more by charging 3% more per ticket and selling 1,000 tickets less – in other words, they may sell less tickets but the price increase more than makes up for it. From the fans’ point of view, it sucks but until people stop buying tickets – cue the Phoenix, Florida and Tampa Bay references – we’re simply at the market’s mercy. It doesn’t make it right or wrong. It just sucks.

  • Ramzi

    it’s all about supply and demand! i think the key strategy is to take advantage of sell outs and gain as much revenue as possible, which i think is the right thing to do. If you as a fan don’t feel it’s right you don’t have to renew or buy tickets! and since the economic situation will be hitting hard probably sometime next year… it’s clever to get as much as possible… it’s all about economic baby!

  • Ramzi

    it’s all about supply and demand! i think the key strategy is to take advantage of sell outs and gain as much revenue as possible, which i think is the right thing to do. If you as a fan don’t feel it’s right you don’t have to renew or buy tickets! and since the economic situation will be hitting hard probably sometime next year… it’s clever to get as much as possible… it’s all about economic baby!

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