Ranted: Sorry, you can’t afford to buy Finals tickets.

I knew playoff tickets were going to be expensive here in Vancouver, but I didn’t think that seats for games in the Stanley Cup Finals would be comparable to the men’s hockey games in the 2010 Olympics.

It came to my attention yesterday that tickets for the SC Finals at Rogers Arena are going for $924. Each. A seat.

That’s half my pay check, and no doubt it’s some people’s ENTIRE pay check!  With the cost of living in Vancouver being as high as it is, many fans can’t afford to go to any of the games, which really sucks because this would be the time to see them play; to possibly watch the Canucks make history.

Of course, Canucks tickets are already the most expensive in the NHL during the regular season, so I expected things to get pricey, but $924? Seriously?

This just goes to show how elitist hockey is becoming in the Canadian market. Montreal, Calgary and Toronto have very high pricing for games too, so this isn’t an isolated issue. It’s a problem, really, because this means that only those with a decent amount of disposable income can afford to go to hockey games.

Canucks fans notice how the lower bowl of Rogers Arena is being packed with “suits”, clients of big corporations who are season ticket holders and hand out tickets as perks. This usually makes for a lacklustre audience down below while the more rambunctious fans pack the rafters in the upper bowl, where the seats are considerably cheaper.

Corporations own a fair share of season tickets at Rogers Arena, and season ticket holders get priority for tickets to post-season games. Is it surprising then if the majority of lower bowl crowds are uninterested businessmen fiddling with their iPhones?  These people aren’t there to watch hockey. They’re there because someone gave them a free ticket to some hockey game that they should probably check out.

There have been complaints since Round 2 of the playoffs that Rogers Arena has been “too quiet” during games. I agree that some games have seemed pretty dead (most remarkably game 1 against Nashville), but apparently those in the arena say it isn’t so bad, and CBC’s audio doesn’t do justice to the noise level of the crowd.

Either way, is it really any surprise that as ticket prices go up, the crowd gets a bit tamer? I mean, think about the kind of people who can afford tickets – they’re not average fans, that’s for sure. More and more clients, celebrities and high-profile businessmen will be filling Rogers Arena because they can afford it, and I can’t see these people wearing face paint, jerseys and waving their playoff towels around.

It’s unfair, because there are a lot of fantastic, die-hard fans out there who deserve to fill Rogers Arena to the rafters and watch their favourite hockey team go for the Holy Grail of hockey. Instead hundreds of thousands of Canucks fans will be watching from home or a pub because admission’s free there, and beers definitely come cheaper there than their $8 counterparts at Rogers Arena.

There should be some kind of priority seating for die-hard fans at Rogers Arena; the rich, uninterested clients and their partners would be turned away at the door. But that’s not realistic. More and more hockey is becoming all about making money, and the only way to do that is to hike ticket prices, which means slowly but surely, fans at Rogers Arena and around Canada are being replaced by the Suits.

Why? Because the Suits can afford it, not because they really want to watch the Canucks play.

And yes, it’s an absolute shame.

I’m going to end this rant with something Jim Robson told me:

“Sports became a real release or outlet for people in tough times … There was something about sports being an escape, but the people who are suffering financially nowadays couldn’t afford to go to a game.”

And ain’t that the truth.

To every Canucks fan who’ll be watching from home or a pub, I’ll be joining you.

To all the Suits planning to go to Rogers Arena who aren’t really huge Canucks fans – I hope you feel guilty that there are a hundred thousand people who should be there instead of you.

And don’t spill your $8 beer on your $2,000 suit.

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16 Responses

  1. Tcarson says:

    Looked at one way you make a great point, the organization is pricing the fan out of the arena. 

    But on the other hand, how many actually want to go into that arena of brutally childish noise encouragement, bombarding advertising, the accelerating costs for everything and all the attendant hassles? 

    While ‘the show’ has been getting increasingly less pleasant to go to the TV experience with HD, bigger screens, better camera angles and sound and all the rest has become, well, amazing, plus you can easily walk away when the game ain’t. 

    I would never pay a grand to watch a hockey game, or $50 for that matter, but I love the TV experience.

    Where’s all this going? We’ll probably find out the moment the Canucks become a crappy team again. Those seats can only fetch those prices when people actually want to sit in them.

  2. pugsnpucks says:

    And to top it off, all they give you is a towel. Whoop de do!

  3. Ryan says:

    From @rmackman:twitter: I think if you look at it from a broader perspective, you’ll see attending any sporting event in North America has continued to cost more and more since the 1980s.  Whether you want to take your family to an NHL game in Canada or an NFL game in the United States, a dad, two kids, and his wife are looking at about a $300-400 night. 

    Tickets, parking, a hot dog and soda for each kid, a game program, and maybe a t-shirt for each kid.  You wonder why people don’t buy season tickets?  It’s because the average fan can’t spend $300-400 for 41 home games, or in the NFL even 8 home games!  Then if your team advances to the playoffs, it will cost even more money.

    It’s a shame because sure the “suits” get to watch, and the “real fans” don’t.  However, who is really getting screwed out of this is the kids.  Those kids may not get to have the, “first time I went to a game with my dad” memories.  Really that’s just a shame, and if you want to think about it from a financial perspective, the 6 year old kid who doesn’t get to go to a game today, is also a 34 year old man who won’t be a fan of your team 28 years later.

  4. Voiceofreason says:

    Sounds like somebody is hurt that they can’t afford to pay the market value of a Canucks ticket. Maybe the author should stop whining and work towards a better paying job. Either that, or cheer for a team that doesn’t gouge their fans.

  5. To add another perspective to this post – My family has season ticket packages in a couple of different sections and I can tell you that the prices the Canucks themselves charge are nowhere near what the market charges for them. (For the Finals, they’re $150/seat in one section and $190/seat in another, and these aren’t the worst seats in the house.)  The link in Katie’s post references the secondary ticket market.

    Unfortunately, ticket prices is a pure function of supply and demand.  (Why I LOL’d and LMAO’d when Gary Bettman claimed they needed the lockout to control rising ticket prices, although I suppose in a way they did control rising ticket prices in Phoenix.)  Think of it this way: 17,000 of Rogers Arena’s 18,630 seats are dedicated to season ticket holders or season ticket holder equivalents (half-seasons, ice paks).  That means on any given game, only 1,630 seats are available.  Take away seats set aside for the NHL, the players’ families, the visiting team, etc. For the Finals, some seats were removed for broadcast and media.  After all this, there are probably less than 1,500 seats left for the rest of the 4+ million British Columbians who want to go to a game.  Economics 101: when supply is low and demand is high, prices are going to be very high.

    I know this sucks, but short of demand for tickets going down – like they did in the late 90’s when the team sucked and were drawing 13,000 fans for Saturday night games – it’s the new reality for Canucks fans.

  6. hockeytonk says:

    Are you saying that anyone who wants to go and watch their favourite team in the playoffs SHOULD be a highly paid business man? I thought hockey was for average Canadians? Since when did income have anything to do with being a hockey fan? If every person who made less than Katie dropped off the Canucks fan base, they’d be left with very few fans on wagon. Sorry kids, sorry students, sorry average working family, voiceofreason thinks you should stay home…. 

  7. Voiceofreason says:

    It seems you are confused. It’s not me who thinks people should stay home. I don’t actually mention staying home anywhere in my post. Perhaps you should work on your reading comprehension. You certainly made a lot of assumptions in your post!

    In my comment, I merely highlight that the market value for a Canucks ticket is too expensive for the author, and that he or she takes it personally. Instead of complaining about the current state of affairs with the Canucks franchise, why not actually DO something about it, rather than whine about it on the internet? If you don’t like the prices a business (and the Vancouver Canucks are a business, in case you were confused. They’re not a charity giving entertainment to “average Canadians”. Sorry if you were expecting more!), don’t support them with your money.

  8. Kgf jm says:

    ex  .. effing.. actly

  9. Ruffdeezy says:

    My tickets for the game 1 is 150 a seat since I have an ice pack. The cheapest price from ticketmaster will probably be 300 a seat. 17k out 18860 are decently priced. I was on the waiting list for 4 years before I got an ice pack

  10. Ed Lau says:

    I get a number of pairs of club seats during the regular season and I loathe sitting down there.  I try to trade for upper bowl tickets and cash whenever possible?

    Why?  The lower bowl is always full of suits and puck bunnies…or hockey hoes as I like to call them.  People that could care less about the game and instead spend the time talking business or about lesser “sports” like golf.  I once sat beside 4 girls that were…uh…dressed so hopefully the players or the rich suits in the club seats would notice them and they spent at least two periods talking about their various relationship troubles.

    They even had the cojones to tell me to quiet down since I’m doing my usual yelling at refs and heckling opposing players so that they could talk about how much of a douche Tiffany’s boyfriend is…so I made an extra effort to direct my distaste for Dustin Brown (it was the LA game) in their general direction.  I once actually temporarily deafened a Portugal fan standing in front of me at an English bar watching a World Cup match…so I doubt they got another word in edgewise.

    But I digress.  I say all this because the atmosphere at a Canucks game is just not up to standard when you’re sitting down there with all the non-hockey fans…so I encourage you if you are burdened with a lower bowl seat to absolutely make these people’s lives a living hell.

    Why?  So they’ll stop coming to games even if their bosses give them tickets. 

    But do so just by being an awesome Canucks fan.  Jump, yell, high five…all the stuff they should be doing.  It disturbs the suit’s business hour and makes the fan experience for real fans down in the depths all the more enjoyable.

    …dammit, I should write my own post about this.

  11. EnF says:

    You could always go to a wnba game. The Seattle team isn’t far from Vancouver.

  12. Justine Galo says:

    I was sitting beside someone who talked nothing but business during the regular season and I wanted to throw him over the railing. I get what you mean. It sucks, but in the world of business (and the Canucks are a business) your bread needs to be buttered.  That’s the rule of the game.

    As an entrepreneur in my over $17,000 a year seats, I get it.  The Canucks want my money and I can afford to give it to them.  That’s not my fault and in a lot of ways, it’s not the fault of many who own those seats in the lower bowl, in the suites, in the hospitality/specialty areas. Are you (not you specifically, Katie) willing to give up $17,000 of your salary to watch your team and them about half that to watch all the playoff games?

    Not all fans that own those seats and can afford to go to the games are ‘corporate whores’ and talk business throughout the game. I actually know a good number who are fans and love the game as well. We’re not all bad, ya know.

    Ever since the first game at GM Place in 1995, the tickets have been ‘out of reach’ of many. It’s just the way the world of sports goes. Also, just a reminder, if it wasn’t for some of these suits back in the dark days of the Canucks (97-00) Bettman would have been given more fuel to move the team to an American city when he really wanted. 

    Maybe it’s just because I can afford these ridiculous prices, it still doesn’t mean I want to pay them. When I sell my tickets to a game I don’t attend, I usually just sell them at face value, because I’m not looking to make any profit from it. I just want my costs to be covered, and as would most of those corporate seats, that’s why they usually sell them back to the Vancouver Canucks and not a ticket broker.

    If you’re gonna be mad at anyone, it should be to those people who buy seasons tickets, sell them to brokers and make a good profit off them.

  13. Justine Galo says:

    He’s just saying “Vote with your dollar”. I don’t buy a lot of products out there because I don’t like the way a company operates, don’t like their core values, etc etc.

  14. I’ll be joining at a bar too . . . at 2am on the other side of the world. By the way, the $924 you quoted is roughly equivalent to what a high school teacher makes here per MONTH. I know, because that’s what I do. I supplement it somewhat with refereeing and writing, but it’s still my main source of income.

  15. I’ll be joining at a bar too . . . at 2am on the other side of the world. By the way, the $924 you quoted is roughly equivalent to what a high school teacher makes here per MONTH. I know, because that’s what I do. I supplement it somewhat with refereeing and writing, but it’s still my main source of income.

  1. May 29, 2011

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