I decided to go back in the Boltsmag archives to a year ago in order to find some content for discussion right now. Hockey content, that is.... I went back to the Lightning vs. Montreal Canadiens series posts and one of those posts hit me on the forehead as something that has been overlooked as of late in the media as well as on the blogsphere with regards to CBA negotiations.
Last year around this time, Bolts fans were hit and hit hard by ticket prices to catch playoff games... Heck, to say priced out wouldn't be a stretch of terminology either. I'm not faulting Lightning ownership for raising ticket prices for the playoffs (as everyone does it) but for prices to go as high as they did in a market that does not have much disposable income to play around with - well, it hurt. Of course, it hurt real good when it came to the Bolts winning the Stanley Cup, yet to have tickets in the upper-corners of the arena (nose bleeders) going for 55 bucks a game -- you start getting an idea that there is a problem.
During November, December and January, I often talked to my friend and fellow Lightning fan about the CBA situation and one thing that was commonly brought up in discussion was ticket prices. Owners had been playing that card -- that prices would be lower under their planned Salary cap system -- during negotiations and yet there was no proof of lower prices. Andrew's Dallas Stars Page has a very good piece of writing with regards to the entire issue of ticket prices and the CBA negotiations.
I'm just left wondering what to expect next season if and when it comes. Surely there will be a temporary break in prices or some other attendance bells-and-whistles in order to draw fans back. I can actually see Palace Sports and Entertainment going back to their ticket discounts and voucher system (which was employed during the 50+ loss seasons to get fans to attend games) in order to lure fans back.
Yet could the supply-and-demand system keep hockey ticket prices sky high around the league?
I don't expect Toronto or Montreal to lower their ticket prices as both provinces are hockey mad. I don't expect the Rangers, Avalanche or Red Wings to do so either as they are all in documented strong markets. Hell, I could see ticket prices staying the same in every Canadian city in the league while Boton, New York, Detroit, Denver and LA keep prices just the way they planned because of supply-and-demand....
Ticket prices are an issue and in a market like Tampa or other non-traditional markets, they can help cease any growth in popularity of the sport w9ith ticket prices too high to allow repeat buying from die hard fans. Hockey isn't supposed to be a sport for Aristocrats and the well-to-do... Yet with some of the pricing, you would think that only the affluent were fans of the game.