Tampa Bay Lightning among the least expensive fan experiences in the NHL for 2013

USA TODAY Sports

According to Team Marketing Report's annual Fan Cost Index research, the Tampa Bay Lightning increased their ticket prices a mere one percent post-lockout with an average ticket price of $38.12.

The National Hockey League might have missed out on a few months of action because of the 2012 lockout, but they've seemed to make up for it on the business side at least.

This season, the NHL has seen an overall price increase in tickets, food, and other game day items according to Team Marketing Report's Fan Cost Index (PDF). The 30 National Hockey League franchises have increased their prices in an average season ticket by 5.7 percent to $61.01 per ticket.

Since the full-season cancellation of the 2004-05 NHL lockout, there has been a hefty 50 percent price increase on the average ticket. With the increases, it's obvious the League had faith in retaining its fans despite the massive negative effect of the lockout; the price increases reflect teams holding steady to the idea of continued despite this. Last season, the NHL reported a 5.4 percent increase in ticket prices (two teams showed a decrease) while attendance had increased 1.8 percent.

The 2012-2013 lockout-shortened season will not be the first that had seen such price increases with the end of a league-implemented work-stoppage; the abbreviated 1994-95 season (also shortened to 48 games) saw the average ticket price spike 13.6 percent to $33.66. The next season saw a 6.2 percent increase.

The overall Fan Cost Index is composed of a few variables: four average-price tickets, two small draft beers, four small drinks, four regular-size hot dogs, parking, two game programs and two of the least expensive adult sized hats in the arena operated by the team.

According to Team Marketing Report (the entity behind the Fan Cost Index), the Tampa Bay Lightning are second in the League when it comes to overall fan friendly prices. The Lightning increased their ticket prices a mere one percent this season, seeing an average ticket price of $38.12. The difference is apparent when you compare a single Lightning ticket to the most expensive "average" ticket in the league, which belongs to the Toronto Maple Leafs. There, the average ticket price sells for $124.69.

A family of four can attend a hockey game at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, buying four average priced tickets, two small beers, four small drinks, four hot dogs, two adult sized hats, all while parking for $256.48 (fans don't even have to purchase programs at the Forum; they are free). The Lightning's FCI comes out to nearly $100 below the league average Cost Index price of $354.82.

It's no surprise why the Lightning has sold out all eight of its home games so far this season (arena capacity, by the way, is 19,204). Although the Lightning increased ticket prices, the prices remain affordable for fans, especially for families. That keeps the game open to a broad swath of fans in this struggling economy; that's a win-win proposition.

Like many teams in the NHL, the Lightning offer a multitude of ticket package; one example is the Little Caesar's five game pack. Fans have their choice of picking any five Lightning home games on the schedule while receiving a 20th anniversary hat and a coupon for a Little Caesar's Hot-N-Ready pizza.

Fans looking to attend multiple games in the Channelside Club, Club level, or promenade level can purchase tickets starting at $65. Fans purchasing these plans have to purchase packs at a 12-game minimum.

There are also "All you can eat" seats starting at $39 that are available for purchase for any Tuesday home game. These tickets include unlimited hot dogs, popcorn, nachos, soda and water.

Post lockout, Tampa Bay Lightning fans had a limited opportunity to purchase season tickets at just $8.33 a game. Owner Jeff Vinik put 200 season tickets up for grabs at $200 for a full season; they sold out within 90 minutes. At current, the Bolts have 12,250 full-season ticket holders.

When asked for remarks about the Fan Cost Index and report, the Tampa Bay Lightning declined comment.

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