This is a rant.
I can't imagine it being anything but a rant, but I am wondering if this is happening to other teams in the NHL.
I called the ticket office of my hometown team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, to inquire about the possibility of purchasing tickets for the first game of the season. This is an important game for the Lightning, as it is the day of the raising of the Three Championship Banners: the Southeast Division Champions, the Eastern Conference Champions, and, of course, the 2003-04 Stanley Cup Champions.
Many of you may have heard about teams lowering the price of tickets in their respective arenas as a way to bring the sheep back to the flock. With the Lightning, ticket prices are very cheap...if you are planning on buying a package deal. If you are planning on buying a single ticket, well, perhaps you need to donate some plasma for money.
A single game ticket in the 300 level of the St. Pete Times Forum costs...$60.75.
Exsqueeze me? Baking powder?
These are the same seats which, two years or one season ago, I could purchase for less than $27. Now they are worth 100 percent more, even though an entire season was pissed away because of, dare I say, greed? The Lightning won the Stanley Cup, but is that a valid reason to eviscerate the wallets of the people who supported this team from a time when twenty wins was considered a breakthrough season?
If you are a hardcore fan of the game, these package deals are for you. The lowest full season deal only costs $699, which, once you factor in the taxes and processing charge, actually costs $757.93. This makes your ticket cost a mere $18.48 per game. Plus parking. Oh, and concessions. Figure at least another $20 there, seven for the cup of beer alone. And bring your binoculars, because you will be sitting in the Sherpa Level.
So now each game is costing you nearly $40. For one game. Imagine if you had two seats, because no one likes to sit alone.
The point is that the game is still out of the reach of the normal family that the NHL is trying to bring back to rink. With the salary cap in place, the ticket prices should be down across the board, not just if you want to throw down $700 a seat. For most people, that kind of money is not in their reach (maybe people have gotten used to being able to pay for groceries,) and so the casual fan has been swept aside for the hardcore. Hockey has been fast becoming a niche sport, like lacrosse, and it shows no signs of letting up from that mentality.
I wanted to take my girlfriend to see that game and other games, since she and I are fans. Unless I get a raise or hit the Florida Lottery, I will have to be content with Sunshine Network's coverage on my 27-inch TV. The smell and sounds of the rink will only be when I play on Thursdays.