Thursday, July 10, 2008

I've Seen The Future, And It's Expensive

The Rangers finally sent out their invoices for season tickets Wednesday and they give subscribers 20 days to send in their payments, lest they lose their seats.

Ticket prices for the 2008-09 season have, of course, gone up. I have two seats in section 329 and they will cost me $52 per seat per game. That is up six bucks from last season, 10 from the season before and 12 from the first season out of the lockout (which was four cheaper than the year prior). Now $52 is not quite the extravagant cost from the first round of last year's playoffs - $75 - but it is still a significant raise ... and for what?

The ticket costs, which you can pay outright or over a six-month pay plan, cover 43 games. As the Rangers are losing a regular season home game to Prague, that means that they are forcing you to pay full price for three preseason games. As many subscribers have experienced, if you can't attend those games, it is virtually impossible to resell them for cost so you are instantly losing money. And, being as the Rangers are playing two preseason games in Switzerland, you can be assured not to see the actual New York Rangers. The good part about that is that every prospect, every free agent, everyone will get a chance to show their stuff before the real games begin. That is great for hockey geeks like me but terrible for ticket resale value. And, believe it or not, members of the Rangers season subscription office are recommending resale to recoup costs as they understand the position that they are putting fans.

Even if you think that the moves that Sather and company made last week were good ones (I don't), you should be prepared for the worst out of the gate. There will be eight preseason games, two in Switzerland and then the two season-opening games in Prague ... all of that travel sets this team up to struggle right off of the bat. The Olympic break doomed the 2006 squad because it came right in the middle of the year - by the time they faced the Devils, the main players had already played seven, eight more games than their competitors while flying to and from Italy. One can only hope that this group of guys will be able to recover over the long grind that will come once they return from their Eurotrip. But I wouldn't bet on it ...

Another question worth asking is that jet lag or not, will the 2008-09 Rangers be worth watching? The personality of the Rangers is gone - no Shanny, no Avery, no Jagr. Markus Naslund and Wade Redden are both mild mannered a la Chris Drury. And while a guy like Aaron Voros is sure to make some waves with his physical play, he can't infuriate the way Sean did. The new Rangers are a more generic, vanilla squad and yet the front office is charging you more to watch them.

I, for one, am hoping that there are enough gullible people in New York willing to pay big bucks for bad hockey because it looks like it will get rough, and quickly. They can have all of the number retirements and honoured numbers they want, but if this team doesn't play better than it looks on paper, they will be in trouble in terms of fans. Should they miss the playoffs, then they will surely see a large ticketholder turnover next summer, when they are certainly going to raise costs again to start paying for the MSG renovation.

It is New York so it is almost assured that the team will be able to get whatever price it wants, but it is just sad that the diehard fans are slowly being priced out. The atmosphere suffers and MSG will cease to be one of the best places to watch hockey in the NHL. It has become a much more corporate building over the last 20 years and when you take the personality of the fans out, and let the players with personality go, what do you have left?

Not something worth $52 a game, that's for sure ...


Sean Leahy said...

someone's gotta pay for Redden and Rozsival's new contracts :)

Sonia said...

i suppose the costs are different for full season ticket holders and partial season holders, but i was paying $52 a seat last season in section 302 with my partial plan. i'm pretty sure it was $42 the year before. ugh.