I just received the annual email from the Washington Capitals to renew season tickets for the 2010-11 season.
This year’s increase in price? Approximately 32%.
Yes, the Caps’ current ticket prices—particularly for my seats in the front row of the upper deck—are not only significantly discounted from face value, but quite a bargain by league standards. According to The New York Times, 20 NHL teams charged more, on average, for tickets than the Capitals did in 2009-10.
Nonetheless, it was a bit of a shock seeing the new total invoice amount in a painfully-enlarged lump-sum. Marketing suggestion: since the per-ticket price is not provided anyway (it required math… “It was my understanding that there would be no math”), why not proffer the bill in easier-to-digest monthly payment amounts? It’d be no less frustrating than obfuscating the individual ticket price, and it would be much be easier on fans’ hearts.
One must admit that this increase, while a bit breathtaking at first, is actually reasonable. After all, aren’t the Washington Capitals the hottest ticket in town? Sure, demand jumps even higher for marquee opponents (Pittsburgh, Detroit, Philly, etc.); but no matter the opponent, D.C. is craving Caps games. One needs look no further than the team’s impressive streak of sold-out home games reaching back to last season’s playoffs… something previously unimaginable for a hockey team in Washington.
As a side note, not all ticket holders received quite the sticker shock I did. For instance, a friend in Section 104 faced the same dollar increase I did… which translates to a much more palatable 14% increase for him.
Even after these increases, the Caps’ 2010-11 season ticket price increase will bring their average price up to approximately the 2009-10 league average — in other words, roughly a middle-of-the-pack ticket price for a top-of-the-pack team.
So yes, after recovering from the initial shock, I’ll be re-upping for season tickets. After all, the chance to see the most exciting team in the NHL play 41+ times a year is a rare and wonderful opportunity, and one worth a premium price even during tough economic times.
Let us hope, however, that this year’s big increase remains an aberration — a one-time “market adjustment” to bring prices more in line with demand — in the Caps’ overall ticket-price history. The last thing the Caps (or their supporters) need is to price out loyal fans and fill the arena with cellphone-talking corporate types who kill the amazing energy level at the games.