Monday, October 25, 2010

Major Junior Prices in NHL Cities

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I thought I'd do a cross-Canada comparison of ticket prices for Major Junior teams that are located in NHL markets. There are 6 NHL teams in the country but 7 CHL clubs with two being based in the greater Toronto region. I explored all of the team websites, called a few for clarification on prices. I now have a solid comparison for what it would cost to get a single game ticket in a few different areas in each rink. Who is the cheapest or the most expensive? The answers may (or may not) surprise you.

I chose to go with individual tickets because in Mississauga, one of the "Toronto" teams, they're hosting the Memorial Cup this year so much of their season ticket packages are driven with that event in mind. Also, mini-packs and other discount packs are just too many to mention. So a single seat for a single game seems to make the most sense for a broad comparison like this.

First, the teams in question are all in NHL cities (or near one) but do not share their rink with the NHL team, aside from the two Alberta clubs. There is the first difference and you'll notice that is reflected in ticket prices.

I looked at prices for 3 basic areas in a rink: center ice, a corner and behind the net. I also made note of the most expensive ticket available and the cheapest, just in case those were some how different than the other three zones.

Center Ice

Mississauga has the least expensive center ice seat. If you pay in advance and pick up your ticket there is no service charge so you can plunk down at the red line for a measly 14.95 (+ HST).

The Montreal Juniors, who don't list ticket prices on their site, tell me that you can sit anywhere in the rink, (except for the cordoned off areas between the bluelines reserved for corporate seats), for $15. They sent me a seating chart which indicates there are two rows at center, behind the corporate seats so you can sit at center albeit in the top of the section.

In Brampton you'll pay $18.50 to sit 10 rows up at the red line. At an Ottawa 67s game, an adult will pay 21.50 but it's a bit cheaper if you are under 21.

Prices are higher in the WHL. The Calgary Hitmen have center ice seats available that cost $23 including a $3 charge from Ticketmaster. In Vancouver you'll pay $24 including Ticketmaster charges for the same seat. Edmonton has the most expensive center ice seat coming in at $29 + $3.50 for Ticketmaster. (Why Ticketmaster in Edmonton is $3.50 but $3 even in Calgary is a good question).

Mississauga - $14.95
Montreal - $15
Brampton - $18.50
Ottawa - $21.50
Calgary - $20
Vancouver - $20
Edmonton - $29

In The Corners

Once again the St. Mike Majors were the cheapest with advanced tickets in the corner costing just $12.95. Brampton comes next with $14 followed by Montreal's flat rate of $15. The Giants ask for $18 to sit in the corner while Ottawa's corner seats cost an adult $19. Calgary's sides, corners and ends are all the same cost on the lower level so $20. In Edmonton the corner seats are still the most expensive of these CHL teams at $25.

Mississauga - $12.95
Brampton - $14
Montreal - $15
Vancouver - $18
Ottawa - $19
Calgary - $20
Edmonton - $25

Sitting behind the net is the exact same price as sitting in the corner, with a couple of exceptions which I'll touch on later.

Most Expensive

Mississauga's most expensive ticket comes in at $27.30 and that's with waiting until game day to purchase and then only if you do so online. The same tickets on game day at the box office are $21.95 and that includes access to the "Platinum Lounge".

The Montreal Juniors tell me that $45 is their most expensive ticket but those are the sections reserved for corporate seats in lieu of luxury suites that most arenas now have. Not generally available to the public and not as a single ticket option so... back to the $15 tickets here.

Brampton's club seats are $19.50 while in Ottawa you'll pay $21.50. Vancouver tops out at $20 while in Calgary you can pay as high as $35. Edmonton's most expensive single seat is $29.

Montreal - $15
Brampton - $19.50
Vancouver - $20
Ottawa - $21.50
Mississauga - $21.95
Edmonton - $29
Calgary - $35

Cheapest in the House

3 of these 7 teams have the luxury of having a second deck in their arena so they have the ability to offer another assortment of ticket prices. However, only two of the teams actually make use of this advantage.

In Ottawa, an adult can sit anywhere in the second level for just $16 and it will cost you $18 to sit anywhere in the Saddledome's 2nd level.

The Oil Kings don't use the second level of Rexall Place except for a small number of rows at center ice and they are still the same $29 as the lower level. That said, Edmonton does offer a single section, behind the home team's net, where single seats are just $15. On top of that, the team does offer a "No Frills" season ticket on their website for $299 which comes out to $8.30/game. Until I had begun this project I was not aware of that particular option so I'm not sure how aggressive they are in marketing the "No Frills" seat.

Mississauga - $12.95
Brampton - $14 (but they also have $10 Thursdays)
Edmonton - $15 (or $8.30)
Montreal - $15
Ottawa - $16
Calgary - $18
Vancouver - $18

Argument

There are obviously some different circumstances between all of these teams. Geography, size of market, size of building, relationship with the NHL team.. all might play a role in setting of ticket prices.

I haven't been to most of the buildings in question so I can't say what they have to offer. However, you know when you go to a Calgary Hitmen or Edmonton Oil Kings game that you will be sitting in a NHL quality arena and that includes all of the perks - scoreboard with video replays, mostly comfortable seating, quality P.A. sound, etc. I know the Oil Kings argued early on that the NHL building was a reason their prices could not be reasonably compared to what tickets cost in Moose Jaw, Kamloops or Lethbridge.

On the downside, there are people who believe that junior hockey is best viewed in an arena made for junior hockey (and I'm one of them). I would much rather watch a WHL game at the Centrium in Red Deer than one at Rexall Place or the Saddledome because the atmosphere is so much better. If the Oil Kings played in a 6500 seat facility instead of one meant for 16,500... it would be a way better experience for fans.

Attendance in these rinks is surprising considering the ticket prices. As best as I can tell, with the most recent updates, the following appears to be the average attendance so far this year:

Calgary - 7748
Ottawa - 6084
Vancouver - 5810
Edmonton - 3570
Mississauga - 2955
Montreal - 2657
Brampton - 1700

We'd really like to hear your thoughts on all of this. If you've been to any of these rinks, what do you think of the facilities and the atmosphere in them? Are there video scoreboards in Brampton and Montreal? Do you get replays in Mississauga and Ottawa? What do you pay for parking at those various rinks? Did I omit a factor you think should be noted?

If you're in those markets and are not attending games... why not? Let us know!

8 comments:

Guy Flaming said...

Comment via email to me:

"Parking is an annoying feature. Sure your Calgary Hitman ticket is only $20 but you pay $11 to park there. With the removal of most of Victoria Park there are very few options to park and walk to games now without riding the LRT which would be $5 per person to go to and come home from a game. With 3 people in your car it doesn't make sense to use mass transit (which is so backwards to common thinking)."

- Kent

I'd agree that parking is an issue but didn't have access to parking costs across the country. I will note that to park at Rexall Place for an Oil Kings game... $15! Which i find crazy expensive considering you pay at least that much just to get in.

I am not sure the team has any control on parking though, I wonder about places like Calgary in that regard.

Greg said...

Good article Guy.
I have been to most rinks in the WHL, OHL, AJHL, BCHL and many in the Q.
The smaller rinks are great ie Prince George, Kamloops, Kelowna etc.
Many have the high tech scoreboards and replays and offer free parking, great atmosphere and affordable tickets.
The Oil Kings offered free parking when you showed your ticket last year but are not this season....
It's too bad for Edmonton area people as the WHL is a great place to take the kids but Rexall doesn't really cut it.
Some of my favorite venues are Camrose (AJHL), Kelowna (WHL), Kamloops (WHL), Prince George (WHL), Val D'or (QMJHL), Spruce Grove (AJHL), Rouyn Noranda (QMJHL), Windsor (OHL), Everett (WHL)
Cheers
Greg S

Guy Flaming said...

Greg,

Thanks for chiming in.

I would find it hard to compare paying $13 to sit on a bench at the Grant Fuhr arena in Spruce Grove compared to paying $15 to sit in the "worst" seat at Rexall Place.

I like the rink in Camrose too but it's brand new so $12 there is quite a deal. An actual seat, don't recall the scoreboard having video replay though.

Those are the extras that you pay for at Rexall (and I assume the Saddledome and the other big city rinks).

Greg said...

I agree that an AJHL arena is not Rexall..I was looking at it as far as the atmosphere and affordability for junior hockey. Many fans want to see hockey and a nice or nicer arena may or may not be imoportant.
I agree G. Fuhr is not Rexall but the atmosphere is often better and with free parking it equates to less than half the cost of Rexall...that is before you even look at food or beverages...
Kelowna, PG, Kamloops, etc are not Rexall in size but certainly provide a better atmosphere than Rexall.
In a nutshell I agree with you that junior hockey is best in an arena made for junior hockey.
Having said this ....all junior hockey is great!
GS

Guy Flaming said...

You're definitely right when it comes to atmosphere Greg.

Not having to pay for parking, and rarely eating at the games, I don't automatically think of those things.

I honestly don't know why anyone would pay arena prices for junk food instead of having similar junk food on the way or after the game.

Guy Flaming said...

Another email sent to me and posted here with permission:

Just read your blog post about junior teams in NHL markets and really enjoyed it. Great to see the comparison in ticket prices, some of which were pretty surprising. I'm interning with the Ottawa 67's this season and an avid major junior fan in general, so I felt compelled to share a few tidbits about the club and the arena.

First of all, parking is a flat rate of $5 per vehicle. They have introduced parking vouchers this season that you can buy in a package of 10 or so and saves you a few dollars, but I'm not entirely certain if they're privy to only season ticket holders. I can check and get back to you on that if you like. There is a lot of parking area, but because of where the arena is located, it can get pretty busy with other events such as craft fairs or farmer's markets happening on the same day as a game. For those not driving, public transit stops right in front of the arena and there is even a $2 discount on your ticket if you show a bus pass or proof of bus payment.

There is a scoreboard that shows replays and game view in general and though it's not anything special in terms of any wow-factor, I would say it's much better than nothing at all. There are TVs set up along the concourse as well, so if you're roaming during periods for food or drinks, it's easy to take a quick peek at the action or watch while you stand in line.

The attendance does vary throughout the season, but the Barber Pole faithful bring out their horns and noise-makers every game and make very good use of them, especially the area behind the visitors bench known as the Asylum. Season ticket holders seated there bring drums and make as much noise as humanly possible, a great treat for the opponents, I'm sure ;) There were just over 9800 people for the home opener and the building was nothing short of electric. (Then I hear about the Coyotes averaging less than that per game and shake my head, but that's another story to beat with a bat.)

Other than that, I agree what you said about junior hockey being played in junior hockey rinks. The 67's have played a few games at Scotiabank Place including recently in the playoffs, and though I'm sure it's a neat experience for the players stepping foot in an NHL rink, the atmosphere doesn't measure up to the close and comfy confines of where they usually play.

Hope this helps!
--
Aisys

Ryan_ said...

I think you should include the Gatineau Olympique who are in the same market as the 67s and the Senators. I can walk to both the 67s and the Olympique's rink from my house. Kanata (Scotiabank place) unfortunately is a very long distance from central Ottawa.

Guy Flaming said...

You're absolutely right Ryan, I should have included Gatineau.