For the third time since 2008, the year that the Cubification of the Chicago Blackhawks started, the team is raising ticket prices. That was the year snake oil saleman John McDonough and his lickspittle Jay Blunk came to the team and took over the front office.
Hockey may be the sixth or seventh favorite sport, or at least the NHL is the sixth or seventh favorite league in United States, but the insane consumer demand in Chicago actually justifies the Hawks’ obscene price hike.
Hard to believe that for every year of the preceding decade up until 2008, the team was averaging just 6-7,000 fans a night. Just five years ago, you could get a 300 level seat for $8 if you had a college ID.
From the Chicago Tribune:
The Hawks have raised the price of tickets for those with season plans an average of 8 percent for the 2012-13 season. The increases occur across all price tiers. The cheapest 300-level seats move from $24 per game to $28, and the most expensive in the Private Bank Platinum Seats go from $320 to $335.
As is par for the course, the single game ticket prices will likely soon follow suit. According to that same Trib report, the Hawks have had a 99 percent renewal rate the last two seasons/waiting list in excess of 10,000 for season tickets. So, we actually have no one to blame but ourselves for this absurd price inflation. Apparently, there aren’t enough other interesting things to do here in the third largest city.
Such is the danger of a sport that almost everyone loves to watch in person, but no one likes to watch on television. These McDonough quotes from that same article warrant major criticism:
“It’s been consistent where we’ve been over the last few years. We went back to the Western Conference finals (in 2009), and there was not even a price increase at the time. We’re very, very sensitive to that.”
That’s because you made a major increase the very season before! How are you going to take credit for not jacking up costs, when you just did it the preceding seson? Do you want to take credit for not going to jail too?
“We’ve been in the bottom half of ticket pricing in the National Hockey League for many, many years. Recently we’ve just kind of crept up to the top half of that.”
Yes, they just crept up there somehow accidentally, so slowly like maple syrup oozing down a plate, you can’t stop it- it just happens mistakenly!
It was after that same Western Conference Finals season in 2009 that the Blackhawks decided their press box should be as decidedly empty as their stands are full.
Up until 2009, the team was very open and welcoming to the media. Then the next year they started throwing people out/not letting people in. Even guys who had been covering the team for nearly 30 years were tossed out as the Hawks PR went from accommodating to ludicrously restrictive overnight.
Today their press box is (by choice) about 1/10 full for most home games. I’ve seen the seating charts to verify this. So while the Hawks leave out the media, they also have the highest home attendance in the league for the fourth straight year. And McDonough got exactly what he wanted- a full house and a controlled message.
That doesn’t look to change any time soon. However, there’s got to be some blowback in the long term, right?
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports
A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; and he’s a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.