Monday August 28th, at 10:00am, tickets went on sale for the newest season of Detroit Red Wings hockey - the season that sees them moving out of Joe Louis Arena and into Little Caesar’s Arena.
I hope you’ve been saving up, are otherwise independently wealthy, or don’t have any responsibilities outside of work, because it looks like the new LCA will be a venue not for the light of wallet if you plan to see a "marquee team" or want to make a day of heading downtown on the weekend...
As expected, ticket prices (which already increased last year with the "Farewell To The Joe" campaign) have increased with the move to the new venue. What wasn’t expected, at least by me, is that some tickets have jumped in price by about 50%. And it’s probably not the tickets you’re thinking of.
The Price Is Wrong
Looking for tickets through Ticketmaster.com, you’ll notice a trend. Some games have remained reasonably priced - usually games taking place during the week against an opponent like the Arizona Coyotes or even the Calgary Flames. But some games, like the season opener, weekend match-ups, or any of the games against the Toronto Maple Leafs, have had costs skyrocket specifically for the upper bowl.
Taking a look at the aforementioned match-ups, I can understand some price increases for games with young stars or hyped matches like the season opener. However, prices haven’t just been increased - they’ve been driven thru the roof, with tickets starting at $150 each for nosebleed seats to watch Auston Matthews thru a portable telescope on a Friday night, or see Sidney Crosby giving the refs an Oscar-worthy dramatic monologue during the New Year’s Eve game. In recent seasons past, if my memory isn’t failing me, these tickets have started around $70-$100 - making this an estimated 50-100% price increase. The season opener against the Minnesota Wild is the costliest upper bowl seat of the season, starting at $195. Most weekend games seem to start at $100 per seat, with some "rivals", such as the Chicago Blackhawks, falling into that same price point even during the work week.
To contrast this with the lower bowl, ticket prices there seem to have only increased about 10%. For the Leafs and Pens games mentioned above, you can get seats on the glass (or within a few rows of it) for around $225-250. Those same seats at The Joe - about $195-225 (again, provided my memory isnt failing me - data for years past is tough to come by). The lone exception in the lower bowl seems to be the area directly behind the benches - that now goes for around $500.
Is This Normal?
Around the league, it’s tough to say if this type of price structuring is normal - jacking up the "entry cost", specifically for certain games, while leaving some of the most expensive seats from previous years relatively untouched. Again using Ticketmaster to browse, I didn’t exactly find a lot of evidence supporting or in contrast to what the Wings are doing - and to be fair, a number of more traditional hockey markets haven’t released tickets for sale yet.
Dallas Stars fans appear to be able to at least get in the building for about $20, any day of the week, with prices jumping steeply to get closer to the action - mezzanine seats start just under $100. Blues fans will pay a premium to watch a game on the weekend, but not nearly as steep as a 100% increase - they can see the Dallas Stars on a Saturday starting at $64, or the Blackhawks on a Wednesday starting at $54, but they’ll pay about $400 per ticket if they want to bang against the glass and yell obscene things at Patrick Kane. Carolina has a similar pricing structure set up, where you can pay as little as $28 to see the Minnesota Wild on a Saturday or as much as $300 to cry into your beer as it rests on the dasher while the Hurricanes get stormed by the likes of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.
The Weekday Disparity
To be fair to the Red Wings, there are a number of games on the calendar with very friendly ticket prices - but these are usually 7:30pm starts during the work week. If you can make it out to see the Calgary Flames on a Wednesday, it’s only $50 to sit in the rafters. Even the lower bowl is more moderately priced for that game, with tickets available at $120.
But for a working class city, these "late" weekday games have always been problematic to attend - how often have you heard on the radio that the Wings are still offering Student Rush tickets for $25 with seating available in the lower bowl, even just an hour before puck drop? Many fans have early jobs to wake up for, or work late hours, or have other mandatory obligations during the week that make affordable weekend games absolutely vital to their attendance. For other fans, it’s not always a matter of making weekday games affordable - some fans just can’t do it.
I get that a price increase was always coming. One had to be expected, as with any new arena opening up. But it disappoints me that the Wings feel that they can gouge the fans scraping and saving to get in, the ones who love the game so much that they just want to get in the building to watch their favorite players, while the "corporate entertainment budget" seats in the lower bowl remain comparatively untouched for the season’s biggest games.
Will this season’s pricing structure affect if you go to games?
This poll is closed
I’ll go no matter when, I have a trust fund.
I can splurge for a weekend game.
Screw work, I can sleep thru a few meetings for weekday games.
The best seat is my couch.