Feb 26 2014, 7:25pm CST | by Forbes
Given the massive success of the original NHL Heritage Classic back in 2003, it was only a matter of time before the NHL expanded its slate of outdoor games. The U.S. Version of the Heritage Classic, the Winter Classic, originated in 2008 and has been held in every full NHL season since. This year, the NHL expanded even further into outdoor games, by adding the NHL Stadium Series. There are a total of four outdoor games as part of the 2014 NHL Stadium Series. On Saturday, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks will face off at Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears. At an average price of $234 on the secondary market, it’s the second-most expensive outdoor game this season.
The average price for all outdoor games this season is $200, which makes Blackhawks tickets for this outdoor game 21% higher than the average for all of the outdoor games. With Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews, both fresh off Olympic gold, the game has two of the biggest and most successful players in the NHL. With all that star power, Chicago’s rabid sports fan base and the fact that this is the first outdoor hockey game in Chicago, it’s no surprise that the game sold out in less than 24 hours. Nonetheless, it is surprising that the game’s average price is $20 less than the average price of $261 for Blackhawks tickets at the United Center. When you consider that Soldier Field has three times the seating capacity of the United Center, though, the fact that it’s less than $20 below that price is very impressive.
While this may be the most attended hockey game ever in Chicago, it pales in comparison to the Winter Classic, which sold a record 105,500 tickets, the most ever to a hockey game. Winter Classic tickets had an average list price of $155. On Jan 26, the Rangers and Devils packed Yankee Stadium to capacity and tickets to that contest sold for an average of $234 on the secondary market. This was the most expensive outdoor game of the season. Eve the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings game at Dodger Stadium, which had the lightest demand, sold out. The day before the event, those tickets had an average price of $199 on the secondary market.
While the price and demand for all the U.S. games was strong, ironically, the outlook for Sunday’s Heritage Classic, is not as sunny. While Canuck’s GM Mike Gillis is “confident” that the Heritage Classic will sell out, there are still tickets available on the primary market at every price point other than the very cheapest ($104.20) and most expensive ($324.70). Currently, tickets on the secondary market for this game are listed at an average price of $184, which makes it the cheapest outdoor game, other than the Winter Classic.
In past seasons however, the NHL’s outdoor games have been among the highest priced games of the year. The 2012 Winter Classic between the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers at Citizens Bank Park carried an average ticket price of $504. In 2011 there were two outdoor games, as the Montreal Canadiens faced off against the Calgary Flames in the Heritage Classic at McMahon Stadium, and the Pittsburgh Penguins took on the Washington Capitals at Heinz Field. These games also carried extremely high average ticket prices of $438 and $489, respectively. market demand has naturally pulled back a bit leading to this year’s lower prices.
Some pundits have suggested that the proliferation of outdoor games diminishes the novelty and excitement surrounding them, and that eventually, secondary-market prices and demand will drop. Commercially however, the games are still serving their purpose of creating a tremendous of exposure, interest and coverage for the fastest game of two feet.
Source: Forbes Business
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