Apr 19 2014, 3:23am CDT | by Forbes
The Bruins have a long history of success with six Stanley Cups championships, most recently in 2010-11. Heading into the 2014 NHL Playoffs, the Boston Bruins are favored by Las Vegas to win their seventh. While that’s good news for Bruins fans looking to root from home, it’s bad news for fans who want to see the game in person. As a result of their enviable position atop the NHL and holder of the President’s trophy, Bruins playoff tickets on the primary market are priced 140% higher than any other NHL team. The minimum price of entry to TD Garden for the first round of the playoff is $155, which will get you a spot at the back of the promenade section or somewhere in the Balcony. That’s $93 more expensive the average of the cheapest faceprice across the other 15 teams in the playoffs. The most expensive ticket at TD Garden is going for $486. If you (conservatively) assume the Bruins are applying a $92 premium to all of their price categories, they’re generating $1.3 million in additional revenue…per game. With home ice advantage, if the Bruins were to play all 16 of their possible games at home, that would amount of $20 million of incremental revenue. In years past, that $20 million in value would have gone to brokers or other fans looking to resell their tickets. However, with the aid of historical data, and riding the recent trend in professional sports toward ‘price optimization’, the 2014 Bruins will be keeping it all for themselves. While it’s the kind of money that can pay for two-three key players in the off-season, it also likely signals the beginning of the end of the secondary ticket market as we know it.
In the years before the secondary market, teams lazily set prices with a finger-in-air rationale. If demand was higher than the price they set, there was no real way to quantify the difference, and therefore no numbers to fret over. The online secondary market, however, changed all of that, and in the 15 years since ticketing went from the street corner to Internet, those numbers are available with glaring precision. Over that time, a multi-billion dollar industry has been built around inefficient team pricing. After a period of shock and indecision that lasted a decade, teams are now up off the matt and swinging with tools, technology and data that makes the days of 100% profit margins for brokers as antiquated as waiting in line to buy tickets.
Historically, ticket speculators ‘bought’ a team for the season when they believed the prospects for a post-season run were good. Along the way, these speculators—whether professionals or fans—were ok to lose money on low demand games as long as they could make up for those losses for the high demand games. Over the course of a season, the playoffs are typically the highest demand games and as close you can come to a guaranteed return on investment. With a face price of $155 for their cheapest tickets, however, the Boston Bruins are soaking up all that return-driving margin, and then some. Currently, the cheapest Bruins tickets on the secondary market are selling for $132, or 15% below face price. While season ticket holders do get a discount to the listed face price, at these prices brokers and fans are not making any money selling tickets. Unless they’re getting a discount of greater than 15%, they’re actually losing money.
The next most expensive face price on the market is for Blues playoff tickets who are selling their cheapest tickets for $78. That compares to $26 for the same ticket next season. Vegas odds say that the Blues are favored to make the make the Stanley Cup in the Western Conference, and by marking up their first-round playoff tickets by 250%, the Blues clearly expect demand to be at Stanley-Cup levels. While the Bruins overshot the market by 15%, the Blues were even farther off, overpricing tickets by 20% based on the current get-in price on the secondary market of $62.
If the Stanley Cup finals ends up being the Bruins and the Blues, the last thing that fans are likely to remember is how expensive their tickets were (especially for the winning team). However, if either team falters along with the way, there will surely be bitterness toward a team that decided to leave nothing on the table for the people who have invested in them over the years, both emotionally and financially.
For a list of prices and premiums across all 16 NHL playoff teams, visit the TiqIQ blog.
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