Recently my son and wife celebrated their birthdays at a time when they’re most beloved team was in the area. After two seasons back in the NHL, the Vancouver Canucks would finally make a stop (two stops actually) in Winnipeg in 2014.
My son is a rabid Canucks fan and now my wife has fallen for Ryan Kessler. Amazing, she’s the only female in all of North America other than his wife that likes him.
Anyway, with both of them celebrating a birthday close to one of their appearances in Manitoba, I tried to get tickets for our family to see the Jets and the Canucks.
As you are well aware, getting tickets to any Jets game is near impossible, even though the team has struggled and will not make the playoffs this year. Getting two seats to a game in the upper bowl started at $500 for the pair, and getting four in a row was impossible. So in looking for two in the lower bowl the best I could do was $900.
I was reminded of the first Jets game David and I went to, and how some of the young guys were bragging about flying to Phoenix Arizona, where ticket prices average $40 USD. Along with golfing and catching some rays, they still paid less than what tickets cost in Winnipeg.
Flights from Brandon to Calgary are not what they are from Grand Forks to Phoenix — however Calgary Flames tickets were amazingly affordable. Next up, why not try Minneapolis?
Not only were the Canucks in town on the week of both my wife and son’s birthday, but I could actually buy tickets. And I could get four for the price of two! Better yet, I could sit almost anywhere we wanted! We got tickets right behind Vancouver’s bench. I was a hero. And I had some money left over.
But it got me thinking: even though NHL hockey is back, and that’s a great thing, is supply and demand for Jets tickets just too much?
Let’s put this into perspective. When it comes to hockey, here are the big three (according to Forbes Magazine):
1) Toronto Maple Leafs — Avg Price: $368.60. The single most expensive ticket in the NHL this year.
2) Chicago Blackhawks — Avg Price: $313.18. This is the single most expensive ticket among the NHL’s American franchises.
3) Winnipeg Jets — Avg Price: $276.69 That’s if you can get them. The Jets’ ticket exchange rarely has any to sell, and online ticket sellers average $300-$500 for upper deck seats. And that’s DOWN!
Guess who had the most expensive ticket in the league last year? The Jets at $343.98.
Now I’m a Jets fan, and love the fact they’re back. I would much rather have the team in Manitoba and have outrageous ticket prices over the alternative, and that’s no team. I have and always will be a Jets fan. But what was truly amazing during this exercise was comparing the price of NHL tickets to Wheat Kings tickets.
Basically one good Jets ticket is the cost of a Wheat Kings season ticket — $425. And seniors and youth will pay much less. Is it time for the Wheaties to "take the gloves off" when it comes to its marketing for that hockey entertainment dollar?
I’ll just shoot the puck into their end on that one. As for the average price of a Minnesota Wild ticket, it’s $159 and they’re very easy to come by. We paid less than that and sat three rows behind the visitors bench. I love the Jets, but I love balancing my family budget too. But if I’m Mark Chipman, I’m thinking "this is a good problem to have" and I agree.
Yet I find I’m starting to lose interest in the Jets. Maybe it’s because they didn’t make the playoffs. Maybe it’s because I can’t get to a game. Or maybe it’s because I can’t watch the games on my local cable provider. Whatever the case, I don’t think they care, and business is business. Why should they?
But there are hockey fans who are loyal to teams other than the Jets. And to them I say: "Pack your bags, get some money exchanged and head south to St. Paul."
Not only was it affordable, but it was fun and fans didn’t accost you to the point you had to take off the opposition team’s jersey.
Remember the story of the Islanders fan who was allegedly bullied to the point he took his jersey off?
None of that in St. Paul. Sports fans travel to the Twin Cities for NFL football and Major League Baseball. Never thought about the NHL, but I do now. So if you’re looking for affordable NHL fun, want to sit in good seats without a second mortgage, and get up close to your favourite NHL players, they’ll welcome you with a smile in St. Paul.
JOKE THIS WEEK
A guy walks into the bar and sits down. Bartender says: "What can I get you?"
The guy says: "an Ovechkin".
The bartender says: "An Ovechkin? What's that?"
The guy says: "A White Russian. No ice. No cup."
Annette LeClair Williams
Taylor Skye Branconnier
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition April 5, 2014