NHL FCI 2013
Jon Greenberg, February 11, 2013
The previous time the National Hockey League instituted a lockout, the league gave up an entire season and when it returned, prices dropped significantly across the league.
This lockout resulted in a 3 1/2 month delay in the season and ticket prices went up across the league, resulting in a 5.7 percent increase in the average season ticket to $61.01, according to Team Marketing Report's 2013 Fan Cost Index TM.
The Fan Cost Index (TM) average, the price to take a family of
four to a game, is $354.82, a 7.9 percent increase from last
The exclusive Fan Cost Index gives a representative look at
the cost of taking a family of four to a hockey game.
The FCI comprises the price of four general (not premium)
season tickets, two small draft beers, four small soft drinks, four regular-sized hot dogs, parking for one car, two game programs and two adult-sized caps.
Premium tickets (club seats or tickets with extra amenities as determined by the individual teams) are listed in a separate category.
Season ticket packages went out as normal as the league expected a lengthy lockout, and many teams offered fans, specifically season ticket holders, deals on merchandise and
concessions once the schedule began in January.
Still, the average ticket price has gone up about 50 percent
since the sport's last lockout.
In 2005, after the league took a year off due to labor strife, the average season ticket went down 7.5 percent to $41.19 and 22 teams showed decreases according to Team Marketing Report's 2005 NHL FCI. (The lost 2004-05 season had an FCI as well, and showed a 0.3 percent increase from the previous season.)
This season, as the league hurries through a 48-game season, 19 teams showed increases of more than 1 percent and only three teams showed decreases.
Nine teams showed double-digit percentage increases, led by the Buffalo Sabres' 26.7 percent increase to $46.15, which is still the seventh-lowest price.
Part of the league's overall confidence in retaining customers is due to the booming popularity of the sport. Last season, ticket prices were up 5.4 percent (only two teams showed decreases) and that was coming off a 4.4 percent increase the season before.
Attendance went up 1.8 percent last season and early results from the 2013 season are overwhelmingly positive. Of course, season ticket owners are paying less for their packages with only 24 home games and no preseason games.
This isn't the biggest increase in NHL labor stoppage history, however. The 1994-95 NHL season also played a 48-game schedule, starting in mid-January, and the average ticket price went up 13.6 percent to $33.66. The following season, prices went up another 6.2 percent.
In recent years, other leagues were more conservative with price increases following a lockout, or a threatened lockout in the case of the NFL in 2011. The NFL only had a 1.1 percentage increase in 2011 ($77.36), with 19 teams either keeping prices flat or raising them less than one percent.
Last season, the NBA lost 16 games and as a league only raised prices by an average of 1.7 percent ($48.48).
In 1995, Major League Baseball teams only raised ticket prices by 1.6 percent following the players' strike, the lowest percentage increase in FCI history at that point, to $10.65.
Last year's Stanley Cup champions, the Los Angeles Kings, had an 18.2 percent increase to $61.36.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are one of the few teams to keep prices stagnant, but they are still easily the most-expensive ticket at $124.69 (all prices are in U.S. dollars), and have the most expensive Fan Cost Index price at $631.15.
The Winnipeg Jets have the second-highest price, according to TMR research, at $97.84, while the Canucks were third at $87.38.
The cheapest average NHL ticket belongs to the Dallas Stars at $36.09, a 1.2 percent increase from last season.
The Phoenix Coyotes have the cheapest FCI total at $253.80. The Coyotes, who are currently looking for a new owner, were last in attendance in two of the previous three seasons.
The average beer is up to $7.07, just one cent cheaper than the average NBA beer, according to the 2012-13 NBA FCI.
Many teams have fully embraced the all-you-can-eat premium club/seat model. In Ottawa, for example, there are two food-inclusive programs, according to Chris Atack, sales manager for the team, the Dodge Club and The Ledge.
The Dodge Club has a $100 (CDN) net price,
with $35 going toward "a high-end buffet meal." The Ledge is a cheaper option at $63, with $20 going to a pregame
sandwich and salad buffet.