Two dudes blogging and podcasting about the San Jose Sharks, straight from sunny California.

post On Rising Ticket Prices

May 10th, 2012, 3:30 pm

Filed under: podcast — Written by Mike

I read this after we recorded the podcast yesterday, that the Sharks are raising ticket prices, but only for some.  If you sit on the end where the Sharks attack twice, you will pay more than those that sit at the other end of the arena.  Of course this will affect us- we are in the ‘best’ corner, facing the benches and the opposing goalie two out of three periods.

Let’s get one thing out of the way first- the reason ticket prices are raised is because the team believes the market will bear it.  The amount of winning the team does is a minor factor, if at all.  Although running a sports team isn’t exactly the same as running a business (read the great Malcolm Gladwell piece on it and try to ignore the fact that it’s about basketball), the owners are still trying to make money.  I’m sure they considered the public relations fallout, but I imagine the owners know that the price elasticity here is rather low.  In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if they have it calculated to the third decimal point.  This is the only major sports team in San Jose, and while this past season is disappointing, the team overall in the past decade has been very competitive.  The Sharks couldn’t raise the prices by 20% without fallout, but they probably could raise prices more than, say, the Stars, who are in a very competitive sports environment (with hockey probably a distant third or fourth) and not a stellar track record these past few years.

From a fairness perspectice, it’s certainly a supportable argument that the seats at the ‘good’ end are more desirable, and thus worth more.  The problem is who it affects the most.


Well, that’s true, but not really my point.  As is the case for most teams, the Sharks’ season ticket holders gain seniority the longer they hold their seats, and your appointment to choose new seats, should you choose to do so, is directly tied to your seniority score.  Thus, up until now, it was the most senior fans that had the seats in the best spots. Consequently, this new ticket pricing scheme is directly and disproportionately screwing the people who have held season tickets the longest.

This is not the best public relations strategy.  Many businesses realize that the most loyal customers are the customers that provide the bulk of the revenue to the business, and many times smart businesses make choices that reward repeat and loyal customers, even at the expense of newer or drive-by customers.  This is precisely the opposite of what the Sharks are doing.  I’m not sure what is worse- that the ownership group realized this and doesn’t care, or it didn’t occur to them that the most loyal fans are taking it in the teeth.

In essence, this is the Sharks:

I have yet to decide if I will or won’t.

12 Comments to “On Rising Ticket Prices”

  1. Tom says:

    I’ve decided. I’m out. My seats have gone up over 65% over the last five years. That’s ridiculous regardless the argument.

    • WingsFanInSharkLand says:

      I wonder how many people can say that their salary has increased by 65% in the last 5 years without a substantial promotion (read: Stanley Cup) and without a change of jobs? The way the economy has gone, I bet you couldn’t fill The Tank.

      I know it’s not closely tied to the team’s performance, but the fact is, that’s how the fans see it and they’re the ones who pay the bills. That perception does matter…. or at least it should.

    • Ruben says:

      Ticket prices after the lockout and a few years after were damn cheap. Now that the NHL is running pretty strong (equal to basketball as far as attendance) I am not surprised in the jump in prices over the past few years. I would imagine that, as the popularity stabilizes, ticket prices will stabilize as well.

  2. AGirlNamedBlake says:

    We’ve been talking all season about maybe not renewing for next year and spending at least some of the money on upgrading our home viewing experience with a new TV. We sit in 206 so this news made the decision a little bit easier.

  3. Ruben says:

    I have never been a season ticket holder (I just got my first “real” job two year ago and it is in Fresno) but if I lived in San Jose, season tickets would probably be my first major purchase after a house. So long as I could afford it, I would do it.

    Far be it for me to tell anyone else how to spend their money, but the calculus for me isn’t whether the Sharks’s policies are asking more from me than some guy who just uses Sharks games as a 2nd date spot or those people on those old commercials that didn’t know what icing was. Nor is it whether the team failed to meet expectations. Nor is it whether I agree with their signings or personnel decisions. It is simply a) how much can I responsibly spend on the team, and b) is the team trying to win (at least long term…. it has been tough to be an A’s fan for this reason as I am not sure if they are tanking out of spite to move to San Jose). If a ticket price raise took it out of affordability range, or I thought they were just trying to line pockets, that would be one thing. But for now, Im the kind of guy who gets to go to maybe two games a year and has to make a whole weekend out of it, so being a season ticket holder is still some magical thing for me 🙂

    • Tom says:

      Getting my season tickets back in 2006 was pretty magical… it was a dream for me. I don’t mind price increases, I understand the need for it sometimes. But, the way this organization is going about it and considering the “product” I can’t justify it anymore, as well as afford it.

      I know it supposedly isnt supposed to matter but it does. And to your point b, I’m not convinced they are as interested in winning as they have been in the past. Time will tell but of course I’ll always love the Sharks as long as they represent the Bay area!

      I’m going to be really sad this year when no tickets arrive at my door… 🙁

    • Mike says:

      I said to myself in college, “if I can get season tickets, I’m truly rich.” I’ve really been fortunate. Thanks for reminding me of that.

    • Nick says:

      I’m in the same boat with you Ruben, and hope to be a season ticket holder one day. Living in SF makes it hard enough to get to games so I know why yours must be weekenders. In the end, I never regret the money I spend on my tickets when I do make it, it’s a splurge, but if I had to multiply that out 42x I can definitely see how that would really put a pinch on people and make them wonder why the same thing last year is worth so much more this year.

  4. i'll do it live F*** IT says:

    i’ve had the cheapest seats the last two years (finagled b/c a friend of a friend was giving them up so I coordinated with sharks office). I’ve seen them go from $18 to $23 and now to $25 (i think). Last year I had to sell almost every game, so I actually profited on the season a few bucks. I went to about 10 games, but would sell my seats and went and sat club level b/c friends’ work provided tix or **** it we just wanted to splurge and make it a special night feeling fancy.

    All the money from last year’s proceeds is sitting in paypal, and so I guess I will renew but I’m not all that excited about the Sharks’ product on the ice. The story is getting old.

  5. Tom says:

    Interesting thing I heard today on Toronto radio… They were talking about how the Sharks organization loses a lot of money when they don’t go deep in the playoffs. They said from their perspective its directly due to the low ticket prices and if we don’t go deep they just don’t end up in the black. 

    So it begs the question, are we literally paying for the failures of this team? I get supply and demand but I can’t believe there will continue to be that same demand if the Sharks enter a larger slide. So if the organization continues to raise the prices, consequences  be damned, doesn’t that in itself signal a change in the organization?

    Like I’ve said before, I love this team, but I’m very concerned about the direction the organization is headed. I’ve never agreed with or understood the thought that professional sports teams are something the very wealthy should invest in and expect to make money. Outside of a few geographical locations and specific unusual situations do we ever see any team both win AND make the owners money. I grow concerned we’re going to be doing more of the second at the direct expense of the first. 

    • Haie says:

      That’s very interesting. I think that pro franchises that are in a decent market and have the capacity to compete for a division/league title every year have a plan in place whereby you lose some money en route to trying to win a championship, but when you finally do get over the hump, you endure yourself to the market well enough to justify raising prices and making good money. The sharks ownership group probably has the expectation that we would have at least gone to the Stanley Cup Finals by now, and could start to reap the rewards. Since they haven’t, that leaves the organization in an awkward position where they need to make back some money, but don’t have the justification they have invested in.

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