May 10th, 2012, 3:30 pm
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.