Vancouver Canucks on track to maintain home sellout streak (updated)
Ticket prices rise for opener, but seats remain available
VANCOUVER - Frustrated Canuck fan Meredith Stevenson may have given up her season tickets in protest of the NHL lockout, but she appears to be in the minority.
The North Vancouver event planner who ended her 14-year subscription with the team in November said she’s not surprised to see other fans trickle back as ticket sales pick up in advance of Saturday’s home opener.
“I kind of expected it to be honest,” she said Wednesday. “People are excited to have (hockey) back, I’m excited to have it back, but as far as giving the NHL any more of my money, I’m not going to do it right now.”
Not so for other fans. Ticket sales for Saturday’s match against the Anaheim Ducks have been steadily growing, putting the team on track to add to its sellout streak of 407 consecutive home games, according to Victor de Bonis, COO of Canucks Sports & Entertainment.
“We don’t expect there to be any problems with respect to selling out,” he said, adding the organization has been racing to satisfy ticket holders on short notice since tickets went on sale at 2 p.m. Tuesday.
“In other seasons there’s lots of time, you set an on-sale date and everybody knows when it is and there’s an infrastructure ready to go,” he said.
This year’s compressed season and rapid-fire launch has de Bonis and his team struggling to accommodate customers who would normally benefit from presales — like group buyers and those on the season ticket waiting list — as well as the public.
“Under normal circumstances we go through all these different programs before we go on sale to the general public, we don’t have enough time to do that this year because we only have four days. So we’re trying to do these things at the same time.”
As a result, single game tickets for Saturday’s game will be released in batches right up until game day, he said.
Prices for the home opener on resale site Showtimetickets.com also indicate Saturday’s game will be a big draw. “That seems to be the most popular game of the season thus far, by quite a big margin,” said Showtime CEO and founder Mario Livich Wednesday.
The site, which connects ticket holders with potential buyers, shows prices for Saturday night’s game have gone up by 30 per cent over the last few days, suggesting an uptick in interest and a limited number of available tickets. Balcony seats are fetching between $100 and $150, about average for a home opener, Livich said.
“We’re seeing definitely more buyers than sellers for that game.”
But prices for followup games in the truncated season suggest there could still be some empty seats at Rogers Arena.
“That’s a stark contrast to the remainder of the season, which has been quite slow,” Livich said. “Fans are very tentative for the most part. You have so many season ticket holders who are stuck with their tickets; you don’t have a great schedule; you have no big-name eastern draws; you have so many games packed into such a short time; and season ticket holders don’t have a choice.”
As a result, Livich said balcony seats are selling for between $50 and $80 for regular-season games — about one third less than normal. And the deals could continue for the next month or so, depending on supply.
De Bonis said he couldn’t project attendance based on ticket sales as the Canucks won’t open its official channel for secondary sales until the season is off the ground.
“I don’t have a sense yet of the price on the secondary market,” he said, noting first run single-game tickets have only been released for the first four games of the season.
The Canucks are, however, offering some incentives as a thank you to patient fans who remained loyal through the lockout, he said. Home opener packs of three games are available at as much as 36 per cent off the regular season price.
“This is the first time we’ve ever offered a home opener first three games,” said de Bonis. “Just coming out of the worst of it we thought it would be a nice thing to do to welcome everybody back.”
He added myriad surprises would be in store to thank fans who attend games during the opening weekend, including a new fan-focused video, jersey, ticket and suite giveaways and a top-secret surprise during the national anthem.
All that, though, won’t be enough to lure back former season-ticket holder Stevenson, who plans to watch the Canucks from the comfort of her own home Saturday night, and likely every game night for the next two or three seasons.
“I’m still going to watch, I’m still a Canucks fan, I still love them, I’m just not going to be giving the NHL any of my money. In terms of merchandising, in terms of tickets, I’m out for the next couple of seasons I think.”
Plus, Stevenson added, there are some notable perks to watching at home: “It’s just as comfortable and the beer is cheaper, and that’s just fine with me.”
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