Study: Blackhawks' Home Game Prices on Secondary Market Could Bode Well for Preds' "Keep the Red Out" Campaign

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 15: A sign which reads "Tonight's Game Sold Out" as fans stand outside the ticket window prior to Game Two of the NHL 2013 Stanley Cup Final between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Boston Bruins at United Center on June 15, 2013. - Jonathan Daniel

Online ticket reseller VividSeats, which recently became the Official Fan Travel Partner of the Detroit Red Wings, analyzed ticket price data across all 30 NHL teams on its platform on September 13, and found some interesting results. First, out of almost 10,000 tickets to Predators game currently being sold at Vivid, Nashville's median ticket price is $80, good for 19th out of 30 NHL teams' markets. Second, the $80 price tag is also 12th of 23 American teams' markets.

The Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks enjoy the most coveted ticket in the United States honors according to Vivid's analysis of tickets sold on its platform. According to the report, 23 of the top 30 games in the United States by median ticket price feature the Blackhawks, including two visits to the United Center by the Nashville Predators on March 14 and March 23 of next year. Of those 23 games, 21 will take place at the United Center. While we don't have Ticketmaster or StubHub data, or even the word on the street, this is superficially good news for the Predators, who announced earlier this year that they would require fans traveling from Chicago to see the Blackhawks play the Preds at Bridgestone Arena to purchase a ticket to an additional game, a sales scheme that is not without risk, and won't really build overall ticket grosses on the backs of visiting fans like the team hopes.

Here's an excerpt from my analysis of Nashville's "Keep the Red Out" plan from last month:

...this gimmick does nothing (or infinitesimally little) to build more corporate support for the Nashville Predators organization. I say "infinitesimally little" because the modern entertainment business model is built upon selling access to you and your eyeballs. Whether it's a high-traffic website charging nice premiums for digital real estate for banner ads (or access to its email lists), or twenty minutes of teasers and previews shown to a packed movie theater on a Friday night, organizations profit by selling advertising opportunities to third parties. Even if the Predators capture an increase in paid ticket sales to non-Blackhawks games this year as a result of this gimmick, that will amount to a paltry three games with increased paid sales, out of a possible 41 home games. Are the Predators kidding with this "we're going to build ticket grosses" off the backs of out of town fans, who may or may not pay for tickets to three stinking games? Look, every penny counts, no doubt, but will increasing paid attendance at less than 10% of your home games really matter to potential corporate partners or sponsors? Do the potential corporate partners and/or sponsors even care about whether or not the eyeballs at the game to whom they get an opportunity to market their widgets even paid to be there? Or do they just care that they're there, and that they (the sponsors) will get advertising opportunities?

I don't want to knock the Predators for trying to get creative in either their ticket sales or marketing strategies. I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, for now, and see how this pans out. My point is that the doubt here is pretty substantial, and while in-game promotion nights are developed over the course of a season, and the marketing department had to move pretty quickly following the announcement that the lockout had ended, a look back at last year's promotions calendar reveals a mere two corporate partners -- McDonald's and Taco Bell -- neither of which are headquartered in Nashville. Where is our Cracker Barrel Biscuit in the Basket night? Jack Daniel's No. 7th Man night? The Philadelphia Flyers were able to sign Shea Weber to a blockbuster offer sheet because that organization has the Comcast-Spectacor's fortunes as its tailwinds -- Comcast-Spectacor actually owns the team! The Predators' "lifeblood" might be made up of individual season ticket holders right now, and to some extent, because civic pride is part of the median Nashvillian's character, individuals will always buy tickets to Predators games in whatever packages the team serves up. To become a profitable venture, however, will require a much more concerted effort to bring corporate money in the door. This "Keep the Red Out" redux is likely to fail to contribute to that goal, so I'm not ready to pat them on the back for just trying something, any more than I'm ready to pat them on the back for overpaying for mediocre on-ice talent.

But on the whole, it's good news that tickets in Chicago are in such high demand. That could bode well for ticket sales of whatever games the Predators pair with Blackhawks game tickets when selling to traveling Chicago fans.

Predators Tickets - A Rising Market

We asked Vivid for some historical data, too, to show how, if at all, Preds ticket prices on their secondary market platform have changed over time. The median price for Preds tickets actually sold by Vivid last season was $57. The current median price for Preds tickets currently listed on Vivid's platform in 2013 is $80. That's a 40.35% jump over last season, which is interesting for a couple of reasons:

  • The Predators missed the playoffs last year for the first time since 2009, in a lockout-shortened season that saw comped tickets surge over previous years. The latter point is a reflection of decreased demand for Predators tickets, and the former could be a cause for future decreased demand. So to see an increase in list prices is noteworthy.
  • Now that we have the downer stuff out of the way, ticket sellers are counting on probably a few factors that would justify an increase in price. Those factors could (and probably) include the fact that Opening Night is approaching, and a drought of hockey coming to an end might make fans more excited to buy; the off-season free agent acquisitions of Matt Cullen, Viktor Stalberg, Matt Hendricks, and Eric Nystrom; the drafting of Real American Hero™ Seth Jones; the hiring of American hockey legend Phil Housley to the coaching staff; or possibly a nominal across-the-board increase in ticket prices by the Predators.
  • Finally, and I'm reaching a little here, this could be a sign that faith in Nashville as a legitimate hockey market is now officially a thing, that after a wash of a season and no playoffs, sellers are confident that buyers not only exist, but will pay more per ticket than they did last year. That notion is supported by the fact that despite the high number of comp tickets given away by the Predators last season, the average price per ticket sold soared by roughly 20%.

You can view the VividSeats reports in full below.

VividSeats Secondary Market Ticket Report 9/13/13 by stackiii

VividSeats Secondary Market Ticket Comparison 9/25/13

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