The Cost of Being A Hockey Fan

How much does it cost the average Nashville family to watch the Predators do... whatever it is they’re doing lately?

The folks at Team Marketing Report released their annual Fan Cost Index, with data on the NHL and its teams available to those with an account (note: you can create a free account for access to this information).  With the Nashville Predators declaring this season “The Year of the Fan”, these numbers deliver a mixed message when it comes to looking at the total value of attending a game at Bridgestone Arena—and not necessarily the one the team was hoping for following several early-season miscues and the downward trend of the product on the ice, last night's win notwithstanding.

The Fan Cost Index (FCI) aims to provide the approximate cost of a family of four to attend a regular-season hockey game, including costs for parking, souvenirs, concessions, and of course tickets.  Overall, the NHL shows an increase in average FCI at just +1.3%, with ticket costs raising by a slightly higher value of 2.9% league-wide.  This season’s average FCI is $424.62, with Nashville finishing barely higher at $425.74.  This is good enough to rank them 15th in total cost, which seems in line with the team’s emerging status as a former expansion team in a smaller hockey market.  However, the trends in pricing for Smashville fans may not seem as reasonable to the average fan.

Since last season, Nashville’s average FCI cost has risen by 6.2% - good (maybe good isn’t the right word) for second in the NHL behind only the Tampa Bay Lightning.  And in fact, this overall raise in cost is coming almost completely from one place: average ticket cost.  Nashville’s average cost per ticket rose 9.1% from last season—also second-highest in the league, nearly three percent higher than the Washington Capitals, the next highest team.

There are many possible reasons for this change. Nashville has made a number of investments to Bridgestone Arena over the last year or so, and this could be the main catalyst for increasing costs for a team that Forbes ranked 24th in the league this year in value, but which now has an operating income of –$11 million.  Colin Cudmore (@CudmoreColin on Twitter) produced an excellent visualization for the entire league on his Tableau site, which you should go check out here.

Nashville has seen a rise in team value and revenue in line with the NHL as a whole—this is to be expected—and you can see the sharp climb during the 2016-17 Stanley Cup Final season.  With growth, however, businesses must evaluate how to increase value over the long haul, with many teams opting to invest in facilities, contracts, etc., and Nashville appears to be no different.  While there isn’t publicly-available data as to what specifically has caused the two-year drop in operating income, improvements to Bridgestone Arena are likely chief among the reasons.  And with those investments comes a corresponding rise in costs to us, the paying customer.

It isn’t a surprise that the Nashville Predators—a team with recent success in a fast-growing market—are seeing costs and revenues skyrocketing.  And while the Nashville fan’s costs sit squarely at league average, the sudden increases and lackluster performance of the product on the ice may very well be cause for concern.

Below you will find a breakdown of Nashville’s individual costs—check out my interactive visualization here where you can compare to every team in the league.  After you do that, sound off in the poll below and let us know how you feel Nashville’s costs have affected you.

How do you feel about the cost for a fan and their family to attend a Nashville Predators game at Bridgestone Arena?

It is a great value!1
It is a great value, but I am worried about the rate at which costs are rising.5
The value is reasonable.10
The value is reasonable, but I am concerned with rising costs.66
The costs are too high, but this is the price of going to any hockey game.36
The costs are too high, and the rising costs have priced me out of attending as many games as I would like.114