Ladies and gentlemen, have I got a great idea for all of you. Imagine you have the opportunity to purchase a ticket to an exclusive event. An event that happens only 41 times from October to early April, more or less every year. It’s exciting, fast paced, and highly skilled. And for the price of admission, roughly $70-$100, you can sit back and enjoy it all. Except this time around, there’s a catch…
I’ll hide no facts and I’ll tell no lies. There’s a good chance your ticket will end up “as useless as that lemon-shaped rock over there”. Now, how many of these “Maybe” tickets would you like to purchase?
I don’t know about you, but if that sales pitch was on my front porch, I wouldn’t be able to close the door fast enough. Offering anything of value, which on any given day could be deemed worthless and unusable, is absurd.
I’m of course talking about the current situation all NHL franchises find themselves in, with the cloud of uncertainty looming in regards to a potential work stoppage/lockout. One could only assume that John Q. Public is still struggling in “this economy of ours” and isn’t willing to toss away his “hard earned dollars” on something that might prove to be garbage.
While recording the most recent episode of the Hawks Cast, we eventually reached this topic of discussion. I was shocked to hear that people purchased tickets to Chicago Blackhawks games when they went on sale Monday morning. Not just bought, but bought a lot of them. That isn’t to say I’m not optimistic about an agreement being reached. I am. But to hear how unhappy the fans are with the leagues current situation, along with constant reminders of the tough times our country is going through (which I don’t mean to trivialize), I was nearly floored.
Hawks ticket director Chris Werner in an interview with Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune, spoke at length of how all internet servers and phone lines had reached capacity and stayed that way on Monday. He also noted that the Hawks accomplishments in recent history have added a sense of urgency.
“The thing that has had a greater impact more than anything else is the last several years of sold-out games and people realize that the number of tickets is limited so they need to act early to get in,” Werner said.
He noted that a lot of games are left with standing room only and/or single seats spread across the United Center.
The Hawks have led the NHL in attendance for the past four years and have a string of 190 consecutive sellouts. Take into account that season ticket holders – according to Werner – are renewed at 99 percent with the waiting list growing to more than 11,000, Hawks fans clearly aren’t afraid of any labor disagreements ruining a chance to be at the Madhouse. It seems they’re afraid of being late to the party.
It’s a stressed time for the NHL owners and the NHLPA who face the possibility of a third work stoppage since the 1990’s.
Are the fans buying these tickets to say they’re not worried about it? They believe an agreement can be reached? They don’t care? If an agreement isn’t reached and their purchases become obsolete, will they then become angry?
It’s great to see them still supporting the franchise, regardless of who they may blame. However, as far as my optimism (and my wallet) goes, I’ll hold off until a victory against Columbus on Opening Night becomes reality.
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