Season ticket holders to Sabres: “Thank you sir, may I have another”
by Andrew Kulyk (@akulykUSRT) - posted 5:01 pm, April 30, 2015
Back in 2011 when Sabres owner Terry Pegula took the helm of his franchise, he famously announced no intention to raise ticket prices, telling his ticket buying public that if he needs to raise revenue he would go out and drill another oil well.
Perhaps the past year’s drop in oil prices and collapse in the hydraulic fracturing market has changed Pegula’s thinking, for the Buffalo Sabres today announced yet another price increase for season tickets, in the works for the 2015-2016 season. This is the reward for two years of watching hideous hockey and suffering through the worst performances of the team in franchise history.
The team made no formal announcement to the public or press release to the media, but instead delivered the grim news via mail to their season ticket holders. Contained in the packet is a letter from Sabres Vice President John Sinclair explaining season ticket holder benefits, a price chart, invoice, and a glossy 16 page brochure outlining “The Next Chapter” in the rebuild of the team.
A cost/benefit analysis of the pricing structure offers the following:
-Ticket prices go up as much as $5 for the priciest club seats ($107 to $112) to as low as $1 for the 300 level end zones ($27 to $28). Other increases are from $2-$4 per ticket depending on the location.
-The boosting of the Sabrebucks rebate from 2.5% to 6.5% as a reward for early renewal last season was apparently a one year wonder. Season ticket holders will receive only 2.5% in rebates.
-The cost for the mandatory purchase of 3 preseason games will also cost more, with most tickets going up by $2.
-Season ticket holders will receive tickets to the CCM/USA Prospects game and a Rochester Americans AHL game at First Niagara Center at no additional cost.
-To replace the loss of the 4% supplemental Sabrebucks incentive, the team will provide a bonus of 500 Sabres Advantage Points to anyone holding such an account. Advantage Points is a mobile app where ticket holders can scan tickets or food receipts to collect points to be redeemed for merchandise.To monetize the value of 500 points, that gets you 1/3 of the way to obtaining a t-shirt or hat.
The Sabres have capped season ticket sales at 16,000, and the overall season ticket pricing is roughly 40% less than window prices which single ticket buyers pay. Despite the increase, prices in Buffalo are still a bargain compared to some NHL peer cities.
Sabres fans can only hope that oil prices rebound and that the closed wells in the Marcellus Shale and Bakken fields reopen. That might translate into the first year of no ticket price increases in the Pegula Era come 2016-2017.