SBD/June 3, 2014/Events and Attractions

Stanley Cup Ticket Prices At MSG Are Sky High, Rivaling Super Bowl Get-In

Fans at MSG can expect to pay nearly 40% more than at Staples Center
The Rangers-Kings "big-market matchup" for the Stanley Cup Final "means a big premium on ticket prices," according to Jessica Golden of CNBC. TiqIQ data shows that Rangers fans "can expect to pay an average price of $2,424.64 for a seat" at MSG. Tickets are 38% cheaper for the Kings' home games, with "an average price of $1,506.06 per ticket." This year's Stanley Cup is "the most expensive series" since '09. Last year's Blackhawks-Bruins tickets "averaged $1,503.39." Merchandise sales are "seeing a huge uptick" in advance of the Final, as well. Online retailer Fanatics said that sales of Rangers gear have "spiked" 300% since the team advanced to the finals. Rangers G Henrik Lundqvist is "the top-selling NHL player over the past seven days." Sales of Kings merchandise are up an "astounding" 1,000% during the playoffs compared with '12 when they won the championship (CNBC.com, 6/2). USA TODAY's Hemal Jhaveri asks, "Why the huge discrepancy" in ticket prices between N.Y. and L.A.? As much as L.A. is "turning into a hockey town, it’s not there yet." Though the Kings "beat the Rangers in terms of overall attendance" throughout the '13-14 regular season, demand for seats in the relatively equal size MSG is "simply higher" (USA TODAY, 6/3). SeatGeek Communications Analyst Connor Gregoire said of demand for the games at MSG, "It's New York. There's a lot of well-to-do Rangers fans and a lot of well-to-do people in general who want to be there for the spectacle. You're going to have a lot more suits than hardcore, blue-collar Ranges fans" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 6/3). NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said, "Having the two largest markets in the United States competing for the greatest trophy ... and the fact that the hockey throughout the season and particularly these playoffs has been so compelling, there's a huge demand to get into our arenas" ("Squawk on the Street," CNBC, 6/3).

BIG CHANCE TO DRAW CASUAL FANS: REUTERS’ Steve Keating wrote the NHL will “have the Stanley Cup Finals it dreamed of” when the Rangers face the Kings. Not since the '81 Dodgers-Yankees World Series have N.Y. and L.A. “squared off for a major sporting championship.” Rangers-Kings is “sure to mean unprecedented exposure” for the NHL. Both MSG and Staples Center will “be packed with celebrity A-list hockey fans," but it is the "casual hockey fan the NHL will be focused on as the league seizes a chance to pull in new followers” (REUTERS, 6/2). In New Jersey, Andrew Gross writes when the Rangers won the ’94 Stanley Cup, it seemed everyone in N.Y. was “suddenly a huge hockey fan.” However, all that momentum "to grow the league was wasted when a lockout erased the first half” of the ’94-95 season. The NHL now “has a chance to ride the marketing momentum the Rangers’ appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals affords.” Rangers C Brad Richards: “It’s big for the league. I think it’s great for everything.” Rangers G Henrik Lundqvist: “It’s good for hockey in the New York area, no question about it. When people get excited about something, it creates interest in that” (Bergen RECORD, 6/3). ESPN’s Mike Greenberg said, “This feels like an opportunity for hockey in this country, that they haven’t had in awhile.” ESPN’s Mike Golic: “You do have the opportunity, with certainly some names and the two biggest markets. That’s the key here. You have absolutely the two biggest TV markets. It is a chance for hockey to grab the spotlight back again” (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 6/3).

SMALL FISH IN A BIG POND?
In Toronto, Kevin McGran writes the “marquee matchup of North America’s two biggest markets” in the Stanley Cup Final “ought to be marketing gold” for the NHL. While NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman “may have only allowed himself to dream of this kind of matchup, it does not pit the two biggest American hockey markets against each other, and that could be a factor in TV ratings.” Hockey is “often an afterthought” in both N.Y. and L.A., “not just lost in the shuffle of other leagues ... but in the grand scheme of things to do.” However, Z Sports & Entertainment Exec VP & Managing Dir Scott Becher said, “Regular-season followings are one thing. But championships bring in the peripheral fan. In order to grow a fan base, you need to have those championship opportunities to introduce -- or maybe reintroduce -- your sport to casual fans. That’s the impact for the NHL. Your hardcore fans are going to watch anyway. Now you’re going to have a lot of casual fans caught up in the emotion of what’s been a fantastic playoff run for both teams.” The “whole New York-L.A. thing” should “help the NHL in drawing casual fans.” The rest of America “has nothing in common with either, but has a fascination with both cities” (TORONTO STAR, 6/3). Pittsburgh’s KDKA-TV Sports Dir Bob Pompeani wrote on his Twitter feed: “NHL offices and Gary Bettman shout for joy #1 Market (NY) vs #2 Market (LA) in Finals.” NBC News Social & Digital Producer Stephanie Haberman: “NY vs LA. That sound you hear is the NHL front offices caroling in joy” (TWITTER.com).

DOLAN'S DAY? In N.Y., Richard Sandomir noted MSG Chair and Rangers Owner James Dolan is "just four victories from a championship he can call his own." If the Rangers win the Cup -- for the first time in 20 years -- it "will surely mean some adjustments in how Dolan is perceived." No longer "could he be viewed simply as a gravel-voiced, impetuous, publicity-averse boss who should have stuck to the cable television business." Sandomir: "Dolan would be -- get ready for it -- a champion. Who knows?" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/31).
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