SBD/May 15, 2017/Franchises

Sabres Increase Season-Ticket Prices Again Despite Missing Playoffs For Sixth Straight Year

Season-ticket holders will get 2.5% of costs back in the form of SabreBucks
The Sabres have not made the Stanley Cup Playoffs since '10-11, but the team once again has "increased its season-ticket prices" for the '17-18 season, and costs are going up about 4% across the board, according to John Vogl of the BUFFALO NEWS. The largest increase of 4.3% is in the 200 Club and 100 Level II. The seats in 200 Club, the "priciest in KeyBank Center, are rising from $116 to $121 per game." Fans in 100 Level II will see a "bounce to $73 per game from last season’s $70 ticket." The per-game "increases are $1 to $5 per seat." Packages "range from $1,245 to $4,942 per seat." This year’s package "includes 40 regular-season games instead of 41" because the Sabres’ Winter Classic appearance against the Rangers on Jan. 1 at Citi Field counts as a home game. Season-ticket holders "will have a presale opportunity at a later date for the outdoor game." As usual, season-ticket holders will get 2.5% of their costs "back in the form of a SabreBucks card." It can be "used at the Sabres Store and concession stands, or it can go toward the purchase of a game ticket." The cost of tickets has "skyrocketed" since co-Owner Terry Pegula purchased the Sabres in '11. Ticket prices have jumped as much as 47.1% (BUFFALO NEWS, 5/13). In Buffalo, James Fink noted rising costs, including a "leaguewide salary cap" that is expected to exceed $73M, prompted the Sabres to increase the season-ticket prices (BIZJOURNALS.com, 5/13).

NOT SHOCKING: In Buffalo, Mike Harrington writes fans "shouldn't be surprised the Sabres are raising prices on season tickets yet again, keeping the Pegulas' streak alive of an increase every year since they took over the owners' box." The "lack of respect for the customer continues." For a team that has "won absolutely nothing since Pegula hit town" in '11, "hitting the wallets of the best customers again is a bit much." The problem "comes in perception." The Sabres' price hikes are done to "qualify for the league's revenue sharing program." There has "undoubtedly been pressure" on Pegula over the years to get prices "more in line with other markets in the league." Still, several teams have "held the line on prices for a year in recent seasons and there's no excuse for the Sabres not to do likewise at least once" (BUFFALO NEWS, 5/15).

TURNING THE TIDE: While the Sabres have missed the playoffs six straight seasons, the Bills have not qualified for the postseason since '99. New Bills GM Brandon Beane said, "We feel bad for the city of Buffalo. These fans have had to endure a 17-year deal, but we’re focused on being part of the solution with the whole organization to get it right." He added, "We know how important it is to trust each other. It’s so funny when people ask, Who’s got control? Who has the 53-man roster? Honestly, we don’t care about it. We are going to make decisions together and we are going to talk about everything that affects the roster, the staff, and that is what’s exciting" (MMQB.SI.com, 5/15). In Buffalo, Tim Graham wrote the hiring of Beane and new Sabres GM Jason Botterill last week indicate Pegula Sports & Entertainment is "discovering its center." The Pegulas have "hired enough headline-grabbers to run their clubs," but they have "paid most of them not to work there anymore." Botterill and Beane are "smart, secure and sharp." Graham: "They strike me as men who will insist on being privy, won't feel the need to repeatedly insist they're straight shooters" (BUFFALO NEWS, 5/14). Also in Buffalo, Bucky Gleason wrote the hiring of both GMs was a "step toward stability, which had been lacking in both organizations for years." Now that Pegula has people he "trusts in place, he can get back to the business of getting out of the way and allowing the people he hired to do their jobs" (BUFFALO NEWS, 5/13).
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