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Volume 24 No. 113

Events and Attractions

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 (, 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).

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” (

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).

The Sharks are “expected to host an outdoor game in the Bay Area next season,” according to sources cited by Kevin Kurz of The venue “has not been decided,” but will either be AT&T Park in S.F. or Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto is “no longer thought to be among the options.” The Sharks’ opponent for the game also is “yet to be determined.” Kurz wrote AT&T Park would "probably be the better option for both the league and the Sharks," as it would "provide breathtaking visuals for a national broadcast much like NHL games at Wrigley Field and Fenway Park in the past." It could also "help the Sharks to grow the game" locally in the S.F. area, and "be easier to fill to capacity, as AT&T Park holds 41,503 fans as compared to the 68,500 seats at Levi’s Stadium." Meanwhile, the Capitals “will host” the ‘15 Winter Classic on Jan. 1 at a venue “yet to be officially named” (, 6/2). Sharks COO John Tortora yesterday said the team remains “in the running” to host an outdoor game in ’15. However, Tortora said that “nothing is official” (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 6/3).

Dover Int'l Speedway had "swaths of empty seats" for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks, continuing the "trend of declining attendance at the Delaware race," according to Jenna Fryer of the AP. Longtime observers called the crowd the smallest in years, something Dover Motorsports President & CEO Dennis McGlynn "seemed to hint was coming in the pre-race driver meeting." McGlynn told the drivers that fans "simply can't afford to attend races at Dover, and warned 'you're going to see some holes in the grandstands.'" Fryer reported McGlynn and his staff are "targeting a younger audience, trying to build a new generation of race fans, and offered kids 14 and under a $10 ticket on Sunday." McGlynn also "urged drivers to take a moment and pose for selfies with the new fans." NASCAR "desperately wants to appeal to East Coast fans, but it's a bloated market." There are "too many entertainment options already, and NASCAR is cramming in four Sprint Cup races from April 26 through Aug. 3 in one region." Some will "argue attendance doesn't matter because the tracks don't need attendance revenue like they did years ago." All tracks "receive a cut" of NASCAR's television package, and the deal that begins next year is worth $8.2B, so there is "plenty of wealth to trickle down to every facility." McGlynn said, ''It's a media-based revenue now, that's a fact. But I'm not sure that's a desire for us. We still want those people in the grandstands.'' Fryer noted empty seats "are ugly." They "look bad for the race track, bad to the sponsors and are bad for the health of NASCAR, regardless of the TV deal." There is "only one answer: blowing up the schedule" (AP, 6/2).

NCAA Associate Dir of Championships & Alliances Anthony Holman said that the body is considering "possible changes" to its men's lacrosse championship weekend, according to John Jiloty of INSIDE LACROSSE. Those changes include "lowering ticket prices, moving the NCAA Quarterfinals back on campus to higher seeds and looking into different dates and times for the event, the latter tying in with ESPN's continually advancing coverage of college lacrosse." The event "sits at an important crossroads, after the NCAA decided not to select the locations" of the '17-18 Final Fours last December. The event has seen attendance decline in each of the past seven seasons. Lincoln Financial Field will host the '15-16 events, and Holman said that the NCAA Men’s D-I Lacrosse Committee will meet in August to "determine whether changes should be made to the bid process," in advance of naming the '17-18 sites. Holman said that the NCAA "met with key 'stakeholders' on Sunday of championship weekend in Baltimore for three hours to discuss possible changes." Analysis of the event "falls in two categories: what can change" for '15-16 in Philadelphia and then the "more long-term changes that would start with this next bid cycle" for the '17-18 championship weekends. The NCAA is "going to lower prices" starting in '15. The cheapest all-session ticket for '15 is $50, and the NCAA "will also be offering a family-friendly $99 package for Saturday’s semifinal double-header" that includes four endzone tickets, four hot dogs, four drinks and parking. Venue size has "been another frequently mentioned component." The current minimum venue size is 40,000, and Holman said that the NCAA "could look into lowering that requirement." However, Holman said that due to the cost implications of double travel, it is "unlikely that the event will split so that the semifinals are one weekend and the finals the next" (, 6/2).