There is nerve. There is gall. And then there is the Arizona Coyotes’ ticket-pricing range for the next NHL regular season.
The Coyotes announced Thursday their ticket prices for the 2022-23 campaign, which they’ll play their home games at the 5,000-capacity Arizona State University. Single-game pricing has yet to be revealed, but Coyotes ownership probably didn’t want to make matters worse than they had to be. It’s tough enough hearing the prices for fans who have enough money to purchase full-season season tickets and seats for half the season; those fans who can’t afford season tickets are likely to be even more irate when they’re confronted with single-game prices.
Here’s why: the Coyotes will have seven pricing levels next year. The highest price per ticket, if you pay for a full 41 games, works out to $300 for each and every game (and that’s before separate ticket fees). If you pay for a half-season’s worth of tickets in the best seats, the price works out to $445 per seat, per game. For the cheapest seats, you’ll pay $89 per game, but that’s only if you pay for full-season tickets. If you pay for a half-season’s worth of games, the price per ticket is $110 per game. By comparison, this season, the least-expensive ticket will run you $54.50 per game.
I’m going to let you fully digest that for a couple of minutes. The worst team in the league right now, and very likely, the worst team in the league by season’s end, is more or less doubling their ticket prices next year. I don’t care how “intimate” the viewing experience will be. That’s just outrageous on a scale that should trigger citywide protests.
It would be one thing if the Coyotes were asking fans to pony up to see a team that’s going to be good next season. Arizona almost certainly will be sub-par, and that’s putting it charitably. No, the rebuilding-for-the-thousandth-time Coyotes are almost assuredly going to be brutal once again. Even the expansion Seattle Kraken could be better than Arizona will be. And for this, they’re going to their fan base and trying to convince them their new pricing plan is in consumers’ best interests because there will be far fewer fans in the arena? If this is true, why aren’t all NHL teams playing in front of, in some cases, only one-quarter of the fans who attend their games now?
This is transparently ridiculous. Some of us are old enough to remember a time when the $100-dollar-per-ticket plateau was too much to ask, even for reunited legendary rock bands like The Eagles or Fleetwood Mac. Now, we’re asking hockey fans to pay more than that – 41 times per year – for a product that has no guarantee to be a pleasant experience? In whose fantasy world does this make sense?
The Coyotes’ ticket-pricing choices aren’t going to lead to full houses at the ASU arena. They’re going to be exclusionary in nature, and the growth of the game in Arizona is going to suffer for it. Hockey has a well-earned reputation of being an elitist sport. Now imagine if you’re a young person or family of modest means who loves the game; how maddening is it to see the Coyotes ask you to pay at least $200 for two family members to watch the NHL in person?
The answer: very maddening. Next season, when large swaths of seats remain unoccupied in the Coyotes’ new rink, what will be the excuse from the league and team owners who are OK with this financial money pit in the Arizona desert?
There will be no legitimate excuse. What we’re seeing with the Coyotes is avarice, plain and simple. And their long-suffering hockey fans deserve much better than a naked money grab.