Thursday, July 28, 2005

Season Ticket Holders Cost Uncertainty

While many NHL teams are slashing their ticket prices to entice fans back to the game, the Canucks have yet to follow suit. Dave Nonis has said time and time again that the team would first see what their operating costs would look like this season.

Fact: The Canucks' payroll last season was approximate $44 million. This season it would be no more than $39 million.

Fact: The Canucks have 17,000 season tickets (and equivalents) sold, plus at least another 1,500 on the waiting list. In the first week since the lockout was lifted, the team has even announced that they have increased their waiting list by 50%.

The team certainly hasn't lost momentum at the box office, and should keep $5 million in the bank because of the salary cap. And while I understand that yes, this market obviously supports the current ticket prices, shouldn't the team be rewarding their fans for sticking with them through the year-long lockout? In my humble opinion, they are at least in a similar, if not better, financial position as last season and can certainly afford it.

The Canucks are considered contenders, and with a few upgrades, should have a legitimate chance at winning the Stanley Cup. However, if Markus Naslund doesn't re-sign or if Todd Bertuzzi requests a trade, then what direction does the team go? Do they blow it up this year and bring in King, Kesler, Bouck and Goren for more full-time NHL duty? Or do they simply reload by signing from the potential pool of hundreds of available free agents? But if Naslund and Bertuzzi are gone, can the Canucks still convince top-flight free agents to come to Vancouver?

There are more uncertainties surrounding this team's roster now than there have been in the recent years. In the best case scenario, the Canucks re-sign Naslund, keep Bertuzzi, sign Forsberg and Niedermayer, etc... and the team won't need to justify keeping ticket prices at their current levels. But in the worst-case scenario, the Canucks may start the season with Morrison, Cooke, Sedin, Sedin and King as their top forwards... in which case the team may well have to lower ticket prices to avoid the flood of cancellations and keep their season ticket base.

Maybe this is what Nonis - and season ticket holders - are waiting to see.
posted by J.J. Guerrero, 9:21 PM


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