Author Archives: Mike Holden

Buying Blackhawks-Caps 2015 Winter Classic tickets via the secondary market

Those looking to buy 2015 Winter Classic tickets through resellers like StubHub or NHL TicketExchange should focus on two things right now if they’re wondering how much they might have to pay for tickets:

  1. Where the game will be held: The venue for this game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the host Washington Capitals has not been determined but, when it comes to ticket prices, a football stadium would be preferable over a baseball stadium. As you’ll see below in data from SeatGeek, this often results in lower secondary market ticket prices since the football stadiums have a larger seating capacity. 

  2. When to buy tickets: Based on previous Winter Classics, the key to buying tickets through the secondary marketing will be to wait. History shows that if you can wait until just under a week before the Winter Classic to buy your tickets, you’ll likely pay less for them.

Here’s some data and insight from Jason Weingold at SeatGeek that dives deeper on this:

  • “The Washington Capitals will be participating in the Winter Classic for the second time, and will be hosting the game for the first time. While the location is yet to be announced, prevailing speculation says that the game will take place at Nationals Park over FedEx Field, which does not bode well for fans hoping to score cheap tickets. Nationals Park can hold 41,418 fans — less than half of FedEx Field’s capacity of 85,000 – which means there would be less supply and higher prices on the resale market. For the last Winter Classic held at a baseball stadium (Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia in 2012), the average price paid for a seat on the secondary market was $471, nearly double the combined average ticket price of the 2011 and 2014 games held at football stadiums ($245). [Author's note: See the next bullet point from SeatGeek for how last year's game in Michigan had a big effect on this].”
  • “An average ticket for the 2011 Winter Classic featuring the Penguins and Capitals at Heinz Field (capacity of 68,111) cost fans an average of $409 on the secondary market, and there were a total of about 11,000 tickets resold. The 2012 game pit the Rangers against the Flyers at Citizens Bank Park (seats 46,967) in Philadelphia, and the average price of a ticket rose 15% to $471; there were also more tickets resold — an estimated total of 13,000. The next Winter Classic in 2014 featured a long-anticipated matchup between the Red Wings and Maple Leafs at the Big House, Michigan Stadium, which welcomed a record 105,491 fans, and that increased supply of tickets (an estimated 24,000 were resold on secondary markets) brought the average resale price down to $172 per seat.”
  • “The NHL has also experimented with other outdoor games in the past. The 2013-2014 season featured five other outdoor games: the Heritage Classic in Canada and four games in the United States collectively called the “Stadium Series.” The first Stadium Series game took place at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles, where the average ticket cost $190. The Rangers then played twice at Yankee Stadium — first against the Devils (average ticket price of $231) and second against the Islanders ($141). The fourth game was between the Penguins and Blackhawks at Soldier Field in Chicago (average ticket price of $248). The 2011 Heritage Classic featured the Flames and Canadiens at McMahon Stadium in Calgary (average ticket price of $253), and the 2014 game set the Canucks against the Senators at BC Place in Vancouver (average ticket price of $153).”
  • “The 2015 Winter Classic should end up being a record-breaking home game for the Capitals in terms of demand. Since 2010, the most in-demand regular season home game for the Caps was on Feb. 6, 2011 against Pittsburgh, when fans spent an average of $166 per ticket on the secondary market. Even in the playoffs, the highest average ticket price we’ve recorded for a Caps game at the Verizon Center is $221 for Game 4 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Rangers.”
  • “The Capitals have only hosted the Blackhawks once since we began collecting pricing data, and that came on April 11 earlier this year. The average ticket to that game at the Verizon Center cost $122 on the resale market.”
  • “By taking a look at pricing trends for the past three Winter Classic games, we’ve found that the best time to buy a ticket has been a little less than a week before the game. In 2011, the average ticket price bottomed out at $343 five days before the game, having fallen 24% in 17 days from a peak of $450. Prices for the 2012 game followed a similar pattern, dipping to a low of $391 six days before the drop of the puck (down 22% from $500 with two weeks to go before the game). Last season, the average price fell continuously throughout December, dropping 57% from $239 with 30 days to go before the game to just $103 per ticket the night before.”

Thanks to Jason and SeatGeek for pulling that all together. They also provided the chart below, which illustrates how waiting until just under a week before the game is often the best approach for finding the lowest secondary ticket market prices for a Winter Classic.

 
Winter Classic resale ticket prices
 

Kid who inspired the name BrooksLaichyear scores his first goal

My son provided the inspiration for the name of this blog. As mentioned in the first post I wrote here in 2012, “my hockey-crazy three-year-old son is under the impression that number 21 for the Caps and Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story share the same last name: Laichyear. It cracked me up the first time he mentioned the name “Brooks Laichyear” while telling me a story about a Caps game. And [my brother] Pat and I filed it away as what we’d name our Caps blog if we ever started one. ”

He’s six now and played his first hockey game Saturday. Below is the video of his first goal.

And you may have noticed there hasn’t been any blogging happening on BrooksLaichyear for the past few months. My brother is busy with his last year of grad school and I started a new job in the fall, plus my wife and I just welcomed our fourth baby into the world. But here’s one of those kids scoring his first ice hockey goal.

Caps play-by-play man John Walton: “Thug hockey back” in Philly; Calls Flyers goalie Ray Emery’s actions “a disgrace” and worthy of NHL suspension

From Washington Capitals radio play-by-play man John Walton’s call of the Ray Emery-Braden Holtby incident last night (Listen to it on Walton’s blog through the link below):

“Emery takes him down. Oh my goodness. You’ve gotta be kidding me. Ray Emery sucker punching Holtby. He’s still punching him. The referee hasn’t stopped it yet. Oh what a dirty play by Ray Emery. Taking Braden Holtby down. Thug hockey back in town. You’re losing by a touchdown and you just grab a sweater. If you think that’s gonna get you standings points, think again. The Buffalo Sabres are the only thing saving this team from being the bottom of the Eastern Conference and now they’ve taken it to the alley in the dirtiest way possible. Ray Emery went after Holtby. Holtby did not want it. He absolutely didn’t want to fight him. And Emery sucker punched him six times. It’s the only cheer you’re gonna hear out of this building tonight. That’s a disgrace. Ray Emery, a disgrace what he just did.”

“Suspend that guy. Suspend him right now,” Walton went on to say regarding Emery.

full audio clip of Walton calling the Emery-Holtby goalie altercation is available on his Capitals Voice blog.

And here’s a great shot of Michael Latta being waved off during the fight by referee François St-Laurent:

Low secondary market prices for upcoming, not-yet-sold-out Penguins-Caps game; NHL resale prices up overall

Washington Capitals tickets on secondary market sites like StubHub and NHL Ticket Exchange have been selling at their lowest average prices since the 2010-11 season (10/8/13) and the team’s upcoming November 20 game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, while one of the higher priced Caps home games on the resale market, is no exception.

“We’re seeing an average ticket price of $120 for that game, which is the lowest for a Caps-Penguins game in D.C. since we began tracking data on the NHL resale market [in 2010],” wrote Connor Gregoire, Communications Analyst with ticket search engine SeatGeek, in an October 22 email. “The average resale price in the 400 level for that game is $71 per ticket.”

Average Resale Price for Pittsburgh at Washington since 2010
for tickets overall and 400 Level tickets (Source: SeatGeek)

Date Avg Price 400 Level Avg
2/6/2011 $166 $117
12/23/2010 $159 $112
1/11/2012 $146 $100
2/3/2013 $138 $95
12/1/2011 $138 $93
3/24/2010 $126 $81
2/7/2010 $121 $75
11/20/2013 $120 $71

The November 20 match-up against Pittsburgh is not yet sold out. Tickets remain available through TicketMaster, starting at $84 in the 400 Level of Verizon Center. The lowest priced tickets for sale to this game on the secondary market as of this posting are a pair for $63 each in section 431, Row G on the NHL Ticket Exchange.

Overall, average NHL resale prices are on the rise. Gregoire explained, “We’ve actually seen a 10 percent uptick in the average ticket price across the league through this point in the season as compared to the lockout-shortened year. The average resale price across the NHL is $89 per ticket so far this season compared to $81 through as many games last season. In the 2011-12 season, tickets sold for $87 each on average through this point in the year, so it appears that we’re seeing a recovery in demand for tickets in 2013-14 after the lockout.”

Washington has been promoting value-added ticket deals via email for some games in recent weeks, including Ticket-Food-Drink packages starting at $59 per ticket and another offering two upper level seats and a signed puck for $99. The November 20 game against Pittsburgh is not listed as part of either offer.

The team also continues to promote “Fan Packs” for some games, offering two tickets for $69. But that deal doesn’t make much sense for customers, considering seats to those games are available at far cheaper prices in the same sections of Verizon Center via the secondary ticket market, including NHL Ticket Exchange, which the Caps also promote via email (“Sorry Caps, but this is bad marketing,” 10/7/13).

The Caps did not respond to a request to comment for this story.

TONIGHT! Win this Caps prize basket and help raise money to find a cure for Parkinson’s disease

IMG_1814This is a cause that has special meaning to the two of us that started this blog…

Come win this Caps prize basket—which includes an autographed Troy Brouwer picture (thanks to the Caps for donating that!), four bobbleheads, a Caps scarf, blanket and more—and help raise money for the Michael J. Fox Foundation and Parkinson’s research.

Since being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2011, our mother has been working tirelessly to raise money for TEAM FOX, to help the Michael J. Fox Foundation in their efforts to help find a cure. In just her first year doing this, she raised nearly $8,000 through events like the one tonight in Baltimore.

Please join us for this fundraiser as we help her continue to raise funds for the cause:

TONIGHT!
Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 5 pm

Our Lady of Victory School
4416 Wilkens Avenue
Baltimore, Maryland 21229

The cost is $20 and tickets are available at the door. There will be 18 regular bingo games plus three special games. Prizes are bags (Vera Bradley, Coach and 31) & baskets (Longaberger) filled with a theme of goods & services.

There will also be various raffles at the event, including a 50/50, and food & drinks will be available for purchase, with those proceeds going to the cause as well. Door open at 4 pm and games start at 5 pm. If you can’t make the event but would still like to make a donation, you can do that here.

IMG_1815

Here’s where Tom Wilson and Connor Carrick played juniors last season

While in Detroit this past week, I took a side trip to one of my favorite craft brewers, Bell’s Brewing in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and then stopped by the home of the Plymouth Whalers on the drive back to the city.

Plymouth is where Michal Neuvirth won an OHL championship in 2007 and where Caps rookies Tom Wilson and Connor Carrick (recently assigned to the Hershey Bears) played junior hockey. Former Cap Pat Peake’s jersey is hanging from the rafters as well.

I snapped a few pictures:

Home of the OHL Plymouth Whalers

end rink

champs

Program advertisement that includes Connor Carrick

pat peake

And here’s Mike Ribeiro (63) in a Coyotes jersey during the Phoenix-Detroit game at Joe Louis Arena the night before. We were able to grab seats 11 rows from the ice for $39 (face value of $110) through StubHub. Not a bad secondary ticket market bargain!

IMG_1731

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Washington Capitals hockey tickets at lowest average resale prices since 2010

Prices for Washington Capitals tickets on the secondary market, the term used for platforms such as StubHub or Ticket Exchange where individuals can resell seats to sports and other events, have seemed extremely low as the 2013-14 hockey season has gotten underway. It turns out, prices are the lowest they’ve been since 2010.

An analyst with SeatGeek, a ticket search engine that looks at “dozens of the biggest ticket sites and present the results all in one place,” was kind enough to put together some numbers for me on secondary market prices for Caps tickets. They have data going back to the start of the 2010-11 season and it shows just how low prices currently are.

From SeatGeek:

  • Two of the Capitals’ next three home games — Thursday against Carolina ($37 average resale price) and next Monday against Edmonton ($38 average resale price) — are the two cheapest Caps regular season home games since the start of the 2010-11 season. In fact, only one other game — an October 13, 2010 matchup against the Islanders ($39 average resale price) — has drawn an average resale price under $40 in that span.

To put that in perspective, for that October 13, 2010 game against the Islanders, which was the last time the average resale price for Caps tickets was this low, Tomas Fleischmann was on the team, DJ King was in the line-up for the first time as a Capital, and Matt Bradley, though scratched due to an injury, was still with Washington.

Another stat from SeatGeek:

  • The average resale price in the 400 level is $40 or less for each of the Caps’ first 11 home games of the season, including last Thursday’s home opener against Calgary. That’s by far the longest such stretch since the start of the 2010-11 season; in that time, we’ve never seen more than three consecutive Caps home games with an average 400-level resale price of $40 or less. For the Carolina and Edmonton games, 400-level seats are reselling at an average of just $18 per ticket.

And one final SeatGeek point:

  • The secondary market for Capitals tickets as a whole is down considerably this season. Washington currently ranks 21st out of 30 teams in overall average resale price at $73 per ticket, falling from 14th at $90 per ticket last season; that’s a 19 percent dip in average resale price. In the 2011-12 campaign, the Caps ranked 15th at $101 per ticket, and in 2010-11 they were 12th at $90 per ticket.

It’s a great time to be a buyer, Caps fans.

Sorry Caps, but this is bad marketing

Caps fan packs

On Friday I got the above email from the Caps, offering two 400 Level tickets for $69 to either the October 10 game against the Hurricanes or October 14 versus the Oilers. That’s $34.50 per ticket for seats that cost $51 at full price, which might seem like a pretty good deal at first glance.

But if you visit the TicketMaster website to buy those Fan Packs from the Caps and then click on the “Resale” tab instead, you’ll find that upper level seats to those games can currently be purchased for as low as $11 through the NHL Ticket Exchange, which the Caps have promoted by email, as recently as a week ago, as a place to “buy or sell worry-free.” Seats for October 10 and October 14 are plentiful there, with over 2,000 available to each game.

Hurricanes Ticket ExchangeOilers Ticket Exchange

When I can buy tickets in the same sections of the arena for close to 70% less through the “Verified by TicketMaster” NHL Ticket Exchange, a platform that is accessible from the Caps’ website, why would I take advantage of a $34.50 sales offer from the team? The Caps are promoting a Fan Pack that is nothing more than two seats together at a discounted price that can be had for far less money just a couple of NHL-approved clicks away.

If the Caps want people to buy their remaining 400 Level inventory for these two games, they’re going to need to do better than this. Dropping their prices down to the levels of the resale market wouldn’t make much sense, but they could add more value to the Fan Packs. For example, they could throw in food and drink vouchers or add something unique to this promotion that a fan can’t get anywhere else, giving people a reason to want the team’s offer more than the far cheaper options available through resellers.

Otherwise, the Caps will have to count on some fans buying these Fan Packs because they’re unaware of options like the NHL Ticket Exchange. And depending on your customers being uninformed doesn’t strike me as a great marketing practice.

Caps email: “Limited Tickets Available for Caps Home Opener” — Secondary market has far better options though

The Caps sent out an email this morning titled “Limited Tickets Available for Caps Home Opener.” That’s true, there are still some tickets available via TicketMaster for the team’s Thursday, October 3 match-up against the Calgary Flames. And those aren’t just scattered singles. You can buy multiple seats together in various locations, mostly in the 400 Level of Verizon Center.

Caps opening night 2013-14 tickets

But in reality, there are plenty of tickets available for the Caps home opener and other games through the secondary market and, in many cases, they’re far cheaper than if you buy them from the team. As of this posting, you can spend $57.90 via TicketMaster for a full price ticket to the home opener in Section 426 or you can get a seat in that same section for $30 through StubHub and for $25 via Ticket Exchange, “the official resale partner of the NHL,” which the Caps link to from their own website.

There’s nothing wrong with the Caps pushing their remaining tickets for the home opener; they’re a business and have inventory to sell. But a well-informed consumer could get in the door for about half that price if they take advantage of the deals available through resellers, where availability is far from limited. As of this posting, there are 1,518 seats listed on Ticket Exchange for that first home game and 2,409 on StubHub.

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With hockey season one week away, plenty of cheap Caps tickets are available through the resale market

Caps tickets on StubHub

There are many opportunities to see a Caps game for less than face value in October.

The Washington Capitals took a break from raising ticket prices this season after being pretty aggressive with some of their increases for several years in a row. I’ve spoken with more than one person who feels it’s become a bit expensive to go to a Caps game during the Rock the Red era and that’s certainly something I can relate to as a father of three.

Demand rose as the team got hot and the days of $10 top row Eagle’s Nest seats at Verizon Center are gone by miles. It would cost about $250 for my family to attend a Caps game this season in the 400 Level seats furthest from the ice (which I don’t mind sitting in at all), if I purchased them through the team. And that’s just for the tickets.

Park the car or pay for Metro, buy a snack and we’d be at over $300 for one family night out at a regular season game in the cheapest face value seats available. People are right to say a trip to Verizon Center has become a pricey experience over the past five-plus seasons or so.

But here’s some good news if you enjoy going to Caps games, yet don’t have a budget that allows you to spend the equivalent of a car payment for your family to attend a sporting event. Washington opens the 2013-14 NHL season next week and tickets to most of the team’s home games are available at big discounts on the resale market, including several in October.

First, the most expensive of the upcoming games: For the Caps home opener against the Calgary Flames on Thursday, October 3, tickets currently start at $32.20 on StubHub and at $27 on the Capitals Ticket Exchange, prices that are well below face value. There are 2,594 available for that game on StubHub and 1,818 on Ticket Exchange. Those $32.30 seats available through StubHub, which includes all fees in that price, are in a section of the 400 level at Verizon Center that would cost $57.90 total with fees through TicketMaster. That’s close to half-price for the first home game of the season, which I’ve always found to be a fun event.

From there, most of the October tickets get even cheaper. When the Carolina Hurricanes visit a week later on October 10, tickets are currently priced at $16.80 on StubHub with 2,870 available and at $14 on Ticket Exchange with 2,132 seats listed. The New York Rangers, often a fairly hot ticket in DC, visit Washington on Wednesday, October 16 and prices for that remain relatively low as well. 2,729 tickets are currently posted on StubHub, with the lowest priced at $31.10. On Ticket Exchange, 1,889 are available and they start at $26.

You can also see Edmonton when they visit on Monday, October 14 for as little as $13 (StubHub), Colorado on Saturday, October 12 starting at $24 (Ticket Exchange), and Columbus for $27 (Ticket Exchange) when they visit on Saturday the 19th.

October isn’t the only time when 2013-14 Caps tickets are available at discounted prices. As of this posting, there are plenty more tickets for sale at below face value over the course of the season if you scroll through the listings for the Caps on StubHub or Ticket Exchange.

If you really want to see a game for dirt cheap, check out the resale prices for the Caps two preseason games at Verizon Center this week against Nashville and Philadelphia. You may not see all the stars in those lineups and the games don’t count in the standings, but seats can be had for $4.49 (StubHub) versus the Predators or for $5 (Ticket Exchange) when the Caps face the Flyers.

Another approach is to wait until the day of a game to see if prices drop further on the resale markets as the start time approaches and ticket holders look to just get whatever they can, rather than nothing at all (be sure to confirm what time the resale sites cut off sales). This can work against you if inventory gets low and prices start moving up instead of down. But sometimes you can get some bargains – I got five seats for a grand total of $54.90 using this approach the season before last: “How to see a Washington Capitals game without spending a ton.”

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