The end of Hockeytown?
I don't know if those tickets weren't sold (bad) or just not used (worse). I know only that if the Wings win seven more games, if they capture the Cup, if they keep up this excellence and they do it with this many empty seats, we don't deserve the name Hockeytown. And it'll be our loss.There were apparently more than 20,000 tickets sold to last night's game, so those empty red seats were likely no-shows — or the team was papering the house.
Either way, it's the continuation of a problem that started in last year's postseason, when an 11-year sellout streak ended. Those in Michigan blame the economy, and that's understanable.
The reality is, however, that there are very, very few markets in the NHL where the conference finals wouldn't be completely packed to the rafters. Tampa Bay managed to sell out every playoff game in its Stanley Cup run, and I imagine even a market like Nashville, which had terrific crowds in the first round, would have no problem filling the building at this point in the postseason.
My guess is Dallas will fill its rink to capacity when the series shifts to Game 3 in Texas, Pittsburgh has sold out every game this season and things in Philadelphia are starting to really heat up in terms of sales and TV viewers.
It makes you wonder just where "Hockeytown" fits in as an American hockey market these days, and if the team has priced its cash-strapped fans out of the building.
UPDATE Here's a look at playoff ticket prices in Detroit. For the conference finals, the cheapest ticket is $70-75, which is down from $99 last season.
Upper bowl tickets, like the one I bought for a game against Phoenix in January, go from $44 in the regular season to $90-100 in this round, while lower bowl seats range from $180 to $215.
UPDATE The fans in Detroit are angry:
The bottom line is this: Olympia has taken the fans for granted for far, far too long. From the arrogance of the ticket office to the clinging of the Hockeytown tag line long after it’s grown stale, to the in game presentation that hasn’t been revised since the mid 90s to the fact that the Wings have done absolutely nothing to improve Joe Louis Arena.The comments on Albom's story fill in the rest of the details.
And here's a look at the unemployment rates in Michigan for the uninitiated. The state has the highest rates in the U.S.
UPDATE A rough idea of ticket prices in markets in the conference finals:
Dallas: $140-300 lower bowl; $60-160 upper bowl
Pittsburgh: $140-215 lower bowl; $57-129 upper bowl
Philadelphia: $200-300 lower bowl; $50-100 upper bowl
Detroit: $180-215 lower bowl; $70-140 upper bowl
Labels: Red Wings