Monday, September 5, 2011

The Winnipeg Jets and the skyboxification of your wallet


 Go Jet$ go!

When the Winnipeg Jets sold out 1,000 corporate tickets, 13,000 season tickets, and 8,000 spots on a waiting list for more (for $50 non-refundable fee), you can bet the marketers were watching and learning.

(The first lesson of semester one advertising: "the marketers always win.") 

Sure, the marketers were "happy." But they were also kicking themselves, because they could have charged more for everything, extended the "membership agreements" long past three, four, and five years, and still been unable to fill the insatiable demand.

(The second lesson of semester one advertising: "Low supply + high demand = ka-ching, ka-ching.")

Weeks later, the Bombers sold 17,000 season tickets in preparation for the team's move to its fancy, new digs at the University of Manitoba - and you can bet the ticket prices and long-term lease agreements will go along with them.

Can the Goldeyes be far behind?

Into the Wild

I realized that the days of sports as low-cost entertainment for the family were gone when - in the long winter of our Jetsless discontent - I drove to St. Paul two or three times to see the Wild

The tickets were strangely expensive. The seats were strangely comfy. The spectators were strangely well-groomed and "rich-looking" - under their jerseys, they wore shirts, ties, and Cosby-style sweaters. Their kids had expensive haircuts.

They'd also hidden away the hot-dog stand to make room for a chef carving a big slab of prime rib and serving it up on a real plate. 

I knew that if and when the Jets returned, they would come along with air-conditioned corporate suites and skyboxes far above the "cheap seats," which would actually be expensive seats. And with them would come a whole, new era of entertainment pricing strategies.

Cash: the final frontier

I once saw Green Day play Le Rendez-Vous for $10 - which explains why 15 years later, I can't justify paying $200 to see William Shatner on a speaking tour.

As a guy with 8,000 CDs and 1,000 ticket stubs, I can say I've never been shy about dropping large chunks of disposable income on entertainment - but that's just under $1,000 for a family of four to see T.J. Hooker. 

It's hard to believe that in the movie Festival Express, about the 1970 train tour across Canada by some of the most popular musicians of the day, the then-mayor of Calgary openly called for the tour promoter to open the gates and "let the kids in for free."

The ticket price to see Janis Joplin et al. in 1970? $10 at the gate and $9 in advance.

How much longer until we have a "presale password concert club" for $100 (non-refundable, of course) a year? Oh - it sold out? Do I hear $200? Screw you, kids!

The skyboxification of culture

Recently, author Michael J. Sandel bemoaned what he called "the skyboxification of culture" in the New York Times.

He says:
"Not long ago, the ballpark was a place where CEOs and mailroom clerks sat side-by-side, and everyone got wet when it rained.

"Something similar has happened throughout society. Rich and poor increasingly live separate lives.

"(If I were president) I would invest in an infrastructure for civic renewal. It would draw us out of our skyboxes and into the common spaces of democratic citizenship." 
I dunno - sounds expensive.

5 comments:

  1. With Personal Seat Licenses (PSLs) on the way, enjoying a game of puck at MTS Centre will leave season ticket holders with even bigger holes in their already leaky wallets.

    And, the only senior citizen I'd pay over $200 to see is Larry David.

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  2. I was at that Green Day show! I also saw Our Lady Peace play Ozzie's for $5. I think the low-cost shows I saw in my not-so-misspent youth is part of the reason why I'm so reluctant to pay today's concert ticket prices. In the past 12 months, I've seen Brad Paisley, Kid Rock, Bon Jovi and U2 - all for free! U2 is a good example of this, as I stood in line for hours to buy tickets for the Popmart tour, but I couldn't justify paying for tickets the last time they came around. For musicians, the price hike is obviously due to plummeting record sales - they gotta make money somewhere, right? But for sports the high prices are strictly supply and demand. They'll charge as much as they think they can get away with. And you are right - on May 31st, True North unveiled ticket prices that I thought were very reasonable compared to other NHL teams. Now they realize that they probably could have gotten away with charging us the same as what Maple Leaf fans pay - way too much!

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  3. i wonder if they'll bring back the trough of pee to the newer and improved mts mosquitodome...

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  4. I'd pay $200 to see Larry David. Once.

    The Green Day show was killer - back when the band proudly undercharged its fan base. Doesn't seem to have those qualms anymore.

    The trough is gone forever, I'm afraid. Unless you go to a First Avenue show in Minneapolis.

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  5. I worked that OLP show at the hotel. Quite the experience.

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