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Florida Panthers use airlines as model for ticket pricing

May 19, 2010, 11:00 PM EDT

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FloridaPANTHERSlogo.gifThe Florida Panthers are planning on basing ticket prices for the 2010-11 season off of the model used by airplane companies, according to George Richards of the Miami Herald. The goal would be to get fans to buy tickets earlier so they can avoid escalating prices that result from a highly anticipated game.

Here’s what team president Michael Yormark told Richards about the new setup.

Team president Michael Yormark says the new setup is based on the way airlines sell seats – prices will be determined as it gets closer to game time.

“It will pay to buy earlier,” Yormark said. “As inventory sells and gets tighter, the pricing will jump from tier to tier. It’s all about supply and demand. Fans won’t get the best price if they wait. When single game tickets go on sale in September, you will want to buy because the price will increase.”

Richards broke down the pricing structure to the best of his ability in the story.

Most games will be designated a bronze game. If ticket sales are brisk, the price will go up as it moves up a tier to silver. If that game continues to sell well, it would move to gold and then ultimately to platinum.

Let’s use a $100 ticket (for fun: Section 101, Row 15, Seat 1) in the lower deck as our example.

If it’s a Monday night game against the Thrashers, that ticket would likely still be $100 for a walk-up purchase (meaning it would remain a bronze-tier ticket) since that game wouldn’t be considered a big draw.

But, that same seat wouldn’t start at $100 for a game against the Canadiens or Penguins. Instead, it would start off as a silver or gold. So to start, that $100 ticket could be $140.

With the Canadiens/Penguins being a huge draw, the ticket price would climb based on availability – and could end up costing close to double what the same ticket for the Thrashers cost.

The Panthers have experimented with a variable pricing setup before by charging $25 extra for select games, but Richards wrote that the idea didn’t really get off the ground. Frankly, it seems audacious that the Florida Panthers – a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in ages – would consider such a divisive pricing scheme. Shouldn’t they focus on making tickets affordable, since they’re not exactly going to sell like hot cakes?

The Dallas Stars instituted a somewhat similar plan for the 2009-10 season, but the Stars fan base is quite different than that of the Panthers. It will be interesting (in a horrifying and brutally capitalistic way) to see how this plan shakes out. If nothing else, it might just motivate the fledgling franchise to win some games.

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