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Panthers’ 2012-13 ‘Club Red’ plan would represent radical price increases for some top seats

Aug 21, 2011, 10:00 PM EDT

Lightning Panthers Hockey AP

One way or another, the Florida Panthers will be a very different team on the ice next season, even if those changes might not get them any closer to a playoff berth. They’ll have a slew of new (and largely unproven) forwards, some pricey veteran defensemen and a brand new No. 1 goalie in 2011-12. Apparently the franchise is banking on a serious revival among latent fans by next summer, because their 2012-13 “Club Red” plan represents price increases that are just as radical as their roster renovations.

The Winnipeg Free Press reports that Panthers season ticket holders in three of the BankAtlantic Center’s “prime sections” received a letter from the team that detailed dramatic price jumps for the 2012-13 season. The team plans to convert three sections – 134, 101 and 102 – to “Club Red,” which will be an “ultra-premium, all-inclusive” area for events at the arena.

Unfortunately, those “ultra-premium, all-inclusive” seats come at some hyper-ludicrous prices. Just read about the monetary impact one long-time Panthers fan named Allyn White would have to deal with to keep the “best seats in the house.”

The price to join the exclusive club rocked White like a blindside check. He said he was told his seats would cost $22,500 apiece, which would cover other events at BAC in addition to Panthers games. He said he paid about $5,000 for two seats at center ice in row 15 for the upcoming hockey season.

“I’ve been a season-ticket holder since Day 1 in Miami. I’ve never missed a game. You’re telling me too bad, your $5,000 tickets are now going to be $45,000?” said White, who runs a travel agency in Fort Lauderdale. “I don’t want to sit in the corners. I don’t want to sit in row 3. I sit in … prime seats, which I’ve earned. I’ve got the best seats in the house.”

Yeah, it’s pretty reasonable that White is upset with a 9x increase in his ticket prices. This seems like a ridiculously bold move for a team that hasn’t made the postseason in ages, especially since they run the risk of estranging some of their most passionate fans. Maybe the Panthers assume that they’re going to make a whole new batch of them during this pivotal season?

Panthers president Michael Yormark is known for finding some off-the-beaten path ways to make money, so it’s no surprise that he’s pumping up the idea.

“Obviously, it’s going to be a significant revenue generator for the organization. We also think it’s going to create a very unique experience for those people that become members,” said Michael Yormark, president and COO of the Panthers. “We did do focus groups, we talked to our season-seat holders. This was not something that was done in haste.”

For those prices, it better be a “very unique” experience for members and there better be some amazing food and beverages available. To be honest, I wouldn’t be impressed unless they had Tyrannosaurus Rex eggs on the menu, but “Club Red” members might end up being easier to please.

  1. tommytd - Aug 22, 2011 at 3:35 AM

    …and BTW we forgot to tell you…food and drink is extra! LOL

  2. doyousmellthat - Aug 22, 2011 at 9:07 AM

    Looks like a typical Panthers fan on field trip night at the group home.

  3. capsrockva - Aug 22, 2011 at 10:25 AM

    Fl isn’t gonna be that good. Voukoun kept them in games that they should’ve lost, and now my Caps have him for a steal of a price. I see Fl fighting it out w/ Winnipeg for the basement of the SE

  4. aschwartz2011 - Aug 22, 2011 at 12:08 PM

    Did the same thing in Tampa with the XO club (I believe it has been renamed now) but on the endzone of the second level. Everyone questioned the move when it was made but lots of corporations and legal/financial firms scooped up the expensive seats (which had bad views). This seems to be a similar move, but with much better seats. The problem is that the people that can afford these tickets (mostly businesses) care less about the game and more about impressing clients with expensive tickets.

    Boston has done the same thing with the Celtics (albeit without the free perks), raising ticket prices higher and higher in premium seats to squeeze out fans and slide in business partners. I am sure it’s happening everywhere in the sports as corporate clients become more valuable than fans.

    • James O'Brien - Aug 22, 2011 at 12:32 PM

      That’s a good point and I couldn’t help but assume that corporations are the only groups who could shell out such dough for Panthers games. It’s sad to hear that some of the team’s few passionate fans will get squeezed out, but I guess that’s the nature of the beast.

  5. t16rich - Aug 22, 2011 at 2:07 PM

    Sorry Miami hockey fans. But you should not have an NHL team. It seems other teams have more fans in your building every time I watch a Panthers home game.

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