Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Jets No. 2... for cost of beer

Tickets plus booze add up to big price

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The Winnipeg Jets might be near the bottom of the NHL standings, but when it comes to beer prices they're near the top of the heap.

A recent study from Illinois-based Team Marketing Report found the Jets not only have the second most expensive average ticket prices in the league, behind only the Toronto Maple Leafs, but they're also No. 2 in its "beer lovers' cost per period" indicator, also trailing the Leafs.

Using this metric -- which is equal to one-third the average ticket price for a game plus the price of one small beer -- the Jets come in at $39.72, ahead of the Montreal Canadiens at $39.50 and more than $9 behind the Leafs at $48.47. (All prices are in U.S. dollars.)

That's based on a $6.96 price tag for a 16-ounce beer at the MTS Centre, or 44 cents per ounce.

By comparison, the Dallas Stars are practically hosting kegger parties with their beer lover's cost per period of $15.98, the lowest in the NHL.

The TMR findings really shouldn't come as a surprise, said Robert Warren, a marketing professor at the I.H. Asper School of Business.

He said alcohol is expensive here to begin with due to the provincial tax structure, but the higher beer prices are simply a fact of life in the big leagues for a small-market team. "If you want an NHL team, the cost structure is higher (than an AHL team) and your pricing will be set accordingly," he said.

With a seating capacity of 15,004, the MTS Centre is the smallest arena in the league, giving the Jets fewer seats to generate revenue than their competition.

"When your revenue model calls for a certain amount from beer sales and concessions, the smaller number of seats means higher prices," he said.

While some fans are experiencing sticker shock when they get in the refreshment line, the good news for the Jets is the vast majority are so excited to have NHL hockey back in town, they're virtually immune to beer prices.

"Season-ticket holders are already in for many thousands of dollars.

"What's another couple of bucks per game for a beer? So you spend another $10 per game for beer than you'd spend at a bar, that's nothing (compared to your ticket costs)," he said.

Bud cans sport Jets logo

IF you can't get into the game but want to get a taste of the action -- both literally and figuratively -- Budweiser hopes you'll reach for them at the beer store before sitting down in front of a big-screen TV.

The No. 1 beer in Canada, and official beer sponsor of the Winnipeg Jets, recently branded its cans in the local market with the team's colours and logo.

"We recognize the return of Canada's seventh hockey team is an historic event," said Andrew Oosterhuis, Toronto-based brand manager of Budweiser.

"We're really trying to extend the experience of the fans. Not everybody can afford to go to the games; this is a great way to bring the Jets experience to consumers."

The Jets-branded can also has a QR code, which drives consumers to a Budweiser website where they can interact with other hockey fans, get updates on hockey news and collect points for Bud-branded hockey gear.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 10, 2011 A2

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