The Winnipeg Jets have informed season-ticket holders that prices will increase two per cent for the 2013-14 NHL season, a notch less than the maximum three per cent increase that could have been invoked.
When True North Sports and Entertainment got commitments for the 13,000 seats in a matter of a few days in June 2011, it entered into three-, four- and five-year deals with ticket holders and promised not to exceed a three per cent increase in any year.
True North CEO Jim Ludlow said the increase for next season was the result of a balanced examination of the organization's needs, factoring in things such as inflation and cost-of-living increases.
"We know that we have to balance the increase in costs of running the operation against the notion of trying to keep pace with growth within the league against the notion of trying to keep a balance in the relationship with our fans, so two per cent is our number," Ludlow said on the weekend.
"We are always doing our best to remain thoughtful about how we balance what it is we have first with the relationship we have with our fans and second a relationship with just keeping pace with growth, generally speaking, in the league. (There are) rising costs within the organization, and they do happen on an annual basis just like they do in any business."
Ludlow termed the ticket-price increase "reasonable."
"Taking an increase in that range simply keeps you neutral," he said.
Ludlow said the organization's examination of costs and prices included conversations with other Canadian NHL franchises.
"We look at things so we're not out of step with our peers across Canada, Ludlow said. "We have some discussion across Canadian teams. That range is about two to three per cent."
The Toronto Maple Leafs, for instance, will raise prices about 2.5 per cent for next season.
For those who might have expected the maximum increase to try to enhance the team's ability to attract or sign a high-end free agent, the accounting doesn't support that conclusion.
The price increase the Jets are invoking may yield $1 million in extra revenue next season, give or take. If the increase was three per cent instead of two, it would only bump that extra ticket cash to $1.5 million, which is not an impactful amount of money when it comes to top-flight players.
Ludlow said the correlation between the ticket-price increase and team GM Kevin Cheveldayoff's player budget is not a direct one, anyway.
"Tickets are only one element of our revenue streams to the organization," he said. "But it's a very important long-term relationship element."
To that end, True North is as focused on the fan experienced as it is on improving its hockey team.
He said there is a "significant" capital-improvement plan underway for inside the MTS Centre for the next three to five years.
Next year's ticket-price increase has no connection to the recent commitment season-ticket holders were asked to make for Jets playoff tickets this spring.
Those prices will increase about 50 per cent over regular-season games for first-round Stanley Cup games, and go higher from there should the Jets advance. First-round games will cost between $60 and $199.13 if the Jets make it to the post-season at the end of April.
We're No. 2
A look at the average ticket price of each NHL team:
Toronto Maple Leafs$124.69
New York Rangers$72.04
New York Islanders$65.21
Los Angeles Kings$61.36
Detroit Red Wings$53.28
San Jose Sharks$51.47
New Jersey Devils$48.06
Columbus Blue Jackets$47.95
St. Louis Blues$46.20
Colorado Avalanche $40.62
Tampa Bay Lightning$38.12
Note: All prices are converted to USD at the exchange rate of $1CAD$.997280 USD.
-- source: Team Marketing Research