As a season ticket holder, this is the time of the season when the Devils (and many other teams, presumably) start offering plans for the next season. I saw brouchers being given out at Friday's game and learned from the season ticket reps that they have already mailed out renewal forms (which I saw when I got home). Our little exchange went something like this:
Rep: "Where do you sit by the way?"
Me: "Section 1"
Rep: "You're going to save some serious money for next season."
And the rep wasn't kidding, though it's not as much as I initially thought. After reviewing the prices for 2009-10 and comparing to what they are for 2008-09, I found that a majority of ticket holders will see price reductions. Mirtle reported that the Blackhawks are freezing their prices and noted that they aren't alone in doing so. The Devils are taking it a step further by cutting prices in a majority of sections. I believe they are doing this for two major reasons.
The first reason is why teams like the Blackhawks are freezing prices: the economy has suffered tremendously since the season started. Many may not be willing or able to pay $90 a night to go a hockey game. So fixing or reducing prices makes sense in an attempt to lessen the potential drop of attendance as well as box office and season ticket sales. With cuts in season plans, the Devils are aiming people continue to renewal, and perhaps, start buying in.
The second reason is that the Devils want to draw more people to the Rock. According to ESPN, attendance has moved up to an average of 15,667 since the last time the issue was discussed. However, from the games I've been to, the big sections of empty seats tend to be in the middle of the lower mezzanine sections and in the upper level ends, or the balcony as the Devils call it. The club seats and the lower bowl could use some more people on some nights, but it's not as bad as the 100-numbered sections. The upper sides and corners are normally packed. So by reducing prices in those areas, the Devils are hoping people will be more willing to go get tickets there.
I believe they will be successful in that regard. To summarize the cuts, single game prices have been cut in areas as much as $39; and season ticket prices have been reduced as much as $33 per area. Most of these cuts are in the $9-$16 range for single tickets and $10-$21 range for season plans. I broke down by section of what the savings are by section type after the jump for a full analysis. Still, kudos to the Devils for going a step beyond in cutting prices for a majority of seats at the Rock.
Add that to what the Devils are doing to provide incentive to commit early, and I think the Devils are making a great pitch for 2009-10, all things considered. Hopefully, the general economy can settle down and won't detract too many from signing up.
For the 2008-09 season, the Devils had a total of 16 sections to purchase tickets. Often, similar areas would have the same box office price, but they were separated by differing season ticket prices (I believe this includes partial plans). For next season, the Devils have drastically cut down on the number of sections, simplifying it to a total of 10.
The premium seats remain unchanged. The club seats, which is the first row in the lower bowl plus the six sections in front of the Rock's Fire and Ice lounges, remain at $250 for a single game, $170 for a season. The restaurant ledge and the Goal Bar balcony are also being sold for the same prices as well. The changes affect the rest of the arena, and rather than using a chart (and having to explain that separately), I'll break it down to highlight what sections got merged into what.
Price Example: $110/$80 means that the box office ticket is $110 and the $80 is the cost per game on a season plan. A full season plan is 44 games, so keep in mind that a $10 reduction on a season plan is a maximum savings of $440.
LOWER BOWL - DEVILS RED SECTIONS (Sec. 6, 10, 17, 21; Old Rose Section: Lower halves of 1-5, 11-16, 22)
2008-09 Section Price: $120/$98
2009-10 Section Price: $115/$88 (same as 2008-09 Rose price) Savings: $5/$10
The Rose sections have merged with the Devils Red sections, with the Devils Red price dropping $5 at the box office, $10 for season plans. Basically, they now cost what the Rose section originally cost. If you sit in the lower halves of the ends of the lower bowl; you don't get any savings in 2009-10.
LOWER BOWL - ORANGE SECTIONS (Upper halves of 1-5, 11-16, 22)
2008-09 Sec. 5, 11, 16, 22 Prices: $95/$70; Sec. 1, 4, 12, 15 Prices: $95/$60; Sec. 2, 3, 13, 14 Prices: $95/$40
2009-10 Section Price: $79 / $49 Savings: $16/$21, $11, $0
This area used to be split up as three separate sections, but the Devils are combining them into one and they make a big cut. For starters, they reduced the single game by $16, which should help those who were on the fence of deciding between the 100 sections and the lower bowl to choose to come downstairs. For the season ticket prices, this new plan doesn't help you much if you're sitting behind the goals. If you're in the corners, then it's a very nice reduction. Personally, I sit in this area and I love these seats - $49 a game for a season is a bargain with the value of the seats. The Devils are hoping more people will agree with me.
MEZZANINE CENTER - LAVENDER SECTION (First row of 110-113, 127-130)
2008-09 Section Price: $100/$88.
2009-10 Section Price: $100/$88 Savings: None
The prices hasn't changed, only that the old Yellow section for the first row is now the new Lavender section. It's center ice at the upper level, so I think a higher price is more justifiable given what they did with the rest of the upper level.
MEZZANINE CENTER - YELLOW SECTION (Rest of 111, 112, 128, 129)
2008-09 Section Price: $100/$88
2009-10 Section Price: $85/$55 Savings: $15/$30
Now this is a massive cut! One of the hardest sections to fill should have a lot less empty seats next season! While the single game price is a nice reduction, it's still a little more than sitting in the ends of the lower bowl. Then again, sitting at a high vantage point for center ice can be worth the extra bucks. The big draw is for season plans. If you already had one, you're saving a hefty $1,320! Basically, if you want center ice seats but can't afford the Club Seats, this is the closest you're going to get and it's incredibly affordable. The Devils clearly want this area filled, fans, take advantage of these new prices!
It's also proof that the Devils were clearly serious about the retaining and attracting season plans. At $55/game on a season plan, this is the second highest price among non-premium seats.
MEZZANINE SIDES/BALCONY SECTIONS - LIGHT BLUE SECTION (All 100 sections except for the Yellow and Lavender Sections)
2008-09 Sec. First Row in 100 sections outside of center, 110, 113, 127, 130 Prices: $95/$68; Sec. 108, 109, 114, 115, 125, 126, 131-134 Prices: $70/$55; 101-107, 116-124: $65/$49
2009-10 Section Prices: $56/$39 Savings: $39, $14, $9/$29, $16, $10
Similar to the lower bowl ends, the savings in ticket prices varies from where you have been. The sections right next to the center mezzanine sections enjoy the largest cuts in prices, which should definitely spur some additional interest. The rest of the 100 sections get some good savings, especially on season plans. At $39 per game on a season plan across the board, I don't see how it can be any lower without crashing into the upper sides.
UPPER SIDES - GREEN SECTION (209-215, 226-232)
2008-09 Sec. 211-213, 228-230 Prices: $38/$32; Sec. 210, 214, 227, 231 Prices: $30/$27; Sec. 209, 215, 226, 232 Prices: $25/$22
2009-10 Section Prices: $35/$29 Savings: $3, -$5, -$10/ $3, -$2, -$7
Here, we have some negative savings. In other words, some ticket price increases. The organization wants to attract people to the mezzanine, balcony, and lower bowl; so those areas saw price cuts. These sections are usually filled on a regular basis so the Devils are figuring that these areas will still be filled. That said, only those in the center of the upper side see any savings and even then that's a small amount. The ticket increases are small; the old Tan sections (210, 214, 227, 231) only see a marginal increase; but the old Dark Green sections (209, 215 226, 232) have a more significant increase. Given their low price overall, I still expect them to be filled though. Section 232, at least, will still be fully packed and fully loud.
UPPER CORNER - BROWN SECTION (208, 216, 225, 233)
This section holds the $10 day-of-game-only box office tickets. I'm reading for 2009-10 that there are season tickets at $15/game. The Devils have to keep that to a limited amount, I'm sure, as those day of game sales are pretty popular. Expect these corners to also be filled and loud (even crazy).
SEASON TICKET INCENTIVES
The brochure has a laundry list of benefits and prizes available for those who renew or buys season tickets by April 17. All will get a chance to meet and greet with players, an invitation to view a closed practice or a pre-game skate, comparable tickets to 3 Devils games based on number of seats on the account and availability, and an invitation to an exclusive barbecue with the team. That's quite a bit! That they are offering extra tickets is pretty impressive. I assume that's to help the season ticket holders with only one seat (e.g. me) bring friends to some games - in the hopes of having them become fans who buy tickets and such.
The incentives to buy in quickly are very powerful. For playoff tickets, those who bought them by a date had a chance to win a suite to a Devils-Rangers game or to any other game after said Devils-Rangers game took place. Needless to say, this was a powerful incentive. I, and hundreds (thousands?) of others bought in quickly for that chance! they are holding a drawing for a number of prizes.
They are doing something like that from March 24 through April 17, and some of these are just massive prizes. The Devils organization has come up with some great prizes to give away. I won't run through the whole list, so here's a selection: a trip for four the 2009 NHL Draft with airfare and hotel already paid for; a trip for four to a hockey game Vancouver for the 2010 Olympics with airfare and hotel included; a road trip to an away game via the team owner's jet; a guest broadcaster spot with Doc & Chico (or Ken Daneyko); and a round trip helicopter ride to Manhattan with 4 tickets to a Devils-Rangers game at MSG. I mean, these are some serious prizes. Do you think this will get people to buy their season tickets early? Do you have to ask?!
I really like what the Devils have got going for next season. It's very refreshing to see the Devils make a lot of positive changes to their ticketing practices. The organization could have frozen prices, but they took it a step further. They've made price cuts to sections that have not been drawing all that well, and they aren't small cuts for the most part. The only criticism one could have would be in those upper sides, but even then they remain as the second-lowest prices in the arena. Provided that the economy doesn't take a massive downturn (well, anymore than it already has), I think these moves will be effective in drawing more to the Rock, giving the Devils more business.