Did the New Jersey Devils Raise Ticket Prices for 2011-12? It Depends

On Wednesday, the New Jersey Devils publicly announced their prices for single game tickets for the 2011-12 season. You can view them at the team's official website along with their seating chart. The big change for this season is that the Devils are utilizing variable pricing levels for each game.   There are three levels - Premier, Classic, and 30th Anniversary Special - and the levels assigned to the game depends on the day of the week and the opponent.

I broke down the schedule of the variable pricing levels and compared the single game prices to the season ticket prices in this post.  The season ticket holder game price was often much lower than the single game prices across the board, moreso for certain sections for certain levels.  The Devils really want to drive people to sit in those balcony sections for a season given how much cheaper those seats are compared to nearby sections.  Moreover, the levels were driven mostly by day of the week and opponent more so than the time of the year - with only a few odd decisions in the schedule.

For the most part, based on the reaction in the post, Devils fans appear to appreciate the concept of variable pricing.  There hasn't been any real outcry here about it.   Yet, one big question remained unanswered in Wednesday's post.  How do these prices compare with last season's pricing scheme; are they higher? The Devils slightly raised prices in 2010, did they do it again in 2011?   As indicated in the headline, the answer is truly: it depends.  With three pricing levels and new seating classifications, it's going to depend on where you sit, what games you're purchasing, and whether you're just buying at the box office or you've got a season ticket plan.   I will explain all of it as best as I can after the jump.  Please set your viewing to "Wide" for some big charts before continuing.

In order to make this comparison work, we need to compare the various sections from the 2011-12 seating chart (with prices) and the 2010-11 seating chart (also with prices).

2011-12_section_descriptions

Fortunately, the 2011-12 seating chart just breaks up the sections from last season's chart so a mostly direct comparison can be made.  The Black section has been split up into Gold, Black, and Silver sections for Club Seats (a.k.a. the sections in front of Fire & Ice Lounges).   The Mezzanine/Balcony sections (a.k.a. the 100s outside of the center) used to be all Light Blue, but they're now broken up into Light Blue, Royal Blue, and Aqua.  Lastly, rows 16 through 23 on the side sections (Sections 6, 10, 17, 21) in the lower level  are now represented by Maroon, differentiating it from rows 6-10 in the other lower level sections.  The rest of the sections are split up the same for 2011-12 with the exception of a color change at most.

That said, there is one section that did dramatically change in it's scope: the Mezzanine Center First Row section. By the chart, it seems like it's just a color change: Upper Level Rust for 11-12 and Lavender in 10-11. Last season, Lavender represented the first row across eight sections (110 - 113; 127 - 130).  This season, that section has been reduced to only the first row in four sections: 111, 112, 128, and 129.  Therefore, those who had seats in the first row in sections 110, 113, 127, and 130 are in the 11-12 Light Blue classification.   As the following charts will demonstrate, those sections are substantially cheaper compared to last season's prices. 

Devils Single Game Ticket Pricing: 11-12 vs. 10-11

Here are the single game ticket prices announced for 2011-12 compared with the prices for 2010-11.

2011-12_single_game_vs_10-11

2011-12_single_game_comparison

Note: The red numbers indicate that prices have increased by that much either in gross (the $ difference) or by percentage (% difference). 

Just by looking at this alone, it's clear that the Devils have certainly raised single game ticket prices for Premium games, somewhat for Classic games, and actually lowered them in nearly all cases for Special games.  Here we can see the real effect of variable pricing.   Since the Devils want to maximize revenue for rivalry games (Rangers, Flyers) among others, everybody except in those Green sections will have to pay at least $10 more than they did last season. As for the third tier of games, everyone's getting a break of sorts; some more than others. The lower level non-premium sections stand to save the most for those Special games; where as the savings are lesser for most of the upper level.  That situation exists for the second tier as well; though the savings are different.  There's actually nominal increase in price for those Balcony and Mezzanine sections in the upper level Classic games; whereas only one section in the lower level - the Devils Red section - has lower single game ticket prices this season.  If nothing else, this chart highlights that it really does depend on the section and the pricing level to say whether your prices increase or not.

The two sections who don't benefit at all are in the first row, the Gold section, and the four upper corners sections, which are Brown on the seating chart.  One could argue that if you're willing to pay $250 for a single game to sit at the glass, then you may be willing to pay over $300.  Others could say those will be corporate owned, so the cost increase won't be that prohibitive.  That will remain to be seen this season.  

The mark up for the Brown sections should come with a big asterik.  Last season, those seats were $10 at the box office and they were only available on the day of the game literally at the Rock.  In other words, you'd have to get there early, get on line, and buy it from a person.  They were cheap, they were popular, but they weren't like all of the other seats you could get elsewhere.  On the the 10-11 chart, they specified they were day of game only; and that's missing on this season's chart.   I'm not sure if they're doing day of game sales and these are just higher prices; or whether they're making them generally available and so they raised the prices since they are so popular.   That all said, they are still the cheapest seats at the Rock.

Devils Season Ticket Pricing per Game: 11-12 vs. 10-11

Now, as I showed in Wednesday's post, the season ticket game prices are much cheaper than the single game prices. This makes sense as the Devils do want people to buy more season tickets, and the most visible way to make it an incentive is to show lower prices per game than single games.  Let's now compare that with what the season ticket prices were for equivalent sections in 2010-11.

2011-12_st_game_vs_10-11

2011-12_st_game_comparison

It appears that some season ticket holders can claim that they're getting more value for their tickets this season.    Those in the upper level Rust, Royal Blue, and Aqua sections all will save money per game regardless of the pricing level of the game.  Season ticket holders in the new Yellow and Light Green sections will only see a small increase for Premier games, but they'll more than make up the difference in the other two sections.  Even one of premium sections - the Silver section - will not see an increase of ticket price per game at the highest level and will have some savings per game for the other two.   These season ticket holders will benefit compared to last season's prices.

However, some sections will not enjoy that break.  The other lower level sections will see their per game prices increase at least $12 for Premier priced games, they will get no savings for Classic games (prices are the same as last season), and the savings for the Special games are not enough to make up for the increase in the Premium game.  Technically, that's an increase of cost for season ticket holders in the Devils Red, Orange, lower level Rust, and Maroon sections.  The same phenomenon happens in premium sections - Black and the Acela Club (the Goal Bar is similar but the savings in the third tier makes up for the increase in the first tier) - and in the upper levels with the Green, Brown, and Light Blue sections.  The one group of season ticket holders that get it the worst are the Gold section denizens, who will pay more per game regardless of price level.

Once again, I go back to the answer in the headline. Did the Devils raise ticket prices for season ticket holders? It depends - on where you sit and whether you're paying at these prices (I'm not sure if renewing season ticket holders had the option of freezing their past prices). 

What-If Scenario: 11-12 Prices vs. 10-11 Prices for 41 Games

In order to highlight the net decrease or increase in price by section, I've put together this what-if scenario.  What if you bought 41 tickets, one for each home game of the season?  Would you be paying more or less in this season than you would have for 41 tickets last season? How much more (or less) would you be paying in 2011-12? How would it change by section? What would be the difference between single games and season tickets?

Fortunately, we know from Wednesday's post that the Devils set up 10 Premier level games, 21 Classic level games, and 10 Special level games.  Given the released prices, we can calculate the price for 41 games in 2011-12 and compare it to the price for 41 games in 2010-11, which were constant throughout the season. Let's look at the first scenario for single game ticket prices.

2011-12_41_single_games

For single games, you will pay less for 41 games this season in the following sections: Silver, Acela Club, Yellow, lower level Rust, Maroon, and Light Green.   Everyone else gets an increase ranging from the tiny ($10 for the Green section) to the not insignificant ($105 for Devils Red, $150 for the upper level Rust, $355 for the Goal Bar) to the quite significant ($2,300 for sitting in the Gold section).    You could add the Brown section as a big increase; though it would have been quite difficult to be able to get 41 games in 2010-11 for game day tickets.

Why do these 10 sections in the arena see an increase, while 7 of them will not? It goes back to how the Devils set the prices for each level.  Remember that the Devils' levels are balanced.  If the single game price went up in 11-12 for the Premier level and it was more than the savings of the single game price for the Special level (if it exists), then there's already a net increase in price that will grow with more games.  If the 11-12 price for Classic games went up or the savings do not make up the net price change from the other two levels, then the result is higher prices for tickets in that section.   Of course, if the net change results in savings, then savings will grow with more games.   Clearly, the Devils tinkered with the prices in each level to put in a slight increase in some sections while providing savings elsewhere.   This may be to persuade people to buy tickets in those sections where savings will be held.

Of course, that presumes the buyer is going to compare prices with last season and that they are dissuaded by slight increases in price as much as they would be for larger prices.   Not to mention the pricing level for the game in question.  After all, it would be pretty dumb to buy 41 tickets from the box office, one for each home game. The amount of additional fees and taxes would add up and there isn't a guarantee of keeping the same seat. If you're interested in going to so many games, you should consider buying season tickets - which is what I did a few years ago. 

The season ticket game prices provide a more realistic scenario.  Therefore, I did similar calculations with season ticket game prices in comparison with 2010-11. I did not include the three preseason home games that come with buying season tickets. I don't know what they'll be priced at for this season (presumably it should be Special or even less than that), and I can't recall how much they were last season. In the interest of being consistent, I did this for 41 home games as well.

2011-12_41_st_games

Across all sections, season ticket prices per game are superior to single game prices for 41 games. If you are planning to go to a lot of games, it's advisable that you get season tickets.  Let's get back to the break down.

As with the single game prices, season ticket holders in 7 sections will yield savings over 41 games.  The sections themselves are different, though.  They are Silver, Goal Bar, Yellow, Light Green, Royal Blue, and Aqua, and they aren't minute difference.  The smallest savings is the net of $160 for those in the Goal Bar, not an insignificant chunk of change.   I can easily see that the Devils are really hoping that people get season tickets in those upper level ends of the stadium. The gross price for Royal Blue and Aqua are relatively cheap (second and third lowest prices for 41 games) and the savings compared to 10-11 are significant.    Will it work? That remains to be seen.

Incidentally, the second highest amount of savings has to be in that small upper level Rust section.  Those seats dropped by $1,487.  Someone could use that much money to get a second season ticket in four other sections and still have a little left over.  That's the highest on the chart; but the true highest savings are for those season ticket holders who were in the Lavender section in 10-11 who are now in the Light Blue in 11-12. That's a difference of $1,866. Crazy savings for such a small section in the Rock.

Now, like with the single game pricing, most of the arena still sees a net increase in prices. The big difference is that's really not that much.  Only the Gold section season ticket holders sees a massively bump in their price.  The rest is all less than $100.  It's an increase, but is it really that big of a deal?   My season tickets in the lower level Rust section will cost me $30 more than last season for 41 home games.  Yet, to get those season tickets in either season, I had to pay well over $2,000.  The net increase in season ticket per game price in 11-12 is just a drop in the bucket by comparison.  That's true for all of the other sections, save for the season ticket holders in Gold. Outside of Gold, it's $70 or less, a very small percentage of the total season ticket price.  I can only speak for myself, but I don't even feel that I'm being nickel-and-dimed by the Devils, it's more like "penny-ing."  

Conclusion

Let's go over the main findings from comparing 11-12 ticket prices to 10-11 ticket prices one more time:

  • Among the three levels compared to static 10-11 pricing, pretty much everyone has their ticket prices increased for Premier level games, almost everyone will have cheaper prices for Special level games, and it varies for Classic level games.
  • More sections will save money per game on season ticket prices compared to single game prices at the Classic level.
  • Season ticket holders in 7 sections will save significant money over the season compared to 10-11; and those outside of Gold will only see a small net increase in price.  
  • Those buying multiple single game tickets in 7 sections will experience savings compared to 10-11; but they are not the same sections as for season ticket prices.  The net increases vary more by section.
  • The Devils really want people to buy more season tickets in the Silver, upper level Rust, Yellow, Royal Blue and Aqua sections. They will save the most compared to last season.
  • Three sections will see net savings regardless of whether it's season ticket pricing or single game pricing over a season: Silver, Yellow, and Light Green.
  • People who want to buy single or season tickets in Gold will pay much more in 2011-12 than they did in 2010-11 except for Special level games.  If anyone should be upset about the new pricing, it should be them. 
  • Those single game ticket buyers in the Brown section may be feel unhappy since the Devils seemingly jacked that price. It's still the cheapest ticket in the arena.

Above all, it really does depend on your situation as to whether the Devils raised ticket prices.  For several sections, they did just that.  I now know my seats did.  However, this leads to the next question: is it significant?  In my case, it really isn't. It's only $30 for something I would have had to have paid $2,100+ to begin with. To that end, I'm OK with my season ticket prices.  I'm fine with the new variable pricing scheme given my situation.   However, your situation may be quite different.  Or similar, if you're in the same section as I am or if you have season tickets in nearby seats.  Maybe this will entice you to select a particular section for season tickets now that you know what the total value is, and how it stacked up to last season.  Maybe you feel these increases in non-Gold sections are more significant than I do.  Maybe you'll find out that you'll come out ahead in 11-12 compared with 10-11.  In that case, the Devils didn't raise ticket prices. 

Most of all, I hope this all explains the more complex pricing system the Devils have put in place in 2011-12.  I personally want to know what you think.  Now that you see the prices in this way, what do you think of the Devils' variable pricing scheme now that you've seen the prices compared to 2010-11?  If you're a season ticket holder, did your prices go up or down, and what do you think about it?  If you're interested in just buying a few games, what do you make of these changes in prices? Will it affect how you buy tickets, driving you to get more Classic and Special games as opposed to Premium games?  Please leave your answers and other thoughts on the Devils' ticket prices for 2011-12 in the comments. Thank you for reading.

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