There was plenty of pomp and circumstance Monday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park as the NHL, the Flyers, and the New York Rangers announced the 2012 Winter Classic will be played at the home of the Phillies.
The media event drew about 2,000 fans to the ballpark despite it being a workday. You could sense the fans were respectful to hockey as they actually applauded the Rangers, at least until GM Glen Sather goaded the fans reminding them what his Oilers did to the Flyers in the '85 and '87 Stanley Cup Finals.
The hidden secret? Unless those fans are season ticket holders, or want to pay extreme mark-ups in the ticket exchange world, they're likely to be watching the game from the same place they saw the Flyers play the 2010 game, their home.
From the Flyers website: "At this time, we do not anticipate that there will be 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic tickets available for public sale."
The announcement makes sense. Citizens Bank Park can hold about 46,000 fans, and the Flyers are bragging about record high season and partial-season ticket plan purchases after the teams' successful playoff runs the last two years.
The feeling rings hallow though. It's like being told about your best friend's wedding, yet never receiving an invitation in the mail. The Flyers are trying to use the game as bait to purchase game tickets beyond just January 2, and it is probably a once-in-a-generation shot assuming they continue to rotate this concept around the league.
It speaks to the greater issue with professional sports. It keeps getting more expensive. Want a single game ticket to the Flyers/Coyotes game on November 17? That'll be $81.
Even if you don't want to shell out the money to go to the game, you're still doing it indirectly as cable channels continue to throw record amounts of money at leagues in fees. The Hollywood Reporter reported the carriage fee for ESPN was $4.40 per subscriber in 2010. That means that everyone who has ESPN available to them, from the sports-lover to the home-gardener was paying $4.40 a month to ESPN.
With ESPN continuing to bid for rights from the Pac-12, the NFL, and others, you had better believe that number will continue to rise as quickly as your cable bill. While that is going on, games that used to be available "free" over-the-air are being replaced by specialty cable channels that will add another few dollars a month. The Longhorn Network? YES? Comcast SportsNet? Yup, they're all adding extra cost to that heavy cable bill.
Sporting events used to be a nice reasonable family night out, but now they can take out an entire monthly entertainment budget, especially if you don't want to sit in the back row.
The owners will make their money, the players will make their money, but the fans will continue to lose more of their money, assuming they can even afford to get in a position to buy amazing tickets.
Clearly some people don't care. The Phillies sold every seat this season for the second straight year, and with the 3rd highest payroll in baseball, their ticket prices aren't going down anytime soon.
That said it is a shame that the common Flyers fan won't be in the stands at the Winter Classic, but you know the stands will be full, and they will be paid for.
Posted at 6:53pm on September 28, 2011 by Sean Greene
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