14 May 2008

Hockey vs. Rent

There's been much ado in Hockeytown for the past few seasons over the declining attendance, but this season it seems even our own sportswriters are chomping at the bit to call out the Detroit faithful. Joe Hass over at Behind the Jersey and Dave at Gorilla Crouch have both already covered the matter of Mitch Albom's latest attack on Wings fans over with a completely valid (and completely brilliant) mixture of facts and appalled outrage at his gall to first scold us and then suggest such this:

"I know the economy is bad. I'm not telling people to hock the jewelry or find a job.

But we're not talking 100,000 spots here, either. There are enough fans and money in our area to fill those absent clusters. Hey, if we can fill Lions seats, we can fill Red Wings seats."
Now, I'm just one fan, and heck, I'm probably not even the fan Albom is targeting with this argument, but for just a few minutes let me deign to think myself important enough to explain why at least one fan has only been to two games this postseason -both with tickets I got for free.

I just finished undergrad. I'm living in an apartment two and a half hours away from the Joe, where I have a job that pays me, well, enough to cover rent, Center Ice, and the occasional trip to the bar. And no matter how much the ticket costs, it's already $55 in gas to get home. The absolute cheapest tickets for round one were $45 on top of that - not so bad right? But really, those are the seats at the very top of the arena, a few rows at most, and the next best come in at, $55. We're already up to $110 and that's without the service fees, because when you're 2 hours away you can't really go pick up your tickets from the Joe box office.

Those tickets in the picture above are mine from Games 1 and 2 of this round. $140 for seats in row 11 out of (I believe) 23 in the upper bowl, and $200 for seats halfway up the lower bowl. And they were great, both seats. Amazing atmosphere, fans, everything. The fans aren't acting like their claim to Hockeytown is dying. But if I hadn't gotten lucky enough to snag a couple corporate tickets from my dad? Heck no, I wouldn't have been able to get anywhere near the Joe - even the cheapest tickets this round clock in at a bank-account damaging $75, plus service charge, plus gas - and then you have to talk somebody else into paying that much to go with you.

Sure, Mitch, you probably weren't talking to college students in that article. You probably weren't calling for people to flock in from all across Michigan. In fact you were probably referring more to locals who still have stable jobs in our faltering economy, people who can maybe shell out that much for a game. But before you accuse Hockeytown of dying, think about all the people, all the fans, who would love to be at these games and simply can't do it.

I don't mean this to be a whiny woe-is-me I can't afford hockey tickets post, because I understand - I understand that ticket prices can only be knocked back so much (which they did this year, slashing some drastically) and that there's always going to be people who just have to wait it out until they hit the point where they can afford it, and I'm not blaming anyone for that. But, Mitch, don't knock the fans like me. We're doing what we can. We'd love to fill that arena if we could.

Say whatever you want, but whether I'm there or not in person, it isn't for lack of love for the game, the playoffs, or my team.

In 45 minutes the Wings will be trying to sweep the Stars to win the Western Conference Finals and advance for the chance to lift the Cup again for the first time since 2002, and if they do, when they come triumphantly back to the Joe to face their next opponent, I know a whole lot of people who would give anything to be in that arena spurring them on. Hockeytown isn't dead. GO WINGS.

1 comment:

Kirsten said...

At least you are putting rent above hockey. I know some kids that went to a Seahawks game and had to beg their parents to pay the month's rent and buy them some food. Said parents were not pleased.