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Posted at 11:36 AM ET, 03/ 8/2011

Capitals raise ticket prices again

By Dan Steinberg

As you might have heard, the Capitals recently sent out ticket invoices to season ticket holders, and the headline is that prices are going up for the fourth straight year.

Wait, that sounds kind of familiar? Oh yeah, I wrote nearly the identical sentence about a year ago. Because people seem to be interested in such matters, I will provide a very similar Q&A to the one I provided last year, bearing in mind that these are complicated matters with lots of numbers involved. If you have further questions, please note them below.

How much are prices increasing?

Like last year, there are two sets of season-ticket prices: one for existing ticket holders who renew by March 16, and another for new season-ticket holders. This is the second time the Caps have offered a discount to existing plan holders.

For people who renew their existing packages by the deadline, prices are increasing anywhere from 4 percent to 21 percent. For people who sign up after March 16, prices are increasing anywhere from from 6 percent to 19 percent.

What else is new?

The biggest change, I think, is the introduction of different prices for "attacking" and "defending" seats. This means that season-ticket plans on the end of the ice where the Caps shoot in the first and third periods are now more expensive than plans on the end where the Caps defend twice a game.

How much is the difference? It depends. For lower preferred renewals, the attacking end seats ($80) are five bucks more than the defending end seats ($75). Same thing for loge preferred renewals ($65 instead of $60). Upstairs, the difference is smaller. For mezzanine end renewals, the attacking end seats are $34 instead of $32. For mezzanine corner renewals, the attacking end seats are $29 instead of $27.

A team spokesman told me that there is a greater demand for attacking end seats, and that about half the NHL's teams have a similar two-tier pricing structure.

How much did prices increase in recent years?

Two years ago, they went up anywhere from 5 percent (lower bowl) to 20 percent (Goal Zone) for season-ticket holders. Last year, they went up anywhere from 13 percent (lower bowl) to 33 percent (corner 400 level) for existing plan holders, and from 16 percent (lower bowl) to 50 percent (corner 400 level) for new plan buyers

What about gate prices?

The team hasn't announced what gate prices will cost next season, but they're also expected to increase, and will remain significantly higher than season-ticket prices. Those numbers won't be out until July.

How will the new ticket prices compare to other teams in the NHL?

Impossible to say. Since the lockout, the Caps have said that their season-ticket prices have been in the bottom third of the NHL. As I wrote last year, that's a pretty good deal, considering the wealth of the team's fanbase and the team's status as an annual playoff contender.

It's too early to say, but it's possible that the Caps will no longer be in the bottom third after this latest increase. A team spokesman, though, said the team would certainly remain in the bottom half of the NHL in season-ticket pricing.

Team Marketing Report publishes an annual study on NHL fan costs, although many people in the industry are wary of the study's accuracy. This year, TMR said the Caps average ticket price was $55.57, which ranked 12th in the NHL and was about a dollar more than the NHL average. TMR said the Caps had the NHL's biggest ticket price increase for this season. It also said the Caps' average premium ticket cost $166.27, which ranked third in the NHL.

Any free plugs for the team?

Don't forget their great payments options: 12 months, no interest!!!!

Conclusions

The larger (and obvious) point is the same one I made last year: supply and demand have still not reached their equilibrium. The Redskins haven't raised season-ticket prices since 2006. The Caps obviously are still catching up to reality.

The Prices, for March 16 Renewals

VIP Row A: Increase from $246 to $275 (12 percent)
VIP Row B: $156 to $175 (12 percent)
Center Preferred: $96 to $110 (15 percent)
Center Preferred Attack: $96 to $105 (9 percent)
Center Preferred Defend: $96 to 100 (4 percent)
Lower Preferred Attack: $71 to 80 (13 percent)
Lower Preferred Defend: $71 to $75 (6 percent)
Loge Preferred Attack: $56 to $65 (16 percent)
Loge Preferred Defend: $56 to $60 (7 percent)
Mezzanine Center: $40 to $44 (10 percent)
Mezzanine End Attack: $29 to $34 (17 percent)
Mezzanine End Defend: $29 to $32 (10 percent)
Mezzanine Corner Attack: $24 to $29 (21 percent)
Mezzanine Corner Defend: $24 to $27 (13 percent)

The Prices, for post-March 16 Buyers

VIP Row A: Increase from $251 to $280 (12 percent)
VIP Row B: $161 to $180 (12 percent)
Center Preferred: $99 to $115 (16 percent)
Center Preferred Attack: $99 to $110 (11 percent)
Center Preferred Defend: $99 to $105 (6 percent)
Lower Preferred Attack: $74 to $85 (15 percent)
Lower Preferred Defend: $74 to $80 (8 percent)
Loge Preferred Attack: $59 to $70 (19 percent)
Loge Preferred Defend: $59 to $65 (10 percent)
Mezzanine Center: $43 to $47 (9 percent)
Mezzanine End Attack: $32 to $37 (16 percent)
Mezzanine End Defend: $32 to $35 (9 percent)
Mezzanine Corner Attack: $27 to $32 (19 percent)
Mezzanine Corner Defend: $27 to $30 (11 percent)

By Dan Steinberg  | March 8, 2011; 11:36 AM ET
Categories:  Caps  
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Comments

For the record, I have two upper level season tickets for both the Caps and the Redskins.

For the upcoming seasons (2011 Redskins, 2011-2012 Caps), I will pay more for my two Caps seats than I will for my two Redskins seats AND Parking Pass.

Posted by: CapsNut | March 8, 2011 12:22 PM | Report abuse

But you're paying for 41 Caps games vs. 8 Redskins games. It would make sense that you're paying more for the Caps.

Posted by: TwoBuckChuck | March 8, 2011 12:31 PM | Report abuse

well duh, 41 games compared to 10 home games lol. You should be spending no more than 800 bucks per redskins ticket

Posted by: skinfan2k | March 8, 2011 12:31 PM | Report abuse

CapsNut, is that per game or for the whole season? Unless you're getting some sort of break for obstructed seating, cheapest uppers at FedEx are $44 (endzone, row 15 and above), with parking $35 a car. From Bloggy's post just now, the most expensive uppers at Verizon are going to be $47.

Sure on a season basis it'd be more, because there are 40+ home Caps games vs. 10 Redskins games, but are you saying it's more for the Caps per game?

Posted by: wahoo2x | March 8, 2011 12:33 PM | Report abuse

I have had upper level season tickets for the Caps for the last 6 years, and I have no problem with the increase in ticket prices. You pay for what you get, we have a team that CAN contend every season, and have a payroll against the salary cap...

I gave up my Skins tickets 2 years ago, not giving money to a horrible owner, with a horrible stadium, in a horrible location..

Posted by: CapsBaby | March 8, 2011 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Since the 1995-96 season my season ticket cost (lower level corner, first in defense zone switching to attack zone 3 years ago) has risen 67%, an increase of a whopping $1,200 per seat. And after this year's performance I almost prefer watching the crappy team of 2006 who could at least be counted on to give 100% effort every night.

Posted by: StikSav | March 8, 2011 12:40 PM | Report abuse

owning season tickets is dumb. you can get tickets to every game on the secondary market for 50% of face

Posted by: skinfan2k | March 8, 2011 12:40 PM | Report abuse

the caps ticket prices are reasonable...fans complaining about this are ridiculous. sure, they are expensive, but that is a choice the buyer holds...we get a huge break for buying the whole season that i would argue very few contending teams offer. suck it up and be glad you have a contending team on the ice.

Posted by: carsonspence | March 8, 2011 12:46 PM | Report abuse

skinfan2k,
go online and try and find tix to this sunday's game vs. chicago. see how many are 50% of face. i know tix in my xection are selling for over DOUBLE the STH price. oh wait, were you talking about Redskins tickets?

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | March 8, 2011 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Being able to pay over 12 months w/out interest (other than like a $1 fee) makes Caps seats way more reasonable than Redskins seats. The Redskins offer 3 months w/no interest. Completely pathetic since everyone will have paid fully for their tickets before mini-camp. It makes it a lot harder, along with the product/owner/stadium location, to justify Redskins seats. At this point, our group holds onto Redskin seats for the enormous tailgates and friends that join us. I keep the Caps seats because it's great entertainment to go to Verizon Center.

Posted by: Section104 | March 8, 2011 12:58 PM | Report abuse

The NHL regular season is nothing but a fund raiser for the owners. It's a waste of money just like the NFL pre-season. I don't go to Skins or Caps games anymore and I don't miss a thing.

Posted by: DCFanatic | March 8, 2011 1:00 PM | Report abuse

I'll write what I did last year at this time--sure, the price of my seats is going up, but they're still only $27 apiece. That's pretty cheap. And one benefit not mentioned must be noted--buying season tickets assures you of being able to buy playoff tickets (and at a very large discount).

Posted by: TheFingerman | March 8, 2011 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Steinberg: if Snyder raised prices, you would be all over him. Fact is, the Caps haven't won anything and Leonsis and company act like they have.

Posted by: poguesmahone | March 8, 2011 1:10 PM | Report abuse

My club seats have gone from $52 to $75, which would be a 40% increase. Dont forget Dan, since Ted owns everything now, club seats count also.

We dont have any perks up there anymore either, except maybe a free game program and a $14 pretzel for 10.

Posted by: sal7979 | March 8, 2011 1:10 PM | Report abuse

One thing I think people miss is the fact that before this year, and possibly last year, there were a lot more "gate" purchases while still selling at or close to capacity. Now a lot of those seats that were "gate" purchases before have become season ticket seats and don't bring in the money that a gate price would. I think the price increase is due in part to the Caps being prepared to have to pay higher salaries in coming years as our "youthful" team ages and salaries rise. Also, reclaiming some of that "lost" income from seats converted from gate sales to season ticket sales. My Caps season ticket seat costs $43 per game. Thats $1892 for the 41 game season plus 3 pre-season games. If my seat were sold at "gate price" each night, the Caps would take in $3745 over the course of the season.

I can't complain since I pay $43 for each game to watch probably the best hockey player in the world 41 times a year. Try going to a Redskins game for $43 a game if they were as successful as the Caps. I have Redskins season tickets as well and I get a lot more value (and fun) going to Caps games (plus I don't have to pay $30-$40 to park each time).

Posted by: svt97cobra | March 8, 2011 1:19 PM | Report abuse

I don't like to see the rise in prices, but it's hard to complain. The Caps have just about maxed out on STH, the team is the only DC team to have a legitimate shot at a title, the atmosphere is great, and you get playoff tickets at a great price (though it'd be really worthwhile if they went much deeper in the playoffs).

Anyway, I doubt they'll lose many STH because of this.

Posted by: tpricci | March 8, 2011 1:29 PM | Report abuse

@skinfan2k

yea owning season tickets is dumb, I sell a few of the premium games on the secondary market for more than face value and cover the cost of the rest of the season oh and btw when you buy them at 50% of face I still make a profit on you.

Posted by: caps512 | March 8, 2011 1:36 PM | Report abuse

skinfan2k,
go online and try and find tix to this sunday's game vs. chicago. see how many are 50% of face. i know tix in my xection are selling for over DOUBLE the STH price. oh wait, were you talking about Redskins tickets?

i did mean redskins tickets. sorry for those who were confused my statements. having caps season ticket is defintely worth it in the 2ndary market

Posted by: skinfan2k | March 8, 2011 1:47 PM | Report abuse

skinfan2k,
go online and try and find tix to this sunday's game vs. chicago. see how many are 50% of face. i know tix in my xection are selling for over DOUBLE the STH price. oh wait, were you talking about Redskins tickets?

i did mean redskins tickets. sorry for those who were confused my statements. having caps season ticket is defintely worth it in the 2ndary market

Posted by: skinfan2k | March 8, 2011 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Regarding the Redskins claim of not having raised their prices since 2006. That is not exactly true. Yes, general admission seat prices may have stayed the same, BUT, there are yearly increase of 3% and 6% for the club and premium seats at FedUp Field. The percentage increase depends on how long a sentence (or as the team calls it 'a contract') you have for your seats.

Posted by: bbmcoachk | March 8, 2011 2:28 PM | Report abuse

The NHL regular season is nothing but a fund raiser for the owners. It's a waste of money just like the NFL pre-season. I don't go to Skins or Caps games anymore and I don't miss a thing.

Posted by: DCFanatic | March 8, 2011 1:00 PM | Report abuse

yeah, they should skip the NHL regular season and go right to the playoffs. that makes sense. never anything fun to watch during the regular season..

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | March 8, 2011 2:46 PM | Report abuse

As a season ticket holder, you just have to surround yourself with co-workers and friends that want to catch a game here or there. You can easily get rid of games you dont want and enjoy the full season.

Wizards tickets are about as worthless as they come, so you might as well go Caps, even if you are not a hard core fan.

Posted by: SA-Town | March 8, 2011 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Another advantage of Caps season tickets (in addition to paying less than face value) is not paying Ticketmaster's extortionary fees.

Season ticket holders pay fees to Ticketmaster if they sell on their secondary market (TicketExchange) or they pay stubhub's fees for selling there.

Posted by: jetaimelescaps | March 8, 2011 4:38 PM | Report abuse

It sucks, but it just means I'll sell some of the premium games.

It's hard to complain when your ticket to Caps v. Flyers that you bought paid $75 for sells on StubHub or the secondary market for $200.

Posted by: wahoo_Mike | March 9, 2011 12:15 PM | Report abuse

"

The NHL regular season is nothing but a fund raiser for the owners. It's a waste of money just like the NFL pre-season. I don't go to Skins or Caps games anymore and I don't miss a thing.

Posted by: DCFanatic | March 8, 2011 1:00 PM | Report abuse

yeah, they should skip the NHL regular season and go right to the playoffs. that makes sense. never anything fun to watch during the regular season..

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | March 8, 2011 2:46 PM | Report abuse"
-->You are both right to some extents in your arguments.

I personally think NHL/NBA regular seasons are the equivalent of the "group play" stage of the World Cup. Half the teams are eliminated after the regular season. And as we saw with the Caps last year, what's the reward for winning the President Trophy? getting ousted in the first round.

I think the NHL/NBA would do themselves more of a service if they followed the baseball model and actually made the regular season count for something.

That being said, I think NHL players give a lot more effort than NBA players. It's very exciting to watch the players play even if it's regular season. The Winter Classic was one of my favorite sporting events to watch in recent memory as was the Super Bowl Sunday Pens-Caps match in 2010.

Posted by: break20 | March 9, 2011 12:28 PM | Report abuse

This is another one of those bandwagoner issues. I've had season tickets for many years, and Ted didn't raise the prices while the team was bad. Now that they're good, he can and is. I have no problem supporting him and appreciate how he has treated the fans over the years.

Posted by: farmgirl19C | March 9, 2011 12:47 PM | Report abuse

This is another one of those bandwagoner issues. I've had season tickets for many years, and Ted didn't raise the prices while the team was bad. Now that they're good, he can and is. I have no problem supporting him and appreciate how he has treated the fans over the years.

Posted by: farmgirl19C | March 9, 2011 12:48 PM | Report abuse

I only am able to get to a couple of games away (I live 3 hrs south of DC) and would love to see the Caps do something about getting rid of services like Ticketmaster. We had $17 added to each of 4 tickets ($68 total) as a service fee for this Sundays game with Chicago. I wish I could get tickets directly from the Caps and not these extortionists. Go Caps!

Posted by: Kdog17 | March 9, 2011 3:05 PM | Report abuse

I only am able to get to a couple of games away (I live 3 hrs south of DC) and would love to see the Caps do something about getting rid of services like Ticketmaster. We had $17 added to each of 4 tickets ($68 total) as a service fee for this Sundays game with Chicago. I wish I could get tickets directly from the Caps and not these extortionists. Go Caps!

Ted owns the Ticketmaster franchise now too, so wishful thinking, but not gonna happen...

The prices for the Caps aren't bad when you consider (as many have said) how much you can profit by reselling them. I have Wizards tix and wish I could command that kind of money, there's only maybe 4-6 Wiz games a year you can make a good profit on. With the Caps, even with a non-marquee game you can make some money on them, so the season ticket price is all relative.

Posted by: HOOLIE1 | March 10, 2011 9:38 AM | Report abuse

I am a club seat holder and my out of pocket prices for next year went up 45%!!
This may be a sign of the great deal I was getting in the two year contract I had for the last two seasons, but it definitely made me think twice about renewing. In the end I decided not to renew, but not entirely due to the price increase. With the elimination of price floors on the season ticket exchange next year, I'm sure I could have sold enough tickets to make up for the price increase.

Surprising nobody has mentioned it yet, but a substantial part of my increase is due to the 10% DC admissions tax that got tacked on this year. Not sure if it's new, but I don't recall paying it in past years.

Posted by: CapsHead91 | March 10, 2011 9:46 AM | Report abuse

I also don't remember paying that 10% dc tax before. Maybe it wasn't itemized the last few years. One important thing to remember is all the perks that you get as a STH. Besides the discount & access to playoff tickets, there's the gifts. My room is filled with great stuff from the caps. Every time I look at my posters & framed piece of the net from OV's record setting goal I'm reminded how great it is to be a STH. In Pittsburgh in the Hotel lobby you could pick everyone out by the Caps duffle bag & red windbreakers, it felt great. PS I'm missing tonights game because someone bought my 1 seat way over face on TicketExchange.

Posted by: cyberjaphe | March 11, 2011 2:42 PM | Report abuse

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