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Chicago Blackhawks’ Cost Of Winning May Have Caught Up With Fans

agoldschmidt
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 10: A ticket for Game Four of the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Tampa Bay Lightning is held up in the bowl at the United Center after the Blackhawks defeated the Lightning 2-1 on June 10, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 10: A ticket for Game Four of the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Tampa Bay Lightning is held up in the bowl at the United Center after the Blackhawks defeated the Lightning 2-1 on June 10, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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CHICAGO, IL – JUNE 10: A ticket for Game Four of the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Tampa Bay Lightning is held up in the bowl at the United Center after the Blackhawks defeated the Lightning 2-1 on June 10, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL – JUNE 10: A ticket for Game Four of the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Tampa Bay Lightning is held up in the bowl at the United Center after the Blackhawks defeated the Lightning 2-1 on June 10, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The Chicago Blackhawks’ recent successes have been rewarding for the the team, the NHL and the city of Chicago, but have come at a hefty cost to fans — a cost some are willing to part with in 2017-18

It’s truly amazing to think of how far the Chicago Blackhawks have come as a franchise.

In what Forbes.com called “The Greatest Sports-Business Turnaround Ever,” Rocky Wirtz, John McDonough and company have not only rescued the Chicago hockey franchise from the depths of losing, they have created an infectious craze for hockey throughout the Chicagoland area.

Such was shown this month during the 10th Annual Chicago Blackhawks Convention, where fans flocked the Hilton Chicago hotel to meet their favorite players and interact in activities that were fun for the whole family.

Great.

While this transition for the Blackhawks from rags to riches for some has been life-changing, for others it has felt like a word that continues to be a subject of much controversy — gentrification.

I’m not a die-hard Blackhawks fan. I haven’t been since the 70s or however long ago these disgruntled “’Hawks lifers” grudgingly tell me on Twitter that they’ve been.  I was lucky enough to buy a nine-game package when I was 19 years old in 2009-10, the year they won their first Stanley Cup in almost 50 years.  And boy was that a different time.

I remember getting my first invoice for my ticket package. It was $450 for two seats behind the net in the 300 Level. That came to $25 per seat. I’m not sure you can even park for that much anymore.

What I remember was being in a section full of mostly overweight older gentlemen in leather Blackhawks jackets shouting obscenities from the rafters, thinking the ants on the ice would have a chance at hearing their ruthless insults. Traditions like chanting ” De-troit sucks” and “Sucks!” after the announcement of every player in the away team’s starting lineup have slowly dissipated.

Although those cold chants are associated with hopeless teams, I do miss the heckling which has been thwarted by the ‘Hawks due to the family-friendly atmosphere that has been created with the “New Blackhawks” culture.

Chicago Blackhawks

I received an email last week from the Blackhawks and for the first time I was offered to expand my ticket package to four seats, or move my two seats to the 100 Level for a 21-game package.

I first inquired about the 21-game package, but had to stop my representative mid-sentence knowing it would be way out of my price range. Then I thought, why are these tickets becoming available for the first time in eight years?

My rep said general things like people moving away and getting married were the reasons behind the extra tickets, but I didn’t believe him.  He also said they were taking back more single-game tickets and offering those to package holders.

Finally when I asked if I wasn’t interested, my rep said waitlist members would be offered the tickets.

I’m sure people move away and get married and move to the suburbs all the time, but who gives up Blackhawks tickets now? Plus, there were so many that they sent an email to everybody with a partial plan. Then it dawned on me — it may be so much more than this.

Next we’ll talk about the reasons for a possible drop-off in fan interest as far as going to ‘Hawks games, including a new team look, the cost of going to games and increased sporting events competition in Chicago.

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