The cost of winning
As I mentioned earlier, my first partial plan cost me about $25 per seat which was located behind the net in the 300 Level. The most recent invoice prices those same tickets today at $72 per seat, which includes a discount for season ticket holders who don’t pay Ticketmaster fees. In the span of eight years from 2009 to 2018, these ticket prices have increased by 188 percent.
In that time the Blackhawks have done a lot of winning, they increased their media coverage significantly and added many amenities to the United Center including a renovation to the Club level, new food and drink options and the most recent team store and atrium.
According to Forbes.com’s 2016 NHL team valuations, the Blackhawks were valued at $925 million and ranked fourth in the league behind the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens and the New York Rangers.
With these upgrades and increased valuation also comes higher prices across the board to attend a ‘Hawks game at the United Center. University of Michigan Sports Management professor and author to Sports Economics Rodney Fort’s website shows a table of every NHL team’s Fan Cost Index (FCI). This figure represents the average cost for:
- Four average-priced tickets
- Two draft beers
- Four small soft drinks
- Four hot dogs
- Parking for one vehicle
- Two programs
- Two of the least-expensive hats
In the most recent data collection available in 2014-15, the Blackhawks’ FCI was $463.20. That number has probably increased in the last three years, with ticket prices increasing about 5 percent each year.
So what does all of this mean? It means a lot of people can’t afford to go to games anymore. The experience of hearing Jim Cornelison belt out the national anthem, watching Kane dangle opponents and seeing the ‘Hawks salute the fans at center ice after a win has been priced out of so many fans’ budgets that it’s only affordable to most on birthdays or rare celebratory occasions.