Flyers Tickets Cost Too Much

The team gouges fans despite a disappointing last season

The Flyers managed to steal a headline or two from the Phillies and Eagles this week with what NHL commissioner Gary Bettman called the “worst-kept secret” in the sport—the annual Winter Classic is officially coming to Citizens Bank Park on January 2nd. Details are sketchy regarding tickets, though you can bet the number of seats made available to the public will be scarce once the league, the teams, the corporate sponsors and the Phillies take their cut of the estimated 50,000 seats. That’s to be expected, since the Classic rivals the Stanley Cup playoffs in terms of demand and profile. StubHub hasn’t posted any tickets yet, but has a few starting at a budget-busting $477. At those rates, I’ll be watching on TV.

What’s more disappointing than the prospect of being frozen out of the Classic is the discovery that I’ve been priced out of the regular season as well. Last week, the Flyers announced a pre-sale for individual game tickets. I checked in with a few friends, circled some dates on the schedule, and when the buying began at 2 p.m. last Thursday, I was ready. The Flyers promised a “limited number of mezzanine level tickets,” but from what I found, “limited” translated to “virtually non-existent.” All of the games I checked out were sold out on the upper level. Of course, when I selected the “best available” option, Comcast-Spectacor kindly directed me to club box seats that run about $430 for a pair.

The whole thing felt like a bait-and-switch, as if the Flyers hope fans will get so frustrated with futile attempts to buy single-game seats that they’ll finally give in and pony up for season tickets. Making matters worse is that prices have gone up, starting at $81 (plus service charges, of course) for a seat in the last row in the house. Was there a Stanley Cup parade in the last 30 years that I missed? Some good news about the economy? Maybe parting ways with the Sixers has placed new pressure on the Flyers sales staff; otherwise, I can’t figure out how the team justifies their math, in the middle of a championship (and for their blue-collar fans, a financial) drought. For some Pattison Avenue perspective, it’s now cheaper to attend an Eagles home game (of which there are eight; $70 plus fees) than one of the 41 Flyers contests.

Only season-ticket holders get a discount: Those same row 15 seats are just $37 per game if you buy a full plan. The Flyers are also among the pioneers of “flex pricing,” so you pay more to see marquee match-ups with the Rangers or the Pens than a snoozer with the Predators. This is the sort of inflation you’d expect after a parade or two, not on the heels of a hugely disappointing season. The team faces plenty of questions when they open their latest campaign next Thursday. (Who will make up for the absence of Jeff Carter and Mike Richards? Can Chris Pronger stay healthy? Have they finally found their answer in goal with Ilya Bryzgalov? Will anyone else get voted off Dry Island?) It looks like I’ll learn the answers from the seat I can still afford—the one in my living room.