Avalanche Attendance: Straight From the Horses Mouth

It doesn’t take much for me to get off on a tangent these days. I don’t know why, but it seems like I see something I don’t like, or something I think is flat out wrong, and I don’t feel like letting it go.

Greg Wyshynski’s AOL FanHouse post about the attendance at the Avalanche games is one such example. I wasn’t very happy with his post, and have already shown some examples of the ticket prices, and how they compare to other teams in the league, in similar situations, and in situations that tracked closer to the Avalanche a few years ago.

One of the things the comparison lacked was what the prices laid out on ticketmaster actually translated to. What seats, for how much, and how many are there. Well, this post aims to correct that.

From the ticket information page on the Colorado Avalanche website:

Screenshot 01-19

I called the box office (again, how hard is the research here? not hard at all), to see what they meant by “Season Ticket Single Game.” I was told, while they were looking at the same numbers as I was, that these were the prices that would be paid walking into the box office and buying a ticket for a single game. So, now that you see the prices, what do you get for your money?
Screenshot 02-6

There’s your seating chart, with color coding as to where the prices translate to. Notice that those $26 dollar tickets are in the last five rows (info from the box office again) on the ends of the upper bowl. If you don’t want to sit on the ends, you will cough up $57 dollars.

Where did the Fan Cost Index get their average ticket price? Oh, yeah, from the season ticket prices, and only the ones that are not considered luxury suites.

Average ticket price represents a weighted average of season ticket prices for general and club-level seats, determined by factoring the tickets in each price range as a percentage of the total number of seats in each stadium. Luxury suite sales are excluded from the survey. Season-ticket pricing is used for any team that offers some or all tickets at lower prices for customers who buy season tickets.

These days, just about every ticket can be considered luxury.

At this time, I cannot give you an average ticket price for each seat in the house, because I don’t have the number of seats sold at each price level, but the average ticket price across the available prices is $94.25. Take out the club seat prices, and you have an average of $92. That’s a far cry from the $38.48 the FCI claims. In fact, according to the Avs own website, there is only one ticket price below the FCI average.

What about those of us who are cheap? I have sat in the club level twice, and lower level once, but my income puts me squarely in the balcony. The average price in the balcony is $47.06. Again, well above the number the FCI works with. To sit in the lower level, you aren’t getting in for less than $93. The average price for the “loge” – AKA lower bowl – is $134.40. Again, I’m just using the numbers provided by the Avalanche on their own website.

What does this mean? Well, let’s talk about what is being said by the bloggers. From the Wyshynski post:

Dater writes that Denver’s economic downturn is a primary factor, but it’s not like the Avalanche were fleecing fans to begin with. The last Fan Cost Index from Team Marketing Report had Colorado below the League average and even the Islanders and Blue Jackets.

Since the FCI is being invoked as the backbone of the pricing conclusion made, it’s the FCI I have a problem with. Other people have problems with the FCI as well. This is from Baseball Prospectus. While I don’t know much about the site, it shows that someone else has looked at the FCI, which looks at the four big sports, and was not impressed:

One of the biggest weaknesses in the FCI is its use of “average-priced tickets” as a benchmark. By using the price paid by season-ticket holders for a particular seat, even if the price is higher when the seat is sold on a per-game basis, the FCI understates the cost of tickets for the average fan. Moreover, in many markets the “average-priced ticket” is irrelevant to the actual options available for casual fans attending a game on short notice, who must either buy from scalpers or wind up in the cheap seats. Last year 10 clubs sold fewer than half their available tickets, while the Giants, Cubs and Red Sox played to over 90% of capacity.

Oh, good, I’m not the only one who thinks the FCI is a problem. Well, that and the attitude of some people that there is no way money could be a reason for fans not to buy tickets. I mean, it’s not like the economy is in trouble, or people are having money problems, right?

Faced with growing risks of recession, the Federal Reserve made its second deep interest-rate cut in a week and slashed a key short-term rate by a half-percentage point Wednesday.


The Federal Reserve’s decision to cut interest rates by a half-percentage point Wednesday sent the dollar lower against the euro and the yen, but the Fed is not the only problem for an already battered dollar.

That can’t be good.

The dollar sank to a two-month low against a basket of currencies on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve cut benchmark interest rates a half percentage point and warned more may be needed to support the faltering U.S. economy.
The move comes just eight days after the U.S. central bank unexpectedly cut its lending rate by three quarters of a point to boost an economy battered by a deep housing slump and a persistent credit crisis.
“The language in the (Fed’s) statement was fairly strong, suggesting the Fed is still worried with the possibility of further deterioration in the U.S. economy,” said Mark Meadows, analyst at Tempus Consulting in Washington, D.C.

OK, so I see a trend here.

But you know, it can’t be the economy or anything. I mean, a recent downturn in the economy, that couldn’t explain what’s going on in Detroit, or Colorado, or New Jersey, or Nashville, or any other city. Hey, remember when, not too long ago, it was the Canadian cities that had problems, and the Canadian dollar was blamed. It was even reported that players did not want to be signed to Canadian teams because it translated to lower salaries due to the weakness of the Canadian dollar.

I don’t know what the FanHouse is paying these days, but for most people, NHL hockey tickets are luxury items. They aren’t as necessary as food, shelter, or car payments. But for some reason, the attendance issue couldn’t possibly be about money. I mean, the FCI says so. It’s all affordable, right?

Yeah, not so much.

I have some more spunk in me still. I don’t think I’m done. Next, more reasons for the Avs to have attendance problems, some of which deal with money, and some of which don’t.


  1. Bob in Boulder says:

    Thank you again for doing the legwork. I prefer just ranting and spewing out general “wtf”s. There is absolutely no rational way that anyone could justify an “average ticket price” in the Pepsi Center for Av games of $38. The FCI, at least for the Avs, is absolute garbage. Why the dude on fanhouse can’t see this is beyond me. One of the Av beat writers told me the real Av ticket price average is the second highest in the league. I wish one of them would do a little investigative reporting and uncover this crap. I think it could be a marketing ploy (called lying, I guess) by the Avs to try to convince us that the Avs are relatively affordable.

  2. Bob – I just get started on a rant, and I have to get it out of my system. This is just a function of that, so you guys get the benefit. Anytime you wnat to spew general “wtf’s” around here, be my guest. It’s great to see fans who care come by and not just buy into the BS.

    To be fair to Greg at FanHouse, the fine print on the FCI sucks, and it is easy to whip out the numbers and run with, so I would give him a little pass, if he recognized the FCI is garbage and swore it off completely. But at least he is doing a little – even if it’s not enough – research, unlike other FanHouse bloggers who just ask the fans what the problem is, and then simply blow them off when they don’t get the answer they want.

    The only thing that bugs me is that the FanHouse, which is an overall good blog, has plenty of readers, but I have only a handful, and my work on this isn’t going to be seen. But the “despeate” posts will. This is as much my fault as anything, since I do not post every day, “work the phones” (do all the little blogger tricks to get more readers), and cry wolf to get an inflated sense of urgency (which does not bring in sustainable readership who care about what you write all the time). The FanHouse is what sticks to the wall, and not good research.

    I would not be surprised if the Avs were quietly keeping the info about ticket prices to themselves. They do everything quietly, and I think it is kicking them in the ass. Where is Joe Sakic? He isn’t allowed to talk to the media since he is injured. The most marketable player in Denver is kept out of the media?

    The Avs have to start selling their team. They can start by selling it at a price people can afford.

  3. hockeychic says:

    O.k. I know this is an Avs blog but the similarities between the Avs ticket problems and the Red Wings ticket problems can not be ignored (well at least by me). I have been a season ticket holder for the Avs since Day 1. A group of us share two 14 game fan plans. First season they were $15 a ticket. Now, 11 years later, it is $38 at ticket. We have had problems over the years and the Avs ticket office is a nightmare to deal with, not fan friendly at all.

    The Avs do not market the team very well. This is the same problem the Red Wings have. Neither team has a lot of public acessibility. The Wings have been good for so long, I guess the organization figured they didn’t have to market them. Ditto, the Avs. They won the Cup right off the bat, instant hot ticket. Now the economy is in the tank (more so in Michigan than Colorado) and both teams are still charging very high prices for tickets. It used to be that I would buy a few lower bowl seats every year to complement my fan plan seats and have some fun. I stopped doing that because I could not afford it anymore. Heck I have to split my share of the fan plans because of how expensive it is. A few weeks ago at the Avs/Islanders game, by buddy who has season tickets and is nice enough to take me to some games and I were upgraded to the lower bowl. These tickets had a face value of $121. We were last row but it was still behind the players bench and a bit over. I can not imagine how someone could pay for two of those tickets plus parking plus concessions without going into major debt. As you said, it has become a luxury.

    Sorry for the long post. Great work on your part, Tape.

  4. Spectacular post.

    I recently visited the Avs website to shop for tickets. Remember, I’ve gotta hike from the OKC to see an Avs game at the The Can. TicketMaster couldn’t do any better than $83/seat. I quickly gave up on the idea of attending an Avs game. Hell, the Southwest ticket is $89 dollars! You’re telling me, with the shape the economy is in, that I can fly from OKC to Denver for the same price as nosebleeds at an Avs game? That’s redunkulous.

  5. I don’t know what the FanHouse is paying these days…

    Well, if I write two posts, I can buy a beer at the Honda Center. If I write one post, I can buy a beer outside of Honda Center.

    Nice work on the data, though.

  6. Hockeychic – You are so right, you should do a guest post here about it. The Red Wings are in the same situation as the Avs, but even more so. The Wings have a better record, but have a worse economy around them. They have better ticket prices, but more expensive merch in the Joe. There are plenty of similarities between the two teams situations. And any fan of the other baseball teams in MLB can tell you, the only team almost exactly like the Yankees are the Red Sox.

    Mike – And how much does it cost to go to an Oklahoma City Blazers game? Cheap, cheap, cheap. But if you are in Denver when I am, I will buy you that beer. Or when I make it down to OKC, April of 09.

    Earl – Where’s my beer? Thanks, though.

  7. cupster33 says:

    I put your post up here to help with the lack of readers tape.


  8. As usual good work Tape

  9. Just to compliment your current post I wanted to give you a taste of what it’s like here in San Jose.

    When my wife switched jobs to come out here from Denver to San Jose, she was given about a 15% raise to cover cost of living increases. Home prices here are easily double what they are in the Denver area. The point? It costs a lot more to do anything here in San Jose than it does in Denver.

    Yet here are the prices for tickets to a Sharks game

    Just to put that in perspective, the cheapest tickets are 27% more expensive in Denver (where the cost of living is less) than in San Jose. Center ice upper deck are 18% more expensive and behind the goal, lower deck (not near the ice) are 27% more expensive in Denver than in SJ.

    For those of you who have been to the Bay Area, NOTHING is cheaper here than in Denver. Mid grade gas in San Jose is about $3.25/Gallon right now. While in Denver it is about $2.90. That’s about 11% cheaper in Denver. Moving here I spend twice the rent for 1/2 the house. Hockey tickets are the first thing I have ever found to be cheaper in SJ than in Denver.

  10. Bob in Boulder says:

    Obviously, jibble, you have not been drinking enough of the FCI koolaid. Blindly follow it, my son, as fabricated and worthless as it may be. Then post away on fanhouse and treat it as gospel, as the FCI, not the truth, will set you free.

    Btw, Frei actually wrote in his blog that the real average ticket price for the Avs is second highest in the NHL. But that would be using reality instead of the FCI. Shame on him.

  11. I really liked the way they came off

  12. I was shocked at Mikes post, The plan ticket costs as much as nosebleed seats to the game. I am in LA where everything is expensive and our hockey tickets are around the same prices. Granted different cities, different teams, but its just a different market where I dont think ticket prices should be comparable at all.

  13. marketing jobs can really earn you lots of dollars but most of the time, it is a difficult job ::~

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