Saturday, May 30, 2015

Money, Love, and Fans.

When you have season tickets for a hockey team you purchase all games for an entire season.  So, in an 82 game season you are responsible for buying 41 tickets for the home contests ahead of time.  Given today's prices--and assuming you are not going alone--we are talking about at least an $8000.00 after taxes cost.

If your team is successful to the extent that it makes the playoffs, then a season ticket owner has the option of purchasing the playoff tickets. These are sold at a higher rate.    In this year's Stanley Cup championship playoffs, a team like the New York Rangers could play an additional 16 games at home.   So the season ticket holder lays out another 3200. If the Rangers are eliminated at any point before the final series, the fan gets a refund for the games not played. If the Rangers are successful and win the Stanley Cup you are out the 3200 you laid out. These costs, of course, do not include the transportation expenses of getting to the games or the occasional hot dog or malt beverage that you might purchase while attending.  A hot dog and a cold one at Madison Square Garden can set a patron back close to twenty bucks.

I was not at Madison Square Garden last night, but I was there for game 5 on Sunday night the 24th. At that time, The Rangers were in the penultimate round of the playoffs, playing the Tampa Bay Lightning. The teams were tied 2-2 in the best of seven game series. The winner of the series would advance to the Stanley Cup finals. The loser would be eliminated.

The Ranger faithful were exuberant prior to the game. The area around Madison Square Garden was jumping with fans adorned in Ranger uniforms who were, regardless of where they were huddled---a restaurant, in a queue, lurking around the arena---occasionally breaking out into chants of Let's Go Rangers.

The atmosphere post game was not the same. The Rangers played lethargically and lost 2-0 to the Tampa Bay Lightning falling behind 3-2 in the best of 7 series.  The Rangers did come back in game 6 in Tampa defeating the Lightning easily.  This brought up the 7th game last night.  The atmosphere was electric before the contest.  High energy ready to explode once the Rangers scored.

No energy exploded. For the second time in two home games at MSG, the Rangers lost 2-0 to the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning will advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.  There were only two power plays in the game and the Rangers had both of them, yet they never came close to scoring while the Lightning--had it not been for the brilliant goalkeeping of Henrik Lundqvist--might have scored 6 goals. Lightning advances. Rangers go home.

I was told that at the end of the game the Garden was silent. Fans marched down the aisle as if in mourning. It is tough to understand if you are not a sports enthusiast--but if you are a fan--you know.

The thing is that every one of those sad squared season ticket holding New York Ranger fans dragging their bodies down the ramps at the Garden--every one--had saved at least between 500 and-1000  dollars.  Do you know many situations when people hang their heads despondently when they are given a thousand dollars?  Go try it at work. Tell the people who work for you that you are sorry but you just have to give them a thousand dollars.  See how blue they become.

The 1000.00 savings may have been something that some individuals in the glum crowd fetched to try to comfort the bruising of the loss.  As they lumbered down the ramps--"well at least, I saved a thousand dollars."  Whatever effect such a thought may have had did not last long.  The Rangers lost. They would not compete for the Stanley Cup.  The train or car ride back to home was a long sad one for the Ranger faithful.  The money did not matter much.

When it comes to sports and fandom, money is often trumped by love for the team to which you have allegiance.

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