More on Empty Seats, Mitch Albom

Mitch Albom rants about the empty seats at the Joe in a column today.

Over at BtJ, Joe Hass has a guest blog tearing into Albom for it. He said a lot of things I agree with but I feel the need to chime in.

I differ from Joe in that I like the Mitch Albom of old. Albom's columns from the 1998 run in particular. The Mitch Albom of today I hardly read 'cause I don't read the Freep anymore. I've been told I'm not missing much.

Albom gives the predictable argument of "Times are tough but if we can't sell out playoff games we shouldn't be called Hockeytown." Well, I've given my thoughts on that title before, so I won't argue with him there.

Joe touched on how the cheapest Wings playoff tickets are more expensive than the most expensive Lions tickets. Let me break down the costs a little more, using my own trip last night as an example.

I got on Ticketmaster's web site right when tickets went on sale last Friday at 10:00 AM. The cheapest seats available were $140 each. That would be section 208, center ice, halfway up the upper bowl. Great seats (aside from the people behind us spilling their beer all over the place) but that starts us at a cost of $280 for two of us to go.

Since I bought the tickets through Ticketmaster (I'm in Lansing, going down to the box office in the middle of a workday isn't an option), there was a $6 "convenience charge" on each ticket and an "order processing charge" of $4.30 on the whole order putting it at $296.30. To round things out, since I actually wanted to have tickets in my hand before leaving for the game, there was a $14.50 shipping fee. I could have left the tickets at will-call for a dollar or printed them myself for $2.50 but that puts me at a total of $310.80 just to get in the door.

Driving in from Lansing takes about a tank of gas. Given that cost these days, there's another $50, but I'll call it $40 since it wasn't the whole tank. Total so far, $350.80.

Getting to the Joe, parking is another $15 at the JLA structure. We're up to $365.80 and that's just to get to the arena and get in.

I won't count the jersey I bought 'cause anyone can cut that cost out but at this point it's 6:00 and we're hungry. Tack on $5 each for two slices of pizza (admittedly, they were rather big slices and pretty tasty) and a $3 bottle of water that we shared and didn't even get to keep the cap for. We're at $363.80.

Trying to cut costs, we didn't get any more food throughout the game, so we made it out at that number but I needed a snack to keep me awake on the drive home. Another $10 at McDonalds and we round out the night at a grand total of $373.80.

So for only two people, that's nearly $400 to go to just one game.

This was my first playoff game of the season because, while I think I make decent money, I can't justify spending that much more than a couple times (even once was a stretch but I consider myself dedicated).

So, Mr. Albom, you've got all of the answers. Enlighten me. How should I magically be able to afford this trip several times a week? Don't worry, I don't expect you to answer. There is no way. And you should realize that before you insult the Wings fans that try to make it work.

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Sad but true reality. Sports is pricing itself out of the reach of the common man and I fear they could eventually alienate themselves. It's bad enough that it's so expensive to go in person, but several Canadian teams had pay per view regular season games this season. Are you kidding me, pay per view for games where often one team, if not both is just mailing it in?

In the more mainstream US sports, TV revenue pretty much pays the bills for the ludicrous contracts given out and the Joe Schmo money lines the owners pockets. It is hard not to be resentful that Datsyuk is making almost 7 mil a season playing a game when your $400 is so damn hard earned.

I think the Wings need to look at their market and reconsider their pricing structure.

People going to the game will spend, ticket charge just gets em in the door. I would think, as your story went Clark, that concession sales are probably poor as people are spending their money up front. If the tickets were cheaper, they would still make their sales through concessions, especially from the people in those empty seats.

Time to change the thread to Stormo Babbles Again...lol

Posted by Stormo on 5/9/2008 at 1:18 PM


And ridiculously, the Wings seem to be looking at raising ticket prices for next year.

All of their season ticket marketing says if you buy now you'll lock in your tickets at this years rates. Why would that matter if they didn't plan on raising them?

And I agree that people would spend more money inside the arena if it didn't cost so much to get through the door. Maybe we wouldn't have split that water, we would have each had one, and added some ice cream later. More people would buy t-shirts or pucks or other pieces of crap that the team would make a fortune on.

The jersey I bought was because the only place you can find jerseys with the Yzerman Night patch is at the Joe (maybe also Hockeytown Authentics, haven't been down there). Have more stuff like that and you'll sell more crap inside the arena.

Albom's story is getting around. Bill at A2Y has posted his thoughts (I agree with him). I would love to see what Albom's response is but you know he won't give one. Chickensh*t.

Posted by YzerFan19 on 5/9/2008 at 1:40 PM


Well, if you guys haven't heard already, Don Cherry is on ESPN for the rest of the playoffs. Tonight they talked about the Wings games not selling out and Cherry said that it wasn't because of the economy. He said the reason for empty seats is because of the brand of hockey out there now and that wings fans like gritty hard nose hockey and not the new NHL with all the penalties. I ain't exactly buying this explanation, it's pretty bad in Michigan. He also threw in there that us fans like "redneck" hockey which I have no clue what that means.

Posted by RideTheRedWave on 5/10/2008 at 3:29 AM


Cherry's a tool anyway. Someone at A2Y put it as he's "what the mute button is for."

He's railing into Holmstrom for not hitting back in that post-whistle scrum that gave the Wings their early five-on-three. Saying that because the Wings don't retaliate, the fans don't like the team.

Dumbass. Holmstrom didn't retaliate and it gave Detroit a five-on-three. On which they scored. I'll take a goal over a punch any day. You'd think that someone who had been around hockey for so long would understand that the scoreboard reads the number of goals, not the number of punches.

The Red Wings play an incredibly disciplined game compared to other teams and it gets them more power plays. Power plays are always good. And the Wings' power play is incredibly fun to watch.

If that's not good enough for Cherry, maybe he should pick another sport.

Posted by YzerFan19 on 5/10/2008 at 9:56 AM


I can't figure out which one is louder his clothes or his mouth. The only redneck I see in this case is Cherry. Who wears a pink suit on TV anyway? That guy should be wearing a helmet!

I am not sure why everybody lilkes him, I have watched coaches corner on Hockey Night in Canada and I agree that is what the mute button is for.

His big claim to fame is that he was the coach of the Colorado Rockies back in the 60's or whenever it was. I don't care, that guy is a tool and if ESPN wanted to do something to suppot the Hockey season they should have gone out and picked up somebody with a little more class. Not that jackass! So much for Hockey Games on ESPN next season.

The prices are ridiculous I'll give you that much. With the price of gas in SOCAL it costs that much to get a lower bowl seat for one person plus the drive from Fallbrook (Where I live) to either Anaheim or LA. And that does not include food or drinks which are just a ridiculous as the gas prices

Posted by SYfanSD on 5/10/2008 at 12:32 PM


I think Cherry's point had some merit, but as usual, he said it in a manner that was controversial and stupid. Detroit celebrated the grind line while pretty much shunning the talent of Sergei Fedorov (and of course the off-ice circus that went with it.)

Rather than rednecked, he shouldn't went with another colour and said blue-collared town. How else do you explain the ballyhoo that went with McCarty's return? No five minute player in the NHL gets as much ink.

Bobby Clarke (another jackass) was talking about the Leafs GM/coaching job during the second intermission and said that the person the Leafs brought in had to suit the market, Cherry was just saying the product on the ice has to as well. It's sad that winning is not enough to fill the seats, but with prices, economy and other factors, I guess it's not.

Posted by Stormo on 5/10/2008 at 1:36 PM


I think there's a difference between an off-ice story and the on-ice product that draws us to the games.

While the Grind Line still is a great story (especially with McCarty's return), does anyone who knows what they're talking about really want the Wings to roll four Grind Lines?

McCarty gets the press, Datsyuk and Zetterberg get the highlights.

We like our stars to be quiet. Look no further than Stevie Y. I'd say that Datsyuk and Zetterberg are better than he was after he became a two-way player but you never heard complaints about Yzerman being too soft.

Posted by YzerFan19 on 5/10/2008 at 1:41 PM


Agree or disagree with Grapes, his comments made CBC's coverage must watch TV tonight. Even with these comments when I hear Don Cherry and Detroit, I think of him waving that big octopus. I guess now he would be fined 10K.

Posted by Stormo on 5/10/2008 at 2:46 PM


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