Maple Leafs fans shouldn't expect a break on ticket prices if there is an NHL season this fall, but some clubs are contemplating reductions as a quick way to win back angry and disillusioned fans.
The Buffalo Sabres, hurting from a poor record and an ownership scandal well before the lockout, intend to maintain the league's lowest prices when play resumes.
Season-ticket holders will pay as little as $10 US a game for the upper bowl at HSBC Arena and $21 for the lower bowl, with individual prices to be determined once details of the NHL's new structure allows teams to better project their finances.
"We were already going to have the lowest prices even if there was a 2004-05 season," Sabres director of public relations Mike Gilbert said. "We have to do something to help this market."
The Sabres will also be introducing a system where seven premium home games such as the Leafs, will fetch a higher "gold" price, while silver, bronze and value dates (11 each) will be gradually reduced.
The Leafs, meanwhile, would only ensure that ticket prices would not increase next year. The top price is $182, with the lowest being $37.
"We don't know what the landscape will look like next season," Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment president Richard Peddie said. "Yes, salaries are coming down. But I don't know what we'll see in terms of a luxury tax, revenue sharing, the loss of ESPN (TV cash) ... we have a whole new set of economics."
The Ottawa Senators and San Jose are going to lower their prices. The Senators are committed to lowering their prices but won't say how much, while a spokesman for the Sharks said yesterday he anticipated a 10% drop in prices.
The Nashville Predators, one of the league's soft southern markets, have not announced a reduction, though one is being considered.
However, the New York Islanders distributed season-ticket invoices this week with no word of a cut.
They're also asking a $50 surcharge if subscribers don't pay in full by July 29.
The Isles had a significant price hike in 2003-04 and have yet to proceed with a makeover of aging Nassau Coliseum.