NHL Teams Charge a Big Premium for Glass Seats, But All is Not Transparent

Oct 12, 2011



Growing up I was mostly a basketball and football fan, hockey wasn’t even on my radar. As I have gotten older though, I have come to slowly appreciate hockey more and more, and would most certainly rather get NHL tickets then tickets to watch America’s excruciatingly slow pastime (sorry baseball fans…).

So definitely not a diehard fan, but from what I hear, no one should form a judgment on the NHL until they have seen it live. There is something about the glass, ice, fighting and overall raucous environment (they are allowed to have fun and be emotional unlike the NFL) that makes live hockey truly unique. And within this environment, front row glass seats are to some the pinnacle of live sports viewing.

With that in mind, I wanted to look at what team’s are charging for front row glass seats versus the seats just row one back. SeatGeek’s ticketing data, as you will see, shows that people are certainly willing to pay more for a glass seat versus a 2nd row seat, but not all team’s are capitalizing on this in their pricing.

On the other end of the spectrum some team’s might be overvaluing the premium people will pay. So let’s look at the face value numbers team by team, but first let’s quickly look at the value proposition from a straight pros/cons perspective less economics. Oh and real quick, I half added the line about transparency to be whimsical but was also half baffled about the lack of updated pricing information on Official NHL websites. ~10/30 teams listed proper seating charts with pricing and many that are using variable or dynamic pricing failed to mention this on the ticketing sections of their sites. Ok enough of my complaints, moving on.

Is it REALLY a better experience to sit on the glass?

Pros of Sitting on the Glass

  • First off, you get to bang on the glass…the monkey in all of us can’t deny the fun in that

  • You truly get to appreciate the speed and aggressiveness of the game (in fact you can feel it at times when the action gets close

  • Continuing all the spectrum of the senses, the sound is just at a whole new level and I am not even getting into smell…wait that is probably a con

  • Game pucks tend to get flicked into the lower seats

Cons of Sitting on the Glass

  • Visibility: Refs can get in the way and you can’t use peripherals to your advantage

  • Inconsistent temperate, have to layer up

Whether or not the pros outweigh the cons are for you to decide, but the prices indicate the perceived value is there and people are in fact paying up to sit right on the glass or else the majority of team’s wouldn’t execute this pricing strategy. Let’s look at the data.

Premiums Charged For Glass Seats vs the 2nd Row by Team

Glass: $4102nd Row: $185, 200 for premium gameshttp://blackhawks.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=72599105% – 121% premium

Minnesota Wild

Montreal Canadiens

Front Row: $2492nd Row Center: $2032nd Row Sides: $19223% – 30% premium

Ottawa Senators

Front Row Center: $150, $225, $3002nd Row Center: $ 190 $ 150 120Front Row Sides: $ 300.00 $ 225.00 $ 150.002nd Row Sides (visitor): $ 175.00 $ 100.00 $ 95.002nd Row Sides (home): $ 160.00 $ 85.00 $ 85.00

St. Louis Blues

Front Glass Row: $230, $270, $3402nd Glass Row: $170, $200, $25035-36% premium for glass row versus the 2nd rowBe careful with at the Scottrade Center, because they have 4 “glass rows” but only glass row A is a true glass seat.

Calgary Flames

No prices difference indicated on their seating chart for the glass row? Seems really strange and a missed pricing opportunity as both primary and secondary market data suggests their is a profit opportunity to charge more here.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Glass Row: $2002nd Row: $95, $95, $75 depending on sectionHuge premiums at Nationwide Arena ranging between 111% and 186% for front row glass seats. In my opinion these are overpriced and you will be able to find front row seats below face value on the secondary market right here at SeatGeek.

Colorado Avalanche

Glass Row: $2182nd row: $14748% premium

Nashville Predators

Glass Row: $2802nd row: $19047% premium

Detroit Red Wings

Glass Row: $2002nd row: $95, $110, $125 depending on location60% – 111% premium

New York Islanders

No premium charged. It is actually more expensive to sit in the back of the 100 level sections than the front. Not really sure what the thought is there. I guess a better viewing angle, but is contrary to almost all other pricing strategies.

New Jersey Devils

Glass Row: $3002nd row: $125140% premium

Edmonton Oilers

No premium charged

Winnipeg Jets

They charge $155 for the first four rows and $113 for subsequent rows in the sectionNot the same, but this is a 37% premium

Ok so you can see how team’s compare to eachother, but how does this compare to premiums across all of major sports? We tapped into our database to look at face value premiums for all teams in all major sports for 1st row tickets over second row tickets…let’s look at the data

Average First Row Ticket Price Premiums

  1. We have a pretty comprehensive database of face value data so we tapped into this and isolated all tickets that were the front row of their respective sections

  2. We then grabbed the 2nd row face values from the corresponding sections

  3. Lastly we looked at the average premiums charged across these thousands of sections in venues across North America

In the end, we determined that there is a 62% premium charged for 1st row seats over second row seats on average. So if you are well off, but can sacrifice a couple of feet, you can save big bucks. Also you will noticed by comparing this to the team analysis above that teams fluctuate wildly over and under this average.

Ok ok, but how do different sports compare to each other? Well this is the same thing I asked myself. Unfortunately time is running up on the day and I don’t feel like running any more queries so you going to have to stay tuned for part II of this post where we look at how the different leagues treat pricing on their most premium tickets.