One way or another, the Florida Panthers will be a very different team on the ice next season, even if those changes might not get them any closer to a playoff berth. They’ll have a slew of new (and largely unproven) forwards, some pricey veteran defensemen and a brand new No. 1 goalie in 2011-12. Apparently the franchise is banking on a serious revival among latent fans by next summer, because their 2012-13 “Club Red” plan represents price increases that are just as radical as their roster renovations.
The Winnipeg Free Press reports that Panthers season ticket holders in three of the BankAtlantic Center’s “prime sections” received a letter from the team that detailed dramatic price jumps for the 2012-13 season. The team plans to convert three sections – 134, 101 and 102 – to “Club Red,” which will be an “ultra-premium, all-inclusive” area for events at the arena.
Unfortunately, those “ultra-premium, all-inclusive” seats come at some hyper-ludicrous prices. Just read about the monetary impact one long-time Panthers fan named Allyn White would have to deal with to keep the “best seats in the house.”
The price to join the exclusive club rocked White like a blindside check. He said he was told his seats would cost $22,500 apiece, which would cover other events at BAC in addition to Panthers games. He said he paid about $5,000 for two seats at center ice in row 15 for the upcoming hockey season.
“I’ve been a season-ticket holder since Day 1 in Miami. I’ve never missed a game. You’re telling me too bad, your $5,000 tickets are now going to be $45,000?” said White, who runs a travel agency in Fort Lauderdale. “I don’t want to sit in the corners. I don’t want to sit in row 3. I sit in … prime seats, which I’ve earned. I’ve got the best seats in the house.”
Yeah, it’s pretty reasonable that White is upset with a 9x increase in his ticket prices. This seems like a ridiculously bold move for a team that hasn’t made the postseason in ages, especially since they run the risk of estranging some of their most passionate fans. Maybe the Panthers assume that they’re going to make a whole new batch of them during this pivotal season?
Panthers president Michael Yormark is known for finding some off-the-beaten path ways to make money, so it’s no surprise that he’s pumping up the idea.
“Obviously, it’s going to be a significant revenue generator for the organization. We also think it’s going to create a very unique experience for those people that become members,” said Michael Yormark, president and COO of the Panthers. “We did do focus groups, we talked to our season-seat holders. This was not something that was done in haste.”
For those prices, it better be a “very unique” experience for members and there better be some amazing food and beverages available. To be honest, I wouldn’t be impressed unless they had Tyrannosaurus Rex eggs on the menu, but “Club Red” members might end up being easier to please.