Friday, April 27, 2007

Who's watching the NHL playoffs?

To answer my question, if you go by attendance and TV ratings, maybe 15,000 people in Detroit. Sure, I'm being facetious, but the lack of interest shown in the Red Wings playoff run is striking.

The Red Wings can't sell out a 2nd round playoff game. Michael Rosenberg says in today's Freep that it may have been the worst playoff atmosphere he's ever seen in a Detroit facility. Dave at Gorilla Crouch fittingly compares us to Atlanta.

So just where are the fans? If you go by our local and state economy, probably trying to keep their homes from being foreclosed.

Honestly, I'm not surprised. I don't know how season ticket holders can afford buying full rounds in advance. The Red Wings brought it upon themselves by anal raping fans with their playoff price points. I sure as Hell can't afford to go. Most people I know either can't afford, or aren't willing to be bent over by the Wings.

Here's the ticket pricing straight off of

US $135.00 - US $153.00 (What would the Cup finals run? $400 and your 1st born?)

US $72.00 - US $135.00 (I'll guess that the $72 tix are the top 2 rows of the Joe. I've sat there plenty of times, they ain't worth that much)

US $77.00 (That's just criminal)

Jesus. I decided to see what 2 of best available tickets would run me...

Tickets (Detroit Red Wings Semifinals Round 2 Home Game 2)

FULL PRICE TICKET US $90.00 x 2 (Upper bowl seats, with the real fans...)

Total Convenience Charge(s) US $5.75 x 2 (Convenience my ass! I love this, $11.50 for just the opportunity to buy seats)

Order Processing Charge(s) US $4.25 (I have no idea what this is, as what are they actually processing? I'm going to get my tix at will call, or print them myself. This exists for no other reason than to twist the knife just a little more into your wallet)

TicketFast Delivery US $2.50 (Hilarious! This allows you pay for the privilege to print your tix!)

TOTAL CHARGES US $198.25 (Big Al looks in his wallet, sees...Not that much! About a $190 less...)

Whoa. $200 just to get in the door, and sit in the nosebleeds. When you factor in parking, beer, a couple of pretzels, it's $250+ for 2 people. If I had asked my dad back in the day to spend that kind of coin on a playoff game, he'd have asked me where we were getting the loan from.

The Red Wings finally reached the point where price + expectations - past performance - lockout - Pistons, Tigers, Lions + hubris = Fans not going to the Joe. They have priced themselves right out of their blue collar market.

As much as I enjoy hockey, I don't kid myself, unlike many hockey fanatics. Detroit is not "Hockeytown." That is nothing more than a marketing slogan. The NHL is, at best, number 5 in the sports pecking order in Detroit.

Just off the top of my head, I'll guess the order is this...

1. Lions - The NFL is king in this country. No ifs, ands, or buts. What's the hot topic this week? Not the NHL or NBA playoffs, not the Tigers, but the NFL draft.

2. Tigers - Detroit has always been a baseball town, and was the #1 team for much of my life. It took close to 2 decades of awful baseball to nearly kill it off, and only 1 summer of good baseball to bring it back to it's rightful place in the Detroit landscape.

3. Michigan football - If the NFL is king, NCAA football is the prince.

4. Pistons - The Pistons get it. The Palace is a great arena, a team that connects with the blue collar fanbase, and they don't screw you over (Nearly as much) at playoff time. The NBA has a much broader fanbase than the NHL, even in Detroit.

5a. Red Wings - Unfortunately, hockey is a niche sport. Even in the northern USA.

5b. NASCAR - Say what you will about cars making left turns, people watch NASCAR. Lots of people. Millions more than hockey.

I'll be honest. I watched maybe 10 minutes of the Red Wings game last night. The lack of energy at the Joe was palpable, even over the TV. It sounded dead, it felt dead, and after the Sharks scored twice, it was dead. After the 2nd Sharks goal, I could feel that the game was already over. If you've watched any playoff hockey, you knew it was over. I changed the channel to the Pistons.

On the other hand, the Pistons game was intense. The Magic and the Orlando crowd were into it. So were the Pistons, if you go be the 4 technical fouls. It was a fun game to watch, unlike Wings - Sharks.

Tomorrow afternoon, when we have the Red Wings, Pistons, Tigers, and Lions all (Gloriously) overlapping, in most households the the Red Wings will be on the backburner. I'm not saying it's right, but that's the way it is...


  1. No I know what's wrong with you. You actually factor in the purchase of beer in your pricing. Only the fairly rich do something as silly as paying $9 for a (plastic) cup of beer.....

  2. I'm with you Al, I had thoughts of going when I heard there were seats avaiable...but then I saw the prices. My World Series Tickets last year cost less than 2nd round NHL playoff tickets.

  3. A fine post, Big Al. I am with you on the pricing at the Joe, especially all of the extra fees...for $200 Al Sobotka should drive you and your guest to the game on a zamboni or Dean Palmer could pull you to the game on a rickshaw.

    I'm not quite with you on the list though (just my crappy opinion). I think college football is ahead of the Lions, with the Tigers, Red Wings, and Pistons taking the 3-5 positions in some order depending on the year. Each of these three teams has taken the #3 position after transitioning from a terrible/mediocre team to a contender. The Tigers did this last year, the Pistons made it there the first year they got 50 wins, and the Red Wings made the jump in the early nineties (it's pretty awesome that they have been contenders for so many years in a row). You're right though, nobody would have confused Detroit for 'Hockeytown' in the mid-eighties.