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Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Ticket Crisis

Do you want to go to an Oilers game for $30.00? Now you can.

Even though the Oilers already have their money secured this has to be a major embarrassment for the organization. 

I understand that the Devils, without Taylor Hall, and the Blue Jackets aren’t great draws, but that’s no excuse for the product to be valued this low. The best player in the world is taking to the ice in Edmonton and you can get in the building for less than what it costs to go watch the new Captain Marvel movie with a pop and popcorn. (Side Note: Captain Marvel started slow but finished strong)

One of the biggest reasons they finally decided to pull the trigger on the Chiarelli firing was because of negative feedback from season ticket holders. The organization knows its reputation is in need of improvement within the community, and the Chiarelli firing was the first step in that plan.

I do believe Bob Nicholson and VP of Communications Tim Shipton are gathering as much information as they can, as far as developing a plan, to help the Oilers connect better with their fans. One of the first steps in doing that was the team signing at West Edmonton Mall.

The easiest way to connect with your fan base is by winning, but until that begins to happen I believe the team needs to do as much as it can to be visible in the community. The most important thing moving forward would be to continue doing events like the West Edmonton Mall signing when the team becomes a winner.

Wednesday morning on the smash hit Nielson Show I was asked by a listener if the Oilers need to get a GM in place to help with season ticket renewals. Not being a season tickets holder myself I asked all of my Tier One listeners how they are approaching their ticket renewals this season.

THE RESPONSES

Mar 27, 2018; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (29) tries to make a pass by Columbus Blue Jackets defensemen Seth Jones (3) during the first period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

“We have had season tickets in our family since the very beginning of the Oilers. We still love our team and have a lot of faith in them but we are considering getting rid of our tickets for next year based on the overall cost and the inconsistency with the team. We have spent many years going and watching terrible hockey and frustrating hockey and we’re starting to wonder is it just better to watch it on TV.”

“I’m a season ticket holder and will renew either way, but unfortunately the renewal thing isn’t a problem yet as they still have a 3 or 4 year wait list.”

“It definitely matters? As we want to start to see a winning team. But we can enjoy and cheer for the team sitting at home in the comfort of our man cave. I love the new building but having three kids and the cost of tickets and the cost of food is just far too expensive.”

“After 22 years I cancelled my season tickets. People now saying “they’re only five points out, regret that decision yet?” NO! In reality the Oilers are 14 points behind the pace when the west corrects itself next year. Plug them in the reality East and that’s what next year will look like. This winning streak is the worst thing that could happen. It will be “we’re good enough” next year and nothing will change… Much like the last 30 years! Only difference is my money will be in my pockets and not the Oilers!”

“Guys. Oilers season ticket renewals are just about to happen. I live in Calgary and have to sell the majority of my tickets. It’s too late for me on the GM question or even the playoffs for that matter. It’s irrelevant. It was a lifelong dream to be an Oiler season ticket holder. Tonight’s NJ game is for sale and listed for $28 ea. They have so far gone unsold! I paid nearly $200 for the pair. I’m out regardless of what happens.”

“Let me put it this way the cost of my seats are $300 for the pair, then if we go and buy some food we’re looking at least a bill of $400 for the evening. Yes it’s a form of entertainment ,and we love it, but it’s a lot of money to shell out when the team is so unpredictable. Will it change if we’re a winning team? Maybe but I’m starting to really enjoy watching the games at home and may be attending the occasional game. Oil Kings tickets look pretty good”

“Season ticket holder Jeff – season tickets holders have changed from fans to businesses. Oilers games are now used more as a marketing and customer appreciation tool instead of people who love hockey going to see the game. I can guarantee you for that reason getting the GM before the renewals are up won’t make a difference. ”

THE FIRST STEP

The first step in trying to get things back on track is admitting you have an issue and I’m pretty confident the Oilers are well aware that something needs to be done. I know there is a waiting list for tickets and because of that, some fans will refuse to believe the organization doesn’t feel the need to improve their community relations but that’s not the case.

I guess I’ll wrap up with a couple of questions. Are you renewing your season tickets, why or why not? If the Oilers are serious about improving their relationships with the fans, business community and media in this market what would you like to see them do?

Previously by Dustin Nielson:



  • Alberta Ice

    Now that was depressing to read. For a cheap price tonight you can go watch McDavid and Drai bedevil the lowly devils with the same kind of goal scoring barrage that the Flames offered the bedevilled devils last night. This game is Taylored for the Oilers without Hall.

  • Clayton

    Ill be renewing all four of my season tickets for sure. With the hype and excitement at the start of each season I can sell off enough games to poor unsuspecting fans to almost pay for the games I actually want to go to! Face value on the tickets is way higher than the season ticket price making for a nice tidy profit each time you sell!

    • Goaltender Interference

      You’re either a Russian troll, related in some way to Darryl Katz or are a pathological liar.

      Last year I couldn’t sell my season seats for half of what I paid for them. This year is even worse for season tix holders.

      Ever since they moved to the new barn, the Oilers entertainment group have been pissing all over their fans with yearly price increases. I don’t know who they’re pricing these for but it sure isn’t your average fan.

  • wiseguy

    Next year I’m dropping half of the tickets I have had for years. I share 2 different lower bowl pairs and the second pair will not renewed. Entertainment value is poor value for the money. Some games I have 4 tickets, plus parking, food, drinks = very expensive evening. Will spend the money saved going to a game in Vegas and Nashville next year. I hear the in game experience are great in those places.

    • Joy S. Lee

      I don’t attend many games at all. The ones that I have felt like I was on the receiving end of one giant, massive and unrelenting advertising conglomeration… as if the hockey game were secondary to THAT! Even the beautiful scoreboard they installed barely showed replays, instead opting for the more profitable advertising scheme. So, frankly, the experience itself is sub-par at best, in my estimation, and at home, I can watch the replays and try to focus on the actual game that I love. And if I’m quick on the mute button, even the Gene Principe clown-show distraction bothers me less. I’m annoyed by the garbage Katz loves to throw at us in order to make more money, all the while watering down the very product that we came to see. The whole thing is so overpriced as is, and then they use the beautiful new venue as an advertising mecca. Yeah, I’d rather just watch hockey, thanks.

  • ellebee

    Does it help sell tickets when Connor says in his pregame that it would have been easy to just roll over & die with the negativity around the team from the fans & media?

  • corky

    I understand the Oilers are running a business. Cost of doing business goes up every year. But the price hikes every year, especially with the poor results, reeks of arrogance. The Oilers know people will eat it all up win or lose. How about a pledge to not raise prices if the team misses the playoffs? Yes profits would go down, but it would buy a lot of goodwill with the fanbase. Also the team should poll anyone who wants to take a survey, not just season ticket holders. Get a fresh perspective of what people want in gameday presentations, food, etc.

  • Trash

    I held season tickets for a number of seasons, getting a pair after the Fall for Hall, and giving them up after McDavid’s rookie year. Sounds crazy, right? Well, I didn’t time the market perfectly, I was 1.5 seasons off (I’d have made serious bank during the playoff run), but I’m absolutely happy with my decision. This year would have easily wiped off all the profits of the playoff year.

    But I didn’t quit the Oilers because I wasn’t making money on the season tickets. I was never in it for that. It’s just, after finally getting McDavid – even when he was healthy – I got burnt out on this team. Even if I was going to the games for free, there’s just so much more to life than cheering for a hockey team. Maybe it’s just me, but at age 40, it feels really, really awkward – like what am I doing with my life that I care so much about the shenanigans of some 20-year-olds who wouldn’t say hi to me if they even recognized me? I have almost nothing in common with them, I have absolutely nothing in common with the ownership, and quite honesty I wanted to teach my kids to be involved with their families and friends, not with some weird hobby where you pay hundreds to watch people play a game, not some shallow social event where they go to school bragging about where they sat and then come home disappointed if someone had better tickets. We have board game nights now, we go skating as a family now, we cook together now, we go see the grandparents and we just talk.

    I’ve given away or sold a dozen jerseys (including signed Hall, Nuge, Yak and McDavid ones), a bunch of sticks, pucks, and other garbage.

    The only reason I’m posting here is because a friend thought I should, so he sent me a link.

    • FutureGM

      weird hobby, shallow social event, mmk lol
      Sounds like you were never a fan if your first thought of playoffs was making bank on those tickets! Nothing wrong with being a casual hockey or Oilers fan, but this seems to be more about you as a person than the team being inept and not delivering a product. If your kids are crying because someone else sat closer that makes them shallow, not the product…
      Crazy thing, some people do all of the wholesome, good-for-the-soul stuff and still are able to attend games. No need to disparage a sport because you no longer see the value in it

    • Ten Long Years

      I’ve been thinking about this lately. Why do us fans care so damn much? Honestly I think there are few players that care as much as the fans. Its their career, their job. Of course they want to win, but at the end of the day most of these guys are not losing their jobs in the NHL if the Edmonton Oilers don’t make the playoffs. The players themselves haven’t been die hard Oiler fans since childhood like most of us. Look at Max Domi – do you think he was a die hard Canadiens fan as a kid? I’m sure he hated them as much as his dad. I don’t know, there are so many things more important than getting worked up about a stupid game played by guys who care a fraction as much as I do about this team. Maybe I’m just growing up.

  • Axe

    I am not renewing, I will instead buy tickets for about five games next year and watch rest from. Home .. Secondary market is horrible.. In some cases u can barely give away the tickets, ppl make u feel like they are doing u a favor by taking the tickets off ur hand..
    P. S. I doubt the wait is three or four years long… I signed up last year and was able to get in for this year

    • The only place stating that is the propaganda website run by the Oilers themselves. No playoffs and no increase seems like a great idea, but PR is not their strong suit. IF and that is a big if they have a PR department, it is also being run by an incompetent.

    • Goaltender Interference

      The wait for season seats did use to be three-four years. I signed up on the waiting list in 04 and finally got a chance to buy tix for the 08-09 season.

      However I agree – there’s zero chance that the waiting list is that long still today.

      • What the

        That will happen when you go to game 7 of the finals in ‘06. I signed up in ‘08 and got tickets for the ’08/09 season. Other than McDavid’s first year and the first year at Rogers I’d bet the waiting list isn’t more than a year. It won’t be long this year.

        BTW – my four tier two seats will be available.

  • Paddyh

    I don’t think the entire ‘Waiting List’ would purchase season tickets. It’s easy being on the waiting list but actually stepping up and buying season tickets that increase every year? pffff.

  • Abagofpucks

    I’m pretty sure the names on the season ticket list is full of people that have changed their minds or can’t afford it now because of the economy.

  • Let’s be real here… our willingness to pay as much as we do already, whether it be for tickets, merch, food, booze, tv(online and offline) etc… is the reason people can play a game for millions of dollars. Tickets for $20 is just fine. It’s embarrassing to see how much losing is required in order for a fan base to push the market value of this product downward.

  • toprightcorner

    This is the very reason why the Oilers will not hire Keith Gretzky. An internal hire will not create optimism within the fanbase, something they cannot afford to do.

  • Hockeytalkguy

    My nephew has had season seats for the last 8 years, he’s not renewing for next year. 2 guys I work with are not renewing either, they just simply said they have had enough, to costly for the entertainment that you DON’T get. I gave up my seats in 2012, have only gone to 2 games since then, 1 of those games was still at Rexall. I love hockey & the Oilers but I don’t miss the experience one bit. I will NEVER FORGIVE Kevin Lowe for classifying Oiler fans as Tier 1 & 2. The comment of ” I think I know a little about winning, in case there ever was a concern” was the last straw for me. Daryl Katz & Kevin Lowe can both pound sand. Katz will see a very limited amount of my entertainment dollars, because I still go to 1 or 2 concerts a year.

  • Let’s talk style…

    The orange 3rd jerseys in the 2016/17 were good but the classic blue is preferred. The current pylon-coloured home jerseys are not. I heard Katz himself picked the colours and design.

    The team video intro is robotic, has no emotion, and makes them look like cyborgs. Compare that to the raw, down to earth video in 2016/17. That was well done and got fans pumped.

    WEM signing was a good idea.

    Fans want to connect with the players. Kids want them to be heroes.

    Tough to do when ticket prices, food, pop, and beer are insane and continually increase each year.

  • Heschultzhescores

    70% AHL calibre hockey is not worth 200% NHL prices. And .50 cent beer
    being sold for15 bucks is outright thievery. Not to mention severely inadequate washroom facilities

  • FutureGM

    product is bad, in game experience is meh at best and there is no reason to believe management will be even serviceable next year. Our group has 4 seats and will likely go down to two, largely for the reason that pops likes going.
    Also, stop whinging about beer/food. Pretty simple how the economy works, don’t support what you don’t like. I enjoy a good brew but decided after the lockout I would rather go on an extra holiday/yr than support dime-bag Daryl any more than I do with the tickets. I know it is not for all, but nothing would be a better message to ownership than to stop buying beer, food, hats, jerseys. None of that is needed to cheer on a team at the game!

  • Jon123

    I made it very clear on their survey that ticket prices are the #1 factor in renewing. If they try to hike prices again, very likely I’ll be out. They seem to think they’re entitled to price increases due to inflation, of course that only makes sense if you ignore that they increased well above inflation in previous years and completely disregarding the economy.

  • FISTO Siltanen

    I’m a STH and will be renewing but the only reason why is that i am on the DRL and only that. Even if the team was closer to their excellence in 2017 in both 18 and 19 I’d probably still cancel. Horrible seats in upper bowl and way too much competition with little to discriminate one seat purchase vs the other. So people look for cheapest option.

    I have sold in 3 years a grand total of 4 games below what we paid for them. 3 were due to schedule conflicts and needed to get best price available. And the 4th was the same thing albeit preseason and we gave the discount to a volume buyer.

    The Oilers have been an embarassment to this city and fan base and better be careful what will happen with low STH commitments. See:Eskimos

  • Ty Guy

    i was gifted lower bowl tickets in Calgary with club access a few years back. i remember looking at the face value and what we spent to park, eat and have a few drinks and the total was well over $1,500 for 4 tickets…who can afford that 8 times a month?!?!?! thats without even factoring a jersey toss!!! NHL is not a family friendly event in Canada.

  • _Bubba

    30 bucks a ticket. If I buy a dozen, does that make me T1? Last year, I was blowing $400 for one game out with the Wife. This year, for the same money, we could go half a dozen games, if we pack in our own trail mix…

  • Datsyukian

    They are not low. That’s what hockey tickets cost in normal markets. Everyone should be able to get a ticket for $30 in the second tier, and maybe $100 in the first tier, not the gouging we have experienced here for years.

  • chickenStew

    Not a season ticket holder, but my friend is and he graciously brings me along to a few games a year.
    We went to the NYR game on Monday. I paid for parking and some food. No booze. $75
    Aside from the on ice performance, we were treated to probably a dozen or more booming scorboard requests to “MAKE SOME NOISE!”
    Why? Are we obligated to create a false atmosphere? Isn’t the atmosphere supposed to be a naturally occurring phenomena?
    Benning was railroaded behind the net, which resulted in a short scrap and him leaving the game, which left us with 4 d-men for most of the 3rd period in a tie game. Do you think they would show a replay of the hit? Nope. Just 2 or 3 minutes of players skating around waiting for the refs to sort things out. Every fan in the building wanted to know what happened, but for some reason we weren’t included. But we sure were supposed to make some noise!
    For those of you who dish out hundreds or thousands of dollars a game, again… why?

  • Spaceman Spiff

    People will charge what they can get for the tickets. Others will pay what they want. Those are market forces and you don’t generally need to parse them any more than that.

    But, testimonials from Tier 1 fans aside, I’d suggest to you that there’s more to it than dissatisfaction among the fan base. In fact, I’d hope it’s more than that because if the fan base can’t buy into a team that’s five points out of a playoff spot with 12 or 13 games left, then I think that says more about the fans than the team. But I digress.

    No, I think simple economics are at play here. Edmonton’s got the second- or third-highest unemployment rate in the country right now (Calgary’s No. 1). There aren’t as many people out there with the disposable income to buy tickets, second-hand.

    Plus, there’s a provincial election coming up – probably in a week or two. Edmonton’s a government town. If the UCP comes to power, there’s a decent shot that a lot of public service workers will either face pay cuts or pink slips. I know of lots of public service workers who are putting off major purchases for the next couple of years to see how the dust settles after the election. I reckon that includes things like season tickets or, as covered in this article, re-sell tickets on the second-hand market.

    Add it all up and that means less demand … and less demand that means the sellers have to lower their prices to spur demand. And I don’t think the Oilers front office needs to bear all of the blame for that.

    • BobbyCanuck

      Your Public Service worker pals must all be in management, as a Union public staffer, none of my colleagues can afford to go to a game, let alone season tickets