Dallas Stars President Jim Lites says: No, this was not his idea. He wants to be clear about that. Interim team president Tony Tavares was already working on a plan to lower Stars ticket prices, Lites tells Unfair Park. But, of course, he could do no such thing -- not while the team was in bankruptcy, "not when the team was owned by 40 creditors." But Lites is in charge now -- in charge again, I should say, brought back by new owner Tom Gaglardi to restore the luster to a once-great franchise. And so, one of his first orders of business is to do what Tavares could not: make it inexpensive to attend a Dallas Stars hockey game at the American Airlines Center.
How inexpensive? Like, is nine dollars inexpensive?
On the other side you will find the freshly minted seating and pricing chart, which makes its bow a little earlier than expected. (Initially, the team was going to unveil its new low, low prices at midnight tonight, but Ticketmaster's little note today pushed that up a wee bit.) Mezzanine seats that cost $35 yesterday will run you $25 now; plaza seats that cost you anywhere from $70 to $125 yesterday will now run $70 and not a cent more. And StarsClub Premium seats that were $125-$150 will now be priced at $110. Says Lites, not only has the team cut prices, but it has simplified the structure.
The complicated tiering, says Lites, stemmed in large part from the move from Reunion Arena to the AAC -- that, and the "dynamic pricing" roll-out that made things even screwier back in '09. "We had five pricing structures led to seven led to nine led to 13," he says, "which was too many."
Says Gaglardi in a prepared statement, "One of the first things we did as a management team was look at individual ticket prices. The fans spoke and we listened. We're pleased that we can now offer a $9 ticket and we feel that these new prices make Stars games more affordable. Our team needs a full building every night to give us a true home-ice advantage."
Lites points to the game against Toronto the night after Thanksgiving, when the arena was sold out -- thanks, in large part, to the Student Rush program that makes available $30 lower-section seats on game day. He says thousands lined up for those ducats. "And it was electric," he says. "We don't want to be seen as cheap. It's a fair price for great entertainment."
Now, of course, you're more than likely going to ask about that October report showing the Dallas Stars as having the lowest average ticket price in the league at $29.95. Lites says that due in part to special deals necessitated by low attendance, and by the stacks of comps given out to fill seats. As Rob Scichili, the team's assistant veep of communications, put it when we talked today: "While I like the fact our average ticket price is low compared to the other 29 teams, what really matters is what our fans think of the price and if they want to pay it to come watch NHL hockey in Dallas."
Scichili acknowledges average home attendance has been low this season -- 11,470 per game through 14 home contests (which is up from 10,648 a few weeks ago). There were some bad gates in October, in large part because for the second year in a row the Rangers went to the World Series. "But attendance in November was better than October," says Scichili. "We benefited in having games around Thanksgiving, and people are thinking about hockey. Around here casual fans don't think about hockey in October. They're still wrapped up in baseball and football. Historically we've always been strong in the spring."
The price reduction, Lites says, when combined with realignment ("When your product -- your three-hour infomercial -- is on when nobody's watching, it's a waste") and the rise of younger players like Kari Lehtonen and Loui Eriksson and new ownership, really ought to get folks back in the AAC.
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"One of my favorite people in Dallas is Mark Cuban, he says, "who, despite the demand, kept Mavericks tickets at reasonable prices. When we moved into the AAC, the decision was made to raise prices." Why? "Because people wanted in. We were never in a better position than we were on that day." And now, it's time to hit the reset button.
"People come to Dallas not to retire, not to get a tan, but to work, to raise a family," Lites says. "And they want to pay a fair price for great entertainment."Seating Chart Individual