NHL raises ticket prices

CHICAGO -- Despite a lockout that wiped out the entire preseason and 34 regular-season games, NHL teams instituted the largest ticket percentage increase among the pro hockey league, the NBA and the NFL for the second consecutive season, according to an annual study by Team Marketing Report, a Chicago-based sports marketing research firm. The 2013 MLB ticket average will be released at the start of the season.

None of these averages includes club, premium or suite tickets.

After a four-month lockout, the NHL began play in January and season-ticket prices went up 5.7 percent, according to the recently released Team Marketing Report Fan Cost Index. The average season ticket for non-premium seats is $61.01. As usual, ticket prices were set well before the season.

The NBA's average ticket went up 3.5 percent to $50.99 and the NFL's went up 2.5 percent to $78.38. The average MLB ticket for the 2012 season was even at $26.98.

In the previous season, the NHL raised prices by 4.8 percent, while the NBA (1.7 percent), NFL (1.2 percent) and MLB (1.2 percent for 2011 season) had smaller increases.

Increased ticket prices, prior knowledge of a looming lockout and theoretical bad feelings of fans haven't hurt NHL ticket sales this season. Through games of Feb. 12, the NHL had an average attendance of 17,652, a 1.1 percent increase from last season's average of 17,455. Last season, the NHL had a 1.8 percent increase in attendance with 15 teams drawing average crowds with 100 percent or higher of capacity.

Team Marketing Report arranges its study through Fan Cost Index prices. The Fan Cost Index is the price to take a family of four to a game, including tickets, drinks, hot dogs, parking and the like. The NHL average this season is $354.82, a 7.9 percent increase from last season's survey.

As usual, Canadian teams rule the top of the list. The Toronto Maple Leafs have the most expensive average ticket at $124.69 (converted to U.S. dollars), followed by the Winnipeg Jets at $97.84, Vancouver Canucks at $87.38, Edmonton Oilers at $79.27 and Montreal Canadiens at $78.56. according to TMR research.

The Washington Capitals ($79.25), New York Rangers ($72.04) and Philadelphia Flyers ($71.59) are the top American terms in terms of average ticket price. Nineteen teams raised prices by more than one percent, while only three reported decreases.

The Buffalo Sabres reported the largest percentage increase at 26.7 percent, which brings their average ticket to $46.15, the seventh-cheapest ticket.

Jon Greenberg is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com and executive editor for Team Marketing Report.