There are six teams in the Canadian Hockey League waiting for the opportunity to get their tickets punched to the 2013 Memorial Cup in Saskatoon. But for fans of the Portland Winterhawks and Halifax Moosheads -- who have the opportunity to see their teams clinch league titles at home -- tickets to Game 5 might be tougher to get.
How far would you go to see your favourite team win a championship?
The Portland Winterhawks have been to two straight WHL finals, but twice they've come up short. On Friday night, however, they have the chance to win their first league title since 1997-98 on home ice when they host the Edmonton Oil Kings. The Winterhawks, with a 3-1 series lead, have already sold the 10,947 tickets available at the Rose Garden. People are getting desperate.
One woman took to Craigslist to say she'll delay the birth of her child if she's able to get a ticket to Game 5. And, you never know, the excitement of a Winterhawks victory might send her into labour anyway.
Another Portland fan, Paul, is offering to pay asking price plus, "as much bakery stuff as you can eat," since he works at a bakery.
That's a lot of dough for a pair of junior hockey tickets.
Fans in Halifax are in the same boat for Game 5 of the President’s Cup final on Friday night against the Baie-Comeau Drakkar. One more victory will give the Mooseheads their first QMJHL league title.
If you want the chance to potentially witness to Mooseheads history, it’s going to cost you.
According to the team, tickets for Game 5 at the Metro Convention Centre sold out officially in 15 minutes. Fans, some who had been watching Game 4 of the series broadcast live from Baie-Comeau in Halifax’s Grand Parade Square, went directly to the box office to camp out overnight.
“By the time the (ticket) windows opened we had about 60 to 70 people,” said Erin Esiyok-Prime, the acting Manager of Marketing and Communications at the Ticket Atlantic box office. “People have been lined up because it’s just a hot ticket and they want to make sure they get them. We’ve had lineups for the last several games. This was definitely the most.
“I saw some blankets, but lots of lawn chairs and fold-up chairs and things like that. It’s Moose fever for sure."
If you weren’t among the brave souls who crashed in the lobby of the box office, there’s still the opportunity to pay a premium online for tickets. On Thursday afternoon, people were peddling Mooseheads playoff tickets – which usually sell around $21 (with tax) -- for $100 a piece on average.
Fans like Melissa Richards, who have been going to games all year, are trying to see if there's a way to still support the team in person without declaring bankruptcy.
"People are telling me that I can have tickets for $250 or more," said Richards, who was up at 7 a.m. to see if she could buy tickets online from the box office when it opened at 10 a.m. "That's just not going to happen for me."
One seller on Kijiji was offering up two tickets behind the Halifax bench for $400 with the pitch that the buyer could “be a part of the potential President’s Cup celebration.” Another offered to trade a “PS3 for free with controllers and games plus $50" for tickets. A third seller was offering two lower bowl tickets for $600 for anyone crazy, desperate, or rich enough to pay that price to “be a part of history.”
"I am certainly surprised that people would fork-over upwards of $100 for an upper bowl nosebleed ticket," wrote Cody Spence, who is looking for a single ticket, via email. "It's junior hockey. It's the Mooseheads. There are over 10,000 seats in that rink and people will pay $100 for the worst one in the house? Good U2 tickets didn't even cost $100 when they played the Maritimes."
The Metro Centre, which accommodates 10,595 for hockey, has faced a run on Mooseheads tickets since their semi-final against the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. Everyone wants to see the top-ranked team in the Canadian Hockey League make a push for their first Memorial Cup appearance. The city is full of Moose mania.
"It's pretty darn crazy," said Richards. "The atmosphere is getting pumped-up. It's definitely a bigger draw than the NHL playoffs right now for us."
Richards says she'll go down to the rink for Game 5 in a last ditch attempt to see if she can land a ticket. If not, like Spence, she'll stay home and watch the game -- for free -- on TV.
"People (are) capitalizing on the collective hunger of the fans," wrote Spence. "I won't give any more than the ticket is worth. I have a lovely couch and my own refreshments, and could have a pretty good time watching the game on TV, or I could hit up a sports bar and enjoy the game with everyone else who couldn't get a ticket."