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As fans return, Flyers keep flat rate, have waiting-list tickets on way originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
The Flyers had plenty of decisions to make with the return of fans to the Wells Fargo Center.
From a business standpoint, two of the decisions centered around how to allocate tickets and for how much.
Despite absorbing the economic hit caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which kept fans out of the stands for nearly a year, the Flyers did not want to hike up the cost of admission.
"We know that we could have raised our prices this year and people would have paid it, but that was never even a consideration for us," Flyers chief business officer Mike Shane said Friday in a phone interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia. "We kept our prices flat to exactly where they were the day of the shutdown because we want our fans to be there, we want them to be able to come and enjoy it — and all of our fans, not just the select few.
“The return of fans to the Wells Fargo Center, it should be a celebration of being able to come back together. It should be about seeing and supporting our team. It’s not a time to be trying to scrape everything that we can; that’s not the fan-friendly approach in general. I hope that our fans have seen over the past few years that we’re really taking a fan-friendly approach in everything that we’re doing. Our sport, our business is built on the fans. We have an obligation to treat them the right way.”
Starting last Sunday, fans have been welcomed back to the Wells Fargo Center at a 15 percent capacity. With just under 3,100 fans permitted per game, the Flyers have given first availability to their Inside Edge and premium seat members, based on tenure. Remaining fans looking to purchase single-game tickets can fill out a priority waiting list form and will be notified when tickets become available. More than 10,000 fans have signed up for the priority wait, while tickets, sold in pods of two and four people (six for luxury boxes), are going as low as $58.
Fans can also purchase single-game tickets on StubHub.com, but prices are considerably higher and not controlled by the Flyers. While the Flyers have a partnership with StubHub.com, they do not receive any percentage of the ticket sales. On StubHub.com, Flyers tickets are being sold at an average of two times the face value and as high as four times the face value. As of Friday night, the cheapest tickets on StubHub.com for the Flyers-Capitals game Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center were $99 apiece.
"The tickets that we have to sell through the primary, those are the tickets that we get. If someone chooses to go and sell those on StubHub, that is on them," Shane said. "StubHub is the official secondary marketplace of the Flyers. What that allows us to do is ensure that the ticket is legitimate. Our fans can buy on StubHub; we’re integrated into the back end, so that StubHub can verify that, yes, this person does in fact have this ticket with this barcode for this seat. When someone buys on StubHub, they know that they’re actually getting what they’re paying for — and that’s important. That wasn’t always the case on the secondary market. We want to provide that outlet for our fans to both sell and buy if there are no tickets on the primary available.”
The priority wait-list tickets for the final week of March will be released Monday. The Flyers will release the slate of April games around March 24-25. Like March, those tickets will first be available to Inside Edge and premium seat members, based on tenure, followed by the fans filling out the priority waiting list form.
Over their first three home games with fans back in the arena, the Flyers' listed attendance numbers were 3,023 last Sunday, 2,838 on Tuesday and 2,807 on Thursday. Distributing tickets that are in high demand, in pods, for a limited capacity is a totally new experience for the Flyers.
"It’s unprecedented," Shane said. "We’ve never had to think about it like this before.
“The reality is we have been sold out of every game. While the city has allowed us to be right around just under 3,100, we’re still experimenting with what is the right mix of tickets. Because tickets are sold in pods and you have to come with a member of your household, we have to make the decision: how many sets of two do we put out, how many sets of four do we put out, where do we put them in the arena — upstairs, downstairs, in the clubs, in the suites.
"So we’ve taken these first handful of games, really these first four games, to kind of experiment and understand what the market wants in that regard. We’ve held back some seats where it makes sense to give us some flexibility. But every ticket that we’re making available is going and I think that we’re starting to hone in on that sweet spot of being able to make the tickets that we have available best match the way that people actually want to come. That’s something that we have an obligation to protect — the industry term is pod integrity — that we’re not selling seats that are ultimately going to be broken up and people sitting next to each other that shouldn’t be. We have to manage all of that on our end.”
Shane and the Flyers are embracing the task of finding a way to welcome back all of their fans in the current limited-capacity world. Seeing more than 10,000 fans sign up for the priority wait-list told Shane something he already knew.
"What it says about the fan base doesn’t really need to be said — we’ve got the best fans in hockey and I will stick by that," Shane said. "That’s something that we’ve never done before; we’ve never had any sort of tailgate wait-list. But right now, we want to be fair and we want to be equitable.
"We want to give our members access to as much as we can, but we also want to make sure that we have enough to spread across so that everyone can experience it and be there.”
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