The NHL’s highest & lowest ticket prices; conference realignment’s alleged slant in West’s favor
Thinking about attending an NHL game or two this season? The leading resale ticket market aggregator/data source, TiqIQ ( www.tiqiq.com ) has got your budgeting covered as they’ve gathered ticket price info from the entire NHL to show you what’s affordable, what’s not, and everything in between. Here’s what they found out:
- The average price for an NHL ticket is currently $162.96, which is 1.29% higher than the price this time last year ($160.89)
- We have seen over the past several years, prices from now till end of season tend to drop anywhere between 18%-29%
- Below are the Top 5 teams with the most expensive tickets this season:
- Leafs: $373.50
- Canucks: $282.58
- Blackhawks: $275.65
- Oilers: $259.83
- Flames: $241.18
- The team with the lowest average price currently are the Tampa Bay Lightning at $77.21
- The team with the biggest % increase from last season to this season is the Ducks at 75.95% ($55.23 to $95.51) and the Jets had biggest decrease at -24.16% ($206.53 to $156.64)
- Below are a few other notable teams and their change in price from last year:
- Rangers: -6.62% ($233.42 to $217.97)
- Kings: +5.74% ($125.73 to $132.95)
- Blackhawks: -13.03% ($316.94 to $275.65)
- Islanders: +41.17% ($89.17 to $125.88)
- Avalanche: +17.92% ($87.11 to $102.72)
With teams from the Western Conference winning 60% of the Stanley Cup championships since the league split into Eastern and Western Conferences in 1994, does the NHL’s most recent alignment structure disadvantage Eastern Conference teams? New statistical research says Yes!
Last year, the NHL realigned its conferences and divisions. The Eastern Conference now has 16 teams, while the Western Conference has only 14. Since there still are eight playoff spots in both conferences, teams in the West have a 57% probability of making the playoffs compared to just 50% for East teams.
This imbalance raises the question of how much more difficult it will be to make the playoffs in the East. In other words: How many more points—on average—will the East’s 8th seed team need to earn than the West’s 8th seed team to make the playoffs? If this difference—called the “conference gap”—is zero, we can conclude no team is facing an unfair advantage to getting into the playoffs. If the conference gap is not zero, we can question whether the realignment is fair.
To quantify this potential gap, Stephen Pettigrew, author of the Rink Stats blog (http://rinkstats.com/), estimated the impact of realignment using a Monte Carlo simulation of the new alignment’s scheduling matrix over 10,000 simulated NHL seasons (Monte Carlo methods are a common tool for statistical researchers to simulate games and seasons in hockey and other sports).
Pettigrew’s analysis reveals that when team talent is roughly distributed evenly between the two conferences, it will require 2.74 more points on average to make the playoffs in the East than in the West. So, on average, an Eastern Conference playoff-hopeful team will need to win one or two more games than a Western Conference playoff-hopeful team.
This finding has far-reaching competitive and financial implications for the NHL. For owners, it means imbalances in the revenue earned from home playoff games. Western Conference teams will make the playoffs at higher rates than Eastern Conference teams, resulting in at least two extra games of ticket and concession sales. For players, it means playing for a Western Conference team gives them a better chance of winning the Stanley Cup in any given year since simply making it to the playoffs gives them a chance to win it all. For fans of Eastern Conference teams, it means a higher probability their season will end too soon and less of a chance that in any given year his or her team will win the Stanley Cup.
Pettigrew’s analysis is reported in the September 2014 issue of the Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports (http://www.degruyter.com/view/j/jqas), a publication of the American Statistical Association (www.amstat.org).